Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cloudy Day

As the post title suggests, it has been a cloudy day here in Kigali. The day is still young, but I suspect it will bring rain (imvura) rather than sun. I have a meeting this afternoon and an event to attend this evening so I am taking a bit of time out to post quickly. It is of course Thanksgiving here and back in Lincoln as well. For those curious, there is a restaurant (mostly an expat sort of place) that is serving an expensive Thanksgiving dinner - a mere 14000RFW ($23 for the meal), though another post says 12000 ($20). It will include pumpkin soup, turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, vegetarian stuffing with celery, apples and raisins, carrots, spinach, and choice of things like pumpkin pie or cinnamon raisin bread pudding. I will obviously not be going. Most large tasty meals elsewhere are much cheaper. A friend and I got brochettes, frites, soda and I got a large beer all for around 4700RWF ($7.83) If I need a special meal I will simply go find some more tasty goat somewhere.

With that said, I have been able to do more office visiting and following up and requesting new interviews. Tomorrow starts the beginning of 16 days activism aganist gender violence in Rwanda and throughout the world. There will be a group of supporters walking through town, ending at the stadium for speeches and to watch a women's football game: women in government institutions vs. women from civil society organizations. I probablly will not get to see all of the football game since I have Kinyarwanda class, but it should be a good experience.

I know this is a short update, but I have to make sure I stay on schedule. Take care and mwirirwe (MeeReeGway - goodbye (afternoon); see for more Kinyarwanda words and phrases, spelled phonetically)!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Busy Week

This week I met many people and attended really interesting events. My trekking around the city has paid off both in meetings and in ensuring that I am finally able to find my way around relatively efficiently. One of the more exciting things I got to do was attend a national working group on women's land rights. Very interesting! There was a great mix of individuals there: gender experts, development experts, lawyers, rural leaders, government officials working on gender, abunzi representatives (abunzi is a local dispute resolution committee - for more information see the summary by Séraphine Murerwa, Muriel Veldman and Marco Lankhorst at, UN workers, NGO workers, and more. I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to attend this event given the emphasis that many women's organizations place on their role in advocating for women's inheritance rights among other laws.

Another event attended was a summary of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW - activities in Rwanda. This is the first year Rwanda has participated in GEW and events ranged from training in entrepreneurship, finding mentors for those interested in entrepreneurship, and connecting entrepreneurs with global networks. The keynote speaker was Eric Kacou, author of the newly released Entrepreneurial Solutions for Prosperity in BOP [Bottom of Pyramid] Markets ( Particularly noteworthy was a short presentation about a local magazine's decision to consistently run a regular story highlighting women entrepreneurs, a student's story about starting a business from 5000 RWF (Rwandan francs - about $8.33) that now has 5 employees, and a student organization's story of creating an entrepreneurship club at school. It was interesting to hear from many of the people who emphasize entrepreneurship as a solution to some of Rwanda's economic problems.

During some personal time, I went to my first trivia night here and the people organizing it are serious about trivia. There were 32 questions, ranging from identifying celebrity parents (of which I knew nothing about), determining the first line of books to identifying things like the president of Uzbekistan (refering of course to Herman Cain's Ubekibekibekistanstan statement - the answer is Islam Karimov by the way). It was fun, despite our unprepared group coming in last place. Perhaps our brains were fried from Kinyarwanda lessons, or perhaps we are just terrible. Maybe we will find out at some future trivia night.

Other than that I have been doing a lot of the same: studying Kinyarwanda and trying to work on my French, such as it is; trekking around seeking out contacts and interviews; enjoying delicious Rwandan food; trying to make sure I set aside dedicated time for writing; trying to get up to swim early (I was quite naughty by skipping a lot this week); and currently enjoying the scent of old cabbage waiting to be eaten by the rabbits wafting into the window as the wind has changed (methinks it's time to close the windows). I also survived my third ever sauna. To state the obvious, those things are ridiculously hot! I might be getting better though. I made it significantly longer than five minutes this time.

Next week there is a lot on the table and so an update should be short in the making. Turongera (see you soon - TooRohnGayRah, see for more Kinyarwanda words and phrases, spelled phonetically)!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Long Overdue Update

Things have been going quite well here in Kigali. It has been awhile since I last updated, and a lot has happened. I have received my research clearance and research visa, allowing me to contact organizations which require such clearance. I have made good connections for an interpreter/research assistant. I attended an art show of Rwandan artistics. I attended the opening of Nyampinga Girl Hub - a group that will publish a magazine and radio station aimed empowering Rwandan girls. I tried both a Chinese restaurant and an Indian restaurant, and found a place near my Kinyarwanda lessons that has good meatballs. I was also able to listen to a couple of really interesteing presentations by Ellen Banda-Aaku (author of Patchwork - Most interesting was her presentation to students of the Centre about gender, culture, being a woman writer, and a discussion about what the phrase "African feminist" may mean.

As I have been here longer I have gotten to know more of the Centre's faculty and affiliated researchers. They are a great group! Someone involved usually has some sort of weekend outing or movie, etc. One graduate student researcher is soon returning home and so I went to her going away party where I continued to meet people. Between the Kinyarwanda lessons, meeting people through Centre connections, wandering around searching for NGO offices, and other random meetings along the street, I'm getting to know a good deal of interesting people here. People are very friendly and helpful, and I am getting many chances to practice my Kinyarwanda and my very poor and limited (but growing) French.

I don't have much time to elaborate tonight since I have work to get done and places to go afterwords. The next blog will be very soon so you won't have to wait again. Take care, and umugoroba mwiza (have a nice evening - OoMooGohRohBah MWEEZah; see for more Kinyarwanda words and phrases, spelled phonetically)!