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 http://www.rcn-ong.be/An-insight-into-abunzi-justice?lang=fr), 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 - http://gewrwanda.org/) 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 (https://www.entrepreneurialsolutionsforprosperity.com/). 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 http://morganinafrica.blogspot.com/2006/02/rwandan-dictionary-kinyarwanda-english.html for more Kinyarwanda words and phrases, spelled phonetically)!