Monday, March 12, 2012

Football/Soccer, Wedding, and Women's Month

Since I last wrote I went to my first live football/soccer game. In fact, I went to the game immediately after I submitted the last post. The game I attended was for the Africa Cup of Nations and was Rwanda against Nigeria. I think the expectation was that Nigeria would dominate, but the game ended in one of the fantastic things about football (I hope you notethe sarcasm here): a 0-0 tie. It seems that the next match is some time off. And there is talk of the next opponent being Malawi, though I have yet to confirm all of this information. It was fun though. I got there closer to starting time and apparently one of the things that starts on time here is football. The seats left were those behind the grandstand seats. Could still see, but behind everyone. Not at all crowded in the area we were sitting as most were squeezed into the other stands. All in all a pretty fun experience. One thing totally missing though was concessions. There was no selling of anything in the stadium: not food, drinks, or souvenirs. Some enterprising souls sold some snacks outside of the stadium, but that doesn't help much in the stadium. Maybe you are supposed to plan and bring snacks with you. Better yet I think you are supposed to wait to eat anything until later since it is quite rude to eat in public. Many options, but very different from sporting events in the U.S.

In other non-research related news, I also attended a friend's wedding. I went to my first Foursquare church for the wedding, and the reception was in a local hotel. There were two weddings at the same time at the church. My friend and his soon to be spouse chose unexpectedly wonderful colors: pink and teal. I wouldn't think of those together, but especially at the reception with the tropical flowers it actually worked quite nicely. I did have to take a picture of the car with the pink and teal ribbons attached (wedding cars have bows and sometimes even arrangements of flowers placed on them). Like the previous wedding, the reception had traditional dancers and sharing of cake and Fanta (all soda is referred to as Fanta here). It came to the time to give presents, and unlike the wedding I attended before, there was no opportunity for those who didn't want to give a speech to simply take presents up. Everyone who gave a present had to give a speech at this reception, so I gave my first public speech in Kinyarwanda. It was not very good, and read from notes sent by another friend, but I made it through. Unlike American weddings which have a table at the back for presents to be dropped off, Rwandan weddings (all two I have experience with) feature speeches by present givers followed by physically handing the presents to the bride or groom, depending on whose behalf you are attending. I told a gentleman sitting next to me some things that are done at American weddings and some that were done at our wedding. He was quite shocked about leaving the gifts without saying a word. He did get some good laughs though (some of disbelief) regarding traditions like the glass-clinging for a kiss, dancing to a DJ at the reception, and the garter belt removal by teeth.

In the research realm, this month is a great month because there are many events related to gender. With International Women's Day on March 8, and the entire month being dedicated to women and girls, the Rwandan government has also created themes to celebrate during each week of women's month. The overall theme throughout the month is "Turusheko Kubaka Ubushobozi bw'umugore n'umukobwa mu Guteza Imbere Umuryango" (Empower Women and Girls to Sustain Families). The first week focused on fighting malutrition ("Imirire myiza, ubuzima bwiza" - "Eat healthy, live healthy"). As Women's Day also fell during this time, the sector where I went for the Women's Day celebration also included a focus on healthy eating. There was of course traditional dancing, singnig, and speeches. In addition there was a sketch presented about domestic violence and the National Women's Council (CNF). There was also a participatory lecture/discussion on healthy eating, particularly for children and mothers. Andy would have been saddened by the discussion as it discouraged the making and eating of chips. The talk about healthy eating was followed by an example of a healthy meal as children and mothers present were given milk, eggs, bananas, passionfruit, tree tomatoes/Japanese prunes, avacado, and a mash of some sort with vegetables and beans. Additionally, poor families in each umudugudu were selected to receive addition healthy foods to take home with them so they could have a healthy meal that night. The rest of us were given corn and Fanta. I did get to have some interesting conversations. One in particular stands out regarding work and women. This was the first year the day was not a holiday in some time. Though the event I attended was at the sector level, there were not as many attendees as there undoubtedly could have been if work had been cancelled. One woman said that many Rwandan women have to work and so cannot come to celebrate a day for them (this was a great conversation for me as we talked for a good 30-45 minutes in only French and Kinyarwanda as she spoke no English). During the celebration a leader explained that the reason that work was not cancelled was because the government felt it was important for people to continue to work in order to develop the country rather than having too many days off. An interesting debate about how women's day should be celebrated.

Upcoming weekly themes for Rwanda Women and Girls Month are as follows (and of course updates on events will follow in later posts): promoting economic empowerment of women ("Kungahara Munyarwandakazi" - "Progress O women of Rwanda"), promoting girls' education ("Jijuka Munyarwandakazi" - "Educate a woman, educate a nation"), and finallly women and good governance ("Imiyoborere myiza, imibereho myiza" - "Good governance leads to good livelihood").

In other research connected news I have continued to have interesting interviews, and of course continue my writing in between getting sinus/ear infection. As you can see, things are continuing to go well here. Stay tuned to future posts to learn about St. Patrick's day celebrations in Kigali (assuming there are some) and events surrounding the other three themes of Rwanda Women and Girls Month.

Until next time, ugenda amahoro (go in peace)!

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