On slave trade and the roles Africans played

A lot has been made of the historic trans-Atlantic slave trade from the 15th to early 20th century. Movies such as 12 years a slave“, “Amistad“, “Roots sequels (Kunta Kinte) amongst others have tried to depict the horrors and inhumane treatment of the blacks in the hands of the trade masters. However, it’s highly debatable if these depictions are played down, exaggerated or truly represented the slavery of those times.

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Badagry, Lagos Nigeria

Slave trade and general African history have always been a topic of interest to me, so, my visit to the coastal town of Badagry, in Lagos Nigeria, wouldn’t have been complete without visiting some of its historic slave sites. Badagry is a relatively small town but extremely rich in history. It was a major hub for the trans-Atlantic slave trade between Nigeria and the rest of the world.

 

My curiosity led me to places like Seriki Abass Slave Museum, the first-story building in Nigeria amongst other sites. Of serious concern to me was the Museum and the dark history behind its walls. I arrived there at about 2 pm in the company of a local resident- a pleasant and friendly chap turned brother.

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Seriki Faremi Williams Abass Slave Museum

At the entrance, we (tourists) all gathered around a lanky tour guide with massive dreadlocks (a Rastafarian I presume). He patiently gave a brief history of the man called Seriki Faremi Williams Abass and the thriving role he played as a slave merchant. Yes! A slave merchant selling his fellow blacks as slaves out of the continent, never to see their homeland again. And the irony? He was a former slave himself.

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Seriki Abass’s Cenotaph at the entrance of the museum

Captured as a slave, he was initially shipped to Brazil where he was privileged to learn how to speak and write in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch. His education elevated his circumstance from merely slaving away in cotton fields into more intellectual engagements like representing and managing his master’s business. After many years, he became one of the very few who saw their return to the continent.  After many years, he resettled on home soil and grew into a strong leader and founder of many communities, a socialite, an astute businessman and worryingly a prominent slave merchant. Much has been hailed about him as a strong politician and Muslim leader whose empire and kingdom spanned Badagry- to Ilaje – to the kingdom of Dahomey (Present day Republic of Benin). He is indeed a true example of the resilience of the human soul to rise above his seemingly insurmountable circumstances.

 

However, a spade should be called a spade. As a former slave himself, how would a man who had experienced the horrors of slavery and managed to find his way back home as a freeman become a channel through which thousands of others were led into slavery?Logically, you will expect him to be a vocal advocate for the emancipation of Africans from slavery. Right?We couldn’t hide our disgust as we were led through tiny cells too small for an individual by all standards but considered ideal for 40 slaves. We were told each cell housed 40 slaves, where they would languish in intensely poor ventilation in their own excrement for several days before being led to the point of no-return- Never to see their homeland again. Most of us couldn’t hide our disgust and disappointment at how Africans could be delivering fellow Africans into lifetimes of torture in exchange for what?

We (tourists) couldn’t hide our disgust as we were led through tiny cells too small for an individual by all standards but considered ideal for 40 slaves. These cells were referred to as the barracoon of 40 slaves. We were told each cell housed 40 slaves, where they would languish in intensely poor ventilation in their own excrement for several days before being led to the point of no-return– Never to see their homeland again. Most of us couldn’t hide our disgust and disappointment at how Africans could be delivering fellow Africans into lifetimes of torture in exchange for what?

The narrative took an interesting twist when the tour guide gave a breakdown of what the slave trade transaction was like;

A bottle of Gin = 10 slaves

A mirror = 40 slaves

An enameled pot = 30 slaves

A huge umbrella = 40 slaves

A Dane gun = 40 slaves… and other ridiculous barter exchange values

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             Brass Dish, Gun, bowls, mirrors traded in exchange for Slaves

To put that in perspective, the value of one bottle of Aromatic Shinaps was 10 able-bodied souls like you and I. And, when next you stand before a 10” by 12” mirror to apply your makeup (for ladies), remember that you are standing before the something exchanged for 40 human beings with sound mind and health whose freedom where forcefully taken.

Can it get any more embarrassing?

I couldn’t help but laugh at the large glasslike gramophone, which was probably the best technology could offer at the time. In fact, the tour guide said the gramophone was probably the only one in the whole of West Africa for many years at the time. What else could spell influence than having several women at his call and beckon? The great man himself was said to have had 128 wives and 144 children in his lifetime.

Fast-forward to our current contemporary times, I see this oppression-syndrome play out in the form of neo-colonialism. Politicians who have traveled all over the world and seen it all and should know better will come back home and still treat their people with disgust and disregard. Schools, hospitals, and all basic amenities are in disarray… they do not seem to care. After all, the luxury and financial security of their children and children’s children are safely tucked away in foreign havens far from the reach of the prying eyes of the helpless masses… They equally act in ways that suggest the lives of the masses is worth nothing more than a useless mirror. Bad roads, poor governance, inadequate health facilities, poverty and hunger, lack of justice just to mention a few still plagues the society in no small measure.

There was ample time for visits to other historical monuments such as the first-storey building in Nigeria (1845), miracle well built in 1842 (175 years ago) and a few other non-historical places in town.

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First-storey building in Nigeria, Badagry, Lagos state

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Miracle well- Badagry, Lagos Nigeria
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Badagry, Lagos Nigeria
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Badagry, Lagos Nigeria
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Channel leading to the Atlantic Ocean. It could be developed into a major harbour in the nearest future. Badagry, Lagos Nigeria
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Badagry, Lagos Nigeria
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Badagry, Lagos Nigeria
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Badagry, Lagos Nigeria
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Badagry, Lagos Nigeria

By the way, as I write the first draft of this post, I’m currently en-route Lagos-Ibadan highway- a major road currently undergoing an upgrade. Construction activities on this road have stopped at least twice due to issues Nigerians are familiar with.

On a lighter note, the driver seems to care less about the numerous potholes and bad portions of the road as he keeps running straight into them. I believe he will be a huge asset as a stunt crewmember of the Fast and Furious movie series… Reading this post is a sure proof I got home safely though.

In the rant for selfless, effective and revolutionary leadership… Let love and kindness rule the world

For further reading

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-319-46985-0_2

http://www.iosrjournals.org/iosr-jhss/papers/Vol.%2021%20Issue8/Version-1/G2108014247.pdf

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In the quest to behold Flamingos

We had been informed long before that flamingos are seasonal birds on the several lakes located in East Africa rift valley. Lake Naivasha the closest major lake to Nairobi is the only fresh water lake within the rift valley, hence the chances of finding Flamingos are much slimmer.

Things were about to change when a colleague posted pictures of his visit to Lake Elementaita in one of our WhatsApp groups with a sizeable number of flamingoes in sight.

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Image of Lake Elementaita captured by a friend who visited two days prior to our visit

lake-elementaitaLake Elementaita is just about 1 hr drive to Lake Naivasha, so we reasoned a day trip would suffice for sightseeing of flamingos. Our enthusiasm and hopes of seeing these pink coloured birds were raised and immediately a few of us decided to embark on a day trip to Lake Elemekntaita two days later.

The D-day arrived and all five of us boarded a bus also known as ‘matatu’ from Nairobi to Nakuru. However, we left a few hours behind schedule. Lake Elementaita is a relatively smaller lake located some 51km from Naivasha and 41km to Lake Nakuru.

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Approaching the Lake. The fifth man is the photographer of course

We arrived at about 2pm after spending about 2 hours on the road. With all enthusiasm we proceeded to the resort closest to the lake where we were warmly welcomed by the receptionists and security men. Shortly afterwards, a guide led us through some narrow meandering paths and a steep cliff with lots of cactus to the waterfront. To our utmost disappointment, there was no single flamingo in sight on the lake. Only a few birds could be spotted here and there on the beautiful lake scenery. The tour guide wryly told us the flamingos only come around in the morning hours.

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Oooops!!! Not even a single flamingo in sight (Lake Elementaita)
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No flamingos, no problem hakuna matata…. we still had fun by the waterside..

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Our morale had to be kept intact. We spent a few minutes at the lakefront, snapped a few pictures, absorbed the feel of the lake and headed back to the resort. However, the climb up the steep cliff proved much more daunting for one of the ladies who has got a high dose of acrophobia. The guys had a good time watching and laughing as she scrambled along the path up the cliff due to her phobia for heights.

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Back at the resort, we decided to proceed to Lake Nakuru since Nakuru town is just 35km away. We were told there are hopes of seeing flamingos there. Off we went without thiking twice at about past 4pm.

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One more shot pls…
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Let’s go to Lake Nakuru

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Fortunately, we easily found a Matatu for a meagre sum of 50ksh (0.5USD). By 5pm we were in Nakuru town. One of us had contacted a friend who resides in Nakuru town, so he served as our guide for the rest of the evening. By the time we arrived, we were all hungry but we were already running a race against time. We decided to ignore our empty stomachs, and charted tricycles popularly known as ‘tuk tuk’ in Kenya to the entrance of lake Nakuru national park.

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Lake Nakuru national park

By then it was almost 6pm. At the park entrance, we realized we were quite late. We would need a proper planning which includes hiring a safari vehicle, park entry fees, tour guide and all logistics that go with a trip to a wildlife park.  Hence, all hopes of seeing flamingos that day were dashed.

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We got back into town, proceeded to a nice restaurant, add a good meal and consoled ourselves with the fact that we had a nice time together. At least it was something different from the sometimes boring routine of the scholarly world.

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We must eat before leaving for Nairobi…

By the time we left Nakuru town from Nairobi, it was long past twilight. It was rather a cool, and quiet trip back home sas each person seemed lost in his own thoughts. It was an interesting day after-all…

The quest for flamingos continues. Maybe not today but definitely someday soon!!!

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New year, same old 365 days

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It’s no more news that the year 2016 has finally become history. As much as life does not necessarily consist in the counting of calendar years but in moments and phases, there is equally a need to reflect on life from time to time especially on threshold days..

Major lessons learned in 2016
• Many a times we only need to step back, relax and allow God’s providence to order our steps
• A pregnancy takes 9 months to produce a baby but 9 pregnancies cannot produce a baby in one month. This adage holds true in many real life situations. Short-cuts may deliver results sometimes but nothing produces lasting results than falling in love with the process and learning pragmatic patience.
• Faith, hope and love are three key components of a fulfilled and purpose driven life. And the greatest of all is love. Love for life, humanity, loved ones and what we believe in
• The place of waiting upon the Lord in prayers, worship, and contemplation cannot be overemphasized.
• In life, steadfastness, persistence, and hard work are essential in achieving anything worthwhile.

2017 Action plans
And as 2017 unfolds in full gear, I intend to;
• Work harder & smarter, love better, and dream bigger
• Align my plans and actions in line with God’s bigger will and providence.
• Keep learning and growing in matters of spirituality, life and relationships
• Improve on my communication skills
• Contribute to the growth and progress of everyone crossing my path at any point in time. After all, life is a journey and we all need one another.
• Finally, the race is not to the swift, the battle to the strong nor bread to men of understanding but time and chance happens to them all. So help me to be sensitive, to understand the times and seasons and to act accordingly in wisdom.

Masai Mara- 8th wonder of the nature world

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Masai Mara National Park, Narok

After two unsuccessful planned attempts, we finally got everything set for one the most enchanting places in the animal world- Masai Mara national reserve- renowned for the annual migration of wildebeest fondly tagged the 8th wonder of the world by nature lovers. The migration usually occurs from June to October between Masai mara national reserve in Kenya and Serengeti in Tanzania.

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The trip started very early in the morning. I am more of a night owl, therefore waking up early for any reason is one of those things I don’t look forward to. Thanks to the boss himself TAO my senior PhD colleague & countryman, his phone call managed to alert me and on time. Before long, we had arrived Nairobi the starting point of our journey where we were joined by an elderly couple, and a younger family comprising the parents and two teens – young Trevor who looks 13 to 14 years of age and little lady Tamika who should be about 10 or 11 years.

All eight of us including the driver embarked on the journey southwest of Nairobi and as usual, treated to the beautiful landscapes of the east Africa rift valley. We even had a brief stopover. A couple of hours later we got to the town of Narok- known in the world of anthropology as the region where evidences of the earliest known human conflict were uncovered. We arrived Masai Mara conservatory before noon but it took us another two hours’ drive through large swaths of tropical Savannah dotted with shrubs before getting to our destination – Masai Mara national reserve. We got to Manyatta camp where we sojourned throughout our stay at about pm.

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Manyatta camp, is a unique camping site with good tents. Tao also commended their food- they didn’t disappoint. We were welcomed by a middle-aged man dressed in Masai clothes by the name Joseph. Later on, another friendly and highly hospitable middle-aged man took over the pleasantries. He invited us to the eatery for lunch where a large Asian family and some few other tourists were there present, either still enjoying their meals or just chatting. For our accommodation, I had earlier imagined small red-coloured tents, the type used in “Ultimate search” a popular reality show in Nigeria. On the contrary, the tents we were led to were quite bigger and semi-permanent in nature with each one named after an animal- zebra, tiger…

View link for the full photo album: https://loisforthisgen.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/nature-masai-mara/

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A Topi happily grazing on the plain fields of Masai Mara National park

Ours had the name “Topi” or could it be the shortened form of Topista’s name- one of our colleagues from Uganda. We later learned “Topi” is an animal in the same family as the antelopes and also one of the animal species which take part in the annual migration. We both drifted into sleep shortly after settling down in our “Topi” tent but woke up just in time for the evening game drive. Our first phase of sightseeing in the national park.

 

On arrival at the entrance, we were bombarded by Masai traders selling their traditional wares. Afterward, we drove into the park, covering large expanse of grasslands. The savannah grasslands looked perfect as football pitches save for the fact that, you never know what could appear from nowhere if you dare play football on such nice, relatively flat fields. We could see the innocent looking antelopes, the tall male ostriches with black and white feathers, and the smallest species of antelope known as “dik dik” which were no bigger than baby goats. There were also the “Elands”- largest species of antelopes which were about the sizes of an average cow. There were the thick skinned, big headed buffaloes who prefer to hide behind shrubs, the female lions looking indifferent and minding their business, the long-necked antelopes in a distance amongst others. We were surprised to see Masai kids, some of them little more than 3 feet tall, leading herds of cattle in this same place tourist dare not come down from their vehicles. We were told Masais do not fear wild animals.

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Happy Impalers grazing on the Savannah plains

 

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Wildebeests – Masai Mara National Reserve

 

As twilight approached, it got windier and colder and after about 1 ½ hours, we retired to our into our ‘Topi’ tented camp

The game drive started much earlier the following day. By 8am, we were all set and it lasted for about 8 hours. Lunch had been packed into the vehicles for everyone before leaving the camps. Some of the highlights of our sightseeing were a team of four lions feeding on a prey they probably killed last night. By the way, it seems like the animals in the park are all used to seeing safari vehicles and clicking of cameras. There was the mother lion with her three innocent looking cubs. Yet these are the same cubs that will grow into big wild lions. There was the shy mother elephant with her two big babies. She wasn’t entirely pleased to see us, as her babies tried to hide behind bushes while she wouldn’t stop swinging her tusks and stamping the ground.

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Lion King… Hakuna matata (No worries)

 

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Mother Elephant – We aren’t here to steal your babies please

There was the big male lion who kept following a female lion around. A cheetah who had just had a kill- a medium-sized gazelle. He laid just beside his kill, glancing at us intermittently with indifference. And the rarest of all, a big lion lying lazily beside his Queen, surrounded by safari vehicles just a few feet away. They decided to entertain us by mating right before our very eyes. It wasn’t even a case of being “caught in the act in the act” this is pure nonchalant “I don’t give a damn”. A mating which barely lasted 15 seconds before the male lion let out a loud roar. We were told all the lions in Masai Mara belong to the famous Lion Notch of the marsh pride. They own the whole of Masai mara territory.

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Beautiful Cubs.. But don’t dare move too close

Just when we thought the day would be ruined because of a heavy rainfall, we spotted another group of male lions. Right in the rain, the biggest of them with a big halo of black mane did well by standing and squatting in the right positions for our nature photo-shoots. The typical lion king’s posture in his full majesty.

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Notch Prince says “Welcome to my world- This is our Territory”

 

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I fear no body “Notch Prince”

Our tour guide reiterated that; coming to Masai Mara without seeing a lion is like visiting Paris without seeing the Eiffel tower

On several occasions we encountered large groups of wildebeests, and zebras in their thousands. Sometimes, you might be tempted to think they are small dotted plants if you are watching them from a distance due to their large number.

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Wildebeest – Masai Mara national reserve

The most unique of all is the wildebeest. A wildebeest is a distinctive animal in that it’s like a hybrid evolution of several other animals- the horn of a buffalo, the face of a bison, the back of a rhino, the beards of a male lion, the tail of a horse and the rear of a warthog.

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Warthhog dashing off – Masai Mara National reserve

 

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Dr TAO and our Tour guide

It was amazing seeing these animals move in straight files as they journeyed in groups back to Serengeti national park in Tanzania. The other animals besides the wildebeest taking part in the migration are the graceful but fearful zebras, the dark horned Topis, the coke hartebeests, and the earth colored Thomson gazelles.

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Matching back to Serengeti – The brave wildebeests

On our way back, we were shown a cairn erected in loving memory of a European tourist who was stamped to death by an elephant. We were told he assumed the Elephant was harmless, moved too close only for the elephant to attack him. This is a reminder to us, that no matter how elegant and beautiful a wild animal is, a wild animal is still a wild animal.

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Overall, this is my most enchanting nature experience till date and it will linger long in my memory.

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Two jolly tourists were once here in Topi tent “Manyatta camp”

 

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Wonderful friends

 

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Thanks to TAO, the boss for being my adventure partner and making the whole trip worthwhile.

View link for the full photo album: https://loisforthisgen.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/nature-masai-mara/

 

 

Rwanda Vibes part 2- Brief tour

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02-07-2016 (Lake Kivu trip)

Fatigue seemed to have started taking its toll. We had agreed to leave early for Lake Kivu located in the western part of Rwanda, approximately 150km from Kigali and over 3 hours’ drive by road. Unfortunately, many of us didn’t get ready on time. By the time we got to the park, it was almost noon. It took us more than one hour before we secured a single bus to convey us to Gisenyi, city where the lake is located.

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We were treated to hilly views of the countryside, also characterised by sharp meandering roads winding through countless hills. Rwanda is indeed “the land of a thousand hills”. Volcanic mountains could also be seen from a distance, with their crater-like tops. I can imagine the beautiful sight on those craters.

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We finally arrived at our beachside resort at about 4pm. There are days when time is in abundance but no memory to be made, there are other days when the reverse is the case. Today happens to belong to the latter category. We wanted to have a boat ride, swim in the fresh water and enjoy the spectacular view all within a time frame of 3hrs 30mins. We managed to achieve all three anyway.

The boat ride was quite fascinating. It didn’t deter those who are aquaphobic leaned on the strength of others. Those who weren’t interested in swimming went back after the boat ride to continue snapping pictures and savouring the beauty of nature. Surprisingly, most of us decided to go for fried rice, a special delicacy commonly taken in Nigerian homes and weddings. By 7:30pm, our love story with Lake Kivu had painfully come to an end.

Awaiting us was another 3hours journey back to Kigali.

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The journey lasted for more than 3 hrs, and on our arrival to Kigali by 11pm, the whole Bus Park was near empty save for a few middle-aged guys. Getting a bus again proved quite challenging and a lot of haggling had to be done before finally settling to a fair deal judging by the circumstances. By midnight, we were back in our hotel rooms- exhausted and hungry.

The following morning, I learnt that didn’t deter some of the guys from exploring night-life in Kigali as tired as I assumed we all were. Dem sabi themselves o

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Today is all about touring Kigali before catching the bus for the road trip back to Nairobi, Kenya later in the evening.

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Our first destination was the Kigali memorial centre located in Gasabo district of the city. Since I had been there in my earlier visit to Rwanda, finding our way to the place was supposed to be straight-forward. Language barrier was a bit of a challenge though.

 

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Burning torch at Kigali Genocide memorial

 

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We got there at about 1pm. The premises of the centre offered a spectacular view of some portions of the city. We spent more than 10 minutes at the parking lot before we made our way to the building complex. We were warmly welcomed by one of the guides whom I recognised from my last visit. We were given a brief overview of what the place stands for and what we were expected to see. The first point of stoppage was a room where we sat and watched a 10 minutes clip summarising what went down in the 1994 genocide in the country.

 

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Afterwards, we all took our time, going through the images, captions, Hutu Ten Commandments, the remains of the fallen and many others. It was a deeply emotional experience for most of us. The depth of the experience cannot be fully captured on paper only a first-hand experience by visiting the place can do.

From the Genocide memorial, it dawned on us it would be difficult to get a single bus to convey us to the heart of the city- Nyarugenge where the city market is located.

We all had to mount bikes. This was quite distracting because our number kept attracting the attention of people. It was obvious to them, these were foreigners bubbling with enthusiasm to know more about their country. We spent about two hours in the market. On this occasion, we broke into small groups and agreed on a central meeting point at a particular time.

Unsurprisingly, Natty’s presence in our midst kept drawing the attention of her fellow ladies. We couldn’t help laughing at how they would stop what they were doing to stare at her, even turning their heads in the process like the ‘seconds’ hand of a wall clock. What on earth are they looking at? Men are thought to be the master oglers. Ehwwww!!! Women can be too o, but they see differently from men I believe.

By 5:30pm, the shopping had ended. We mounted bikes again back to our hotel rooms. A few of us made some video coverage of the frenzied bike race back to Remera, where our hotel was located.

Some guys had fallen in love with some Rwandan cuisine such as mushroom soup, special African tea amongst others. We stopped over at the restaurant for the very last time before moving to the park where the bus had been scheduled to depart at 8pm.

Overall, it’s been a rewarding experience!!!

More pictures

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Rwanda Vibes part 1- Lifestyle&Wedding

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30-06-2016 (Journey from Nairobi to Kigali)

After weeks of preparation and anticipation, the D-Day finally arrived. All 15 of us found our way to Accra road in Nairobi. The trip to Kigali Rwanda was supposed to start at 5pm but a few of us still hadn’t found their way to the bus station. This was a time when traffic was a blessing in disguise because it gave ample time for late comers to catch up. Ismael and Frankie managed to catch up with the Bus using commercial motorbikes, with Frankie’s case particularly funny.
This was going to be the longest journey ever for most of us, but one met with the liveliest optimism. Even Taoheed, who was observing his Ramadan fast could not resist the allure of what the trip promises. By dusk, we had moved out of the centre and outskirts of Nairobi. Unfortunately, the dark night inhibited us from savouring the beautiful view of the East African Rift valley, lakes Elementia, Naivasha and the scenic views of the countryside. The journey was mostly quiet up unto Busia the Border town, except for intermittent moments when jokes were made out of Frankie’s Fast&Furious escapades with the motorbike before he finally caught up with us. About 3am, we alighted from the Bus at the border town with dreary eyes. We stayed for more than one hour at the border where Willy and Birhanu had to cough up 100USD each for visa fees because they had no student passes. We eventually arrived Kampala the capital city of Uganda in the early hours of the morning. We stayed at the park in Kampala for about one hour.
I prefer not to include the unattractive incident which took place at the park but by past 11am, we had continued our journey en route Kigali. We reached Katuna, the border town of Uganda and Rwanda at about 5pm and by 6pm we had crossed over into Rwanda- “The land of a thousand hills”. Katuna is just 50 miles to Kigali but the meandering roads due to the hilly landscape meant the journey was bound to take much longer than a straight road’s. After about two hours, we started seeing glimpses of Kigali’s night view, spread across hills and valleys. At 9pm, we eventually alighted at Nyabugogo City Park in the heart of Kigali. The entire journey took roughly 29hours. That’s a record!

Rwanda, here we come!!!

02-07-2016 (Wedding! Wedding!! Wedding!!!)

It’s all about Eva today.

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Surprisingly, we all woke up early in spite of the long journey and the fact that most of us slept long past midnight. A few of the guys still managed to watch the ongoing Euro 2016 match between Wales and Belgium shortly after our arrival.match between Wales and Belgium shortly after our arrival.

By 8am, everyone was dressed and looking gorgeous, Judy looking particularly stunning in her model-like attire.

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Even Agana, who claims he is ugly wasn’t looking bad after all. There was enough time to snap some pictures at the hotel before the hired bus arrived to convey us to the venue of the wedding. We stopped over at a restaurant for breakfast. Out of curiosity, some of us asked for “cassava bread” which was part of the menu. Alas, the cassava bread turned out to be the same as cassava flour (Amala) back where I come from. I immediately forgot about the chapatti I had asked for and focused on my amala and whatever stew they brought with the food. Who knows when next I’ll get the opportunity to eat something similar? Afterwards, we embarked on our trip to Nyamata– venue of the Dowry giving ceremony.

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For those interested in marrying from Rwanda. Here are some few facts;

The first step towards the wedding is a small event hosted by the bride’s family called “Gufata-irembo”. Literally, Gufata means “to take” and irembo means “gate”. Figuratively, Gufata-irembo could be translated as winning over or taking ownership of a gate. Hence, no intruder is allowed to encroach. In a wedding context, it’s simply saying “the man has come to show his intent, and no other man ia allowed to trespass”. (I hope I did justice to that explanation. A Rwandan can explain better). As a West African from, southwest Nigeria I can liken that event to what we call “Introduction”.

The next step is the dowry giving event which could be weeks or months after “Gufata-irembo”. Afterwards the church wedding and reception can take place. The church wedding and reception could be a week or two after the dowry giving or even the same day.

The final event after the reception is a bride’s final send forth party called “Gutwikurura” in Kinyarwanda language. In the old traditional Rwandan settings, this final event usually takes place a week after the wedding. Prior to the event, the bride had to stay at home throughout the following week after the wedding ceremony (their own sort of honeymoon I guess). The Gutwikurura event simply heralds the resumption to day to day activities for the bride such as going to the market etc.

These days, the Gutwikurura event is usually held on the same day as the wedding day just after the reception as with the case of our colleague Eva.

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Back to Eva’s wedding, we eventually arrived at the Dowry giving ceremony about noon just in the middle of a dance session by a cultural dance group which consisted of youthful middle-aged males and females. The dance is called “Imishayayo”. If you find yourself visiting Rwanda, your visit is not complete without you seeing the Imishayayo dance.

 

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Male and female Imishayayo dansers
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Female Imishayayo dancers in their colourful Imishanana attires
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Male Imishayayo dansers

 

Unfortunately, the whole event was conducted in Kinyarwanda-the national language. We understood practically no word. However, we observed a dialogue which took place between an elderly man from the bride’s family and another elderly man from the groom’s side. I was later told that it’s a customary dialogue where, the elderly man from the groom’s family tries to convince the bride’s family why she should be given out in marriage to their son. It’s usually a funny dialogue only Rwandans can fully understand.

 

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Rwandese bridesmaids

 

Overall, it was a colourful event. We were treated to some Rwandan cuisine at the end of the event before we moved over to the church.

The Church event took place in a neighbourhood called Nyamirambo. Surprisingly, the event was quite short, lasting about 30minutes. I was told Church wedding only lasts for 30 to 40 mins. Again, the event was conducted in Kinyarwanda, meaning, we understood nothing. The event only consisted few minutes of music, some minutes of preaching and finally the taking of the vows.

From church, our bus conveyed us to the presidential palace Museum, Kanombe- venue of the reception. Presidential palace museum is a tourist centre of its own, which attracts visitors from all across the globe. It was one of the places I visited during my first ever visit to Rwanda. It’s a serene environment, with lush gardens and well-trimmed lawns. We started off with snapping pictures amongst ourselves and then with the couple. It was a beautiful moment.

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The reception event involved more dances from the Imishayayo dance group to the applause and amusement of all present- especially us foreigners who had never seen such dance before. There was also the cutting and sharing of the cake, and afterwards the presentation of gifts.

It’s been a long long day. By the time we left the reception venue, it was about 8pm already. we were too exhausted to attend the gutwikurura event.

It’s been a long and unforgetable day for us all.