The views expressed in this blog are the author's own and do not reflect those of VSO

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Kwita Izina

And so we came down from the gorilla mountain and the Rwanda Development Board described it thus. "The pearly blue skies, often and intermittently so, turn into silver grey cotton-like boils, and then into ashen silky floating clouds of smoke, kissing the tips and lips of the imposing mountains that lumber in the skies with melody just like frozen music. In the North western Rwanda, the Mountains strewn along with their junior cousins that number in thousand(s) (hills), synergize with nature in a rhythm so inspirational and savoured by Rwandans and visitors alike with quiet satisfaction."
Mum and 2011 twins
Don't unwind your rhythmic synergies just yet; there's more.

"The enveloping canopies, the luxuriant vegetation that drunkenly leer about, the wild perfumes from naturally garnished flowers, carried along by the soft breezes that rustle through branches, give you a hearty appetite to simply either sit or walk and watch nature at its best in harmony. The equation, however, is made complete by the mountain gorillas." I swear by all the latest saints that I have not altered a capital letter, comma, or purple strewn word.
Colourful crowd outside the arena
These cotton-like sky boils, melodious like frozen music, combined with the drunkenly leering foliage and the gorilla sprinkled mountain, had given me a hearty appetite. Unfortunately the apes had eaten all our sandwiches (joking) so it was time to try and see what could be scrounged from the tented enclosures at the Kwita Izina (gorilla naming) ceremony. President Kagame was supposed to be coming and we had been told not to bring mobile phones as they posed a security risk and would be confiscated. However, maybe because the president was replaced by the prime minister or, more likely, because we were muzungus, we weren't even searched as we sauntered past the heavily policed perimeter and into the action. Rwandans, including children, were, however, subject to a thorough frisking.
The pathway reserved for VIPs and muzungus
It was actually quite embarrassing. All the ordinary Rwandans were crammed into the adjacent field enclosures while VIPs, who included any passing muzungu with muddy boots and nettle stings, got the red carpet treatment, strolling regally up the specially pebbled and flower-bedecked pathway. And yes, I did wave to the crowd as if I was Michael Douglas, minus the bushy hair transplant and botox injections but wearing fashionable, plastic over-trousers, a cheap safari hat and clutching my modest camera which I felt entitled to use as frequently as possible given my newly accorded celebrity status. My dark glasses, of course, made up for any sartorial inadequacies.
Police making sure the crowd don't get out of hand
The food seemed to have gone and there were coffee queues the length of Sauchiehall Street so it was back to the stage for the performance of Baby Cool a high octane Ugandan rapper. 'Surreal' (like my bete noire 'icon') is an overused word these days but how else can I describe strolling up to the stage in front of a tightly controlled cordon of severe looking police officers, imagining a new career as an East African roadie, when just a short while before, I had been communing with giant apes in a tranquil national park. Meanwhile the passive audience looked on bemused at the hyperactive antics of this extravert musical performer. Rwandans are a famously reserved people and yet this rapper comes from a country which is only 25 kilometres away on the other side of the border. It might as well be the moon. He attempted to crowd surf running, at one point, from one side of the field to the other to throw himself into the throng and in one case pushing past distinctly uncomfortable looking security guards. This is not the kind of behaviour they are used to at all. All the while he was quipping, 'hey guys, why so many cops, are you expecting a revolution?' Maybe it's a good thing most of the crowd wouldn't understand. Earlier, he had apparently dragged the prime minister on to the stage to get him to dance. I wonder if he will be asked back next year.
Baby Cool crowd surfing
As if this wasn't enough excitement for one day, when we got back to the hotel we were invited to the garden wedding of an obviously well to do Rwandan family. It's a good time of year for marriages now that the long rainy season is officially over. The dances were fun but we ducked off before the speeches began as, based on our one and only previous experience, they do tend to go on a bit.
Wedding dancers with cake in the background
The weekend fun ended with an exploration to find a patch of forest with dragon trees that we had read about in the guidebook. This was nearly our undoing as one of the moto drivers confidently told us that he knew the spot. An hour later we were eight kilometres up a mountainside having negotiated the freakiest road surface and most antiquated bridge system yet encountered in the country. I nearly fell off twice and my thigh muscles were tighter than if I had played a 90-minute football match. And we still had to go all the way down again because, of course, it was the wrong way. Everyone the driver stopped to ask told him to carry on and that we were nearly there. The cliché about rural Africans telling you what you want to hear was certainly borne out in this case. What was amazing, though, was the good-spirited way that the two drivers dealt with the situation, especially the blameless second one. They were in serious danger of writing off, not just us, but the motorbikes as well. Que sera, sera! There is something very healthy about the refusal of people to get angry at such minor (in their terms) inconveniences.
Dragon trees at $40 entrance
As you can see from the photographic evidence we did eventually find the dragon trees only to be told by the guard that we had to pay $40 each to get in and walk around. Best of all, if we were prepared to pay this excessive sum to visit such a small forest area we had to go all the way back to Kinigi, where the Kwita Izina ceremony had been held some 25 kilometres from the woodland, in order to buy the tickets. Is it any wonder, according to the guard, that only about five people a day bother to visit the nature park?
Towards the end of Kwita Izina the crowd only had eyes for the boxes of sticky drinks that were going to be given out

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Apes Galore

Well, there are definitely two things that people know about Rwanda and this is the second one. We thought at first we were unlucky, because of the crowds, to have booked to visit the gorillas on the same day as Kwita Izina, the naming ceremony for gorillas born in the previous 12 months. This ceremony has existed for years for the naming of Rwandan children but since 2005 has become a feature of the gorilla protection programme. It occurs annually in June in the village of Kinigi near the Volcanoes (Virunga) National Park and this year at total of 22, under one-year-old, gorillas were named including the first successfully reared gorilla twins since 2004. When we arrived at NP headquarters early in the morning, dances, food and medicine displays, and music performances were just commencing, put on for the special occasion. It was a double bonus. We could visit the gorillas in their natural habitat and then hopefully return later and participate in more of the events planned for the day long festivities. These were to take place in a large, open area not far from park HQ.
Twa (pygmy) dance leader
After our briefing and group allocation - no more than eight people are allowed in each of the seven habituated gorilla groups on any one day- we set off in a 4x4 along an impossibly rough road fashioned out of large basalt rocks and past some of the poorest people yet seen in Rwanda. I do hope that the economic benefits of gorilla tourism will eventually trickle down to these farming communities in ways beyond the occasional use of porters or the selling of mini-gorillas and T-shirts at the edge of the National Park. From there we were to begin our ascent into the mountain, hopefully, tracking at least some of our intended gorilla group, Kwitonda (the humble one), named after the 35-year-old chief silverback. This group originally crossed into the Rwandan side of the Virunga Mountains escaping conflict in the DR Congo. War experience seems to have made Kwitonda a more gentle gorilla than usual, hence the name of his 21 member group.
The habitat
Our human group consisted of tour leader, Olivier, three porters for those who chose to employ them and a guard with a gun to protect us against roving buffaloes or testy elephants. We proceeded uphill at quite a pace struggling at times to avoid tripping over fallen branches along the heavily overgrown track. Thistles, which gorillas love, stinging nettles, for which plastic over-trousers and gloves are recommend, and scrubby second growth were the norm with intermittent small to medium sized tree cover - jungle in its true sense. Olivier had been carrying a walkie-talkie and after around 45 minutes of climbing we suddenly stopped. In front of us were three National Park rangers whose job it is, not only to protect the gorillas from poachers, but also to follow their movements within the group's territory to make it easier each day for tourists to see them. I have only heard of one tourist party, in gloomy, wet weather, failing to see any apes which must all have been sheltering. I don't know if they got their money back to offset the bitter disappointment! The presence of the rangers indicated that the Kwitonda mob were in the vicinity. This was the moment when we left behind walking sticks, water bottles and backpack food with the porters. It's definitely not kosher to eat and drink in front of gorillas and, who knows, maybe they would snaffle the walking sticks for their night-time nests or for the more elderly members of the troop! Then armed only with (flash prohibited) cameras it was upwards and onwards all hoping, no doubt, for a special Attenborough-like moment.
Mum and 6 month baby
Now you might think that after all this build up and the massive hype associated with gorilla tourism in Rwanda - it is the country's second biggest income earner after coffee - not to mention the exorbitant cost of the trip, $US500 dollars for non-residents and $250 for overseas residents like us, that you would be bound to be let down by the experience. Not a bit of it. Nothing can prepare you for that utterly awesome (lapsing into teenspeak is justified!) moment when you round a corner and almost bump into a giant male silverback who just happens to be lounging in the grass. This was (the recently mature) silverback number 4 of the group who immediately loped right in front of us and fell in a heap in the open on the other side of the path. When a gorilla sets off somewhere you don't ask questions, just get out of the way as fast as you can. He then proceeded to give his nuts a thorough scratching. Typical male said the Canadian woman next to me.
Silverback number 3
We could see activity on the other side of the clearing in thick undergrowth and headed in the direction of what turned out to be Kwitonda group morning central. A mum and six month old baby were resting against a tree with a fellow sister caring equally for the babe. The vegetation was so dense we didn't know what was going to happen next and from which direction. There was a crash behind us and another huge silverback peered through. This was number 3 in the family hierarchy. His face looked distinctly Neanderthal as you may adjudge for yourself in the above picture. Then a couple of females bustled past with babe jumping from one back to the other. The only thing missing was a lollypop ape to direct the traffic. Over to the left another silverback made his appearance. This was number 2 in the pecking order. He might get a hairy leg over when the chief wasn't looking but he'd have to be quick or the Big Ape's anger would be keenly felt. All fertile females are, after all, supposed to be the leader's for mating purposes. This was all going according to plan but I began to feel like Patrick McGoohan in that old hit show 'The Prisoner' which had a vapid modern re-run on telly not long ago. Yes, you are number 2 but where is number 1? The tension was mounting. A few lesser members put in appearances. We had seen most of the clan but the very special gentle giant had still not shown his coat.
Hitching a lift
Suddenly there was a noise and the tall foliage behind us opened to reveal a much more mature male gorilla with a thicker mane of head hair flecked with grey on the sides. This was the main ape himself - Kwitonda. He was obviously a huge media tart because he promptly sat down and let everyone in our group take a massive number of photos. Anthropomorphising horribly I have to say that I thought his eyes looked very sad. Go on, click away with your foolish devices, shallow creatures. Or, he may have been unhappy because of his clearly developing ape boobs a condition with which I can readily sympathise. Soon, he grew tired of the paparazzi and in a trice Olivier was forcing us back to make way for the Paul Kagame of this particular world. I only managed one snap of his silvery back as he ambled into the bushes to have his fur checked out by some of the females. Gee, there are a lot of flies in the Virungas so heaven knows how many ticks and mites there must be. (In one those amazing coincidences my own primate partner has just come out complaining of an itchy back and I have just extracted what looks like a dead tick! No, I used tweezers, not my teeth.)
As we followed Kwitonda, some smaller apes were playing in the tree above and one released the biggest waterfall this side of Victoria narrowly missing one of the guides. How can creatures eating almost entirely cellulose (with the occasional protein filled safari ant) manage to produce so much urine? I look forward to replies from all you expert nutritionists. The icing on this ape cake was a hoped for glimpse of the newest addition to Kwitonda's extended family, a three month old baby which we finally saw in poor light in the protective arms of its adoring mother. There I go anthropomorphising again. The gorilla mother looked, well... like a female gorilla. She breast feeds the baby for three and a half years during which period she is infertile so the turn over conception period with female gorillas is never less than about four years. After a series of pictures with tourists and gorillas in the background (okay, so it wasn't quite the quintessential David Attenborough moment but it will do), it was time to head back down the mountain. Our allotted time of one hour with the Kwitonda clan was up. Even for a nature lover like me, who has had some pretty amazing wildlife experiences over the years, this was special and I commend it to anyone with the time and money to spare.
Anyone have nail clippers?

Getting to the heart of the matter

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Family Visit

Last week I had the opportunity to travel north towards Uganda for a couple of days combining a visit to study the work practices and statistical marvels of a fellow management advisor (IT whiz Ken) in the town of Kabarore in Gatsibo district, with a stop at the family home of our friend Theo at Muhura (S 01.72630 / E 030.26818 - altitude 1795m) one hour west of the main road south of Kabarore. Theo has been keen, for some time, for us to meet his parents although unfortunately Stella couldn't come as it clashed with one of her English classes.
A surprise at the top
We reached the turn off well beyond Lake Muhazi (where President Paul Kagame has a weekend retreat on the far shores). Five minutes of intense haggling later we set off by moto up the rutted, dirt road to the top of the range where sits the biggest Catholic Church I have ever seen in Rwanda. Close by and somewhat incongruous, given the surrounding privation, was the Motel Refugio Italia which I believe is Italian only in name and architectural appearance. You are more likely to be offered beans, rice, chips or goat brochette than a carbonara, risotto or spaghetti bolognese although, apparently, a Spanish omelette can be arranged.
Setting off to Theo's family home with coffee plantation
Some time later when the bone-jarring journey ended, as a winding side track finally petered out, we clambered off the motos and I removed the protective dust trousers and jacket which I have started wearing since the end of the wet season. My hands were a filthy orange colour from dirt churn after tensely gripping the metal support bar at the back of the moto. A few drops of precious bottled water and a discreet squirt of hand gel (what a godsend it's been bringing bottles of that) and some semblance of muzungu respectability was restored. Appearance is very important to Rwandans and I couldn't be introduced to Theo's parents looking like Mr Scarecrow. We proceeded down a steep hill passing between sorghum, banana and coffee fields. Theo waved to everyone tending their crops and they responded with amakuru toto (how are you, young one) - his childhood nickname.
An aunty plus family en route
I was introduced to several smallholders in front of their mud houses most of whom seemed to be aunties and uncles of some kind. I thought for a minute that we were going to have to walk to the other side of the deep valley when suddenly Theo pointed to the house right below us. We had arrived and after skidding down the slope in my city slicker shoes I went to introduce myself to a couple we were sifting through beans in the family's front yard. It turned out they were unrelated neighbouring farmers with no personal space to dry and sort their produce. It is common practice to allow others to share in return for the expectation that the yard will be left in the spotless condition in which it was found.
Arriving at the family home
Tharcissie (Mama) and Etienne (Papa) are a delightful couple who went out of their way to make me feel welcome. Although very poor they went to the trouble of cooking a delicious meal of rice, beans and peas with eggs freshly laid by their chooks. They even sent d'Amour, Theo's youngest brother, up the hill to buy four bottles of coca cola for us to wash down the food. That's 1000 francs (nearly $2) of scarce cash. Tharcissie makes the most exquisite baskets and insisted on giving me one as a gift. It is now proudly hanging in our living room back in Kibungo. She worked tirelessly on the one you see in the pictures the whole time we were there. It takes her at least three days to make one for which she receives a meagre 5000 francs (~$8) from a cooperative which sells them in Kigali. The coop provides the dyes for free and the baskets are made from local reeds usually papyrus. Etienne makes an occasional income from selling the coffee in his small plantation and they have two cows in a backyard enclosure. They are by no means the poorest people in the valley. The little boy, Gashuhe, in the bottom picture standing in front of me is a neighbour's child who was initially frightened by the appearance of the strange, white alien. It was only later on sorting through photographs that I realised how badly he was suffering from malnutrition. His simple bewilderment, face to face, now looks a little more haunted in image retrospect.
Etienne, Tharcissie and Theo with the gift basket
There are six children in the family. Theo(phile), 26, studies in Kibungo; Jackson, 22, is a taxi driver in Kabarore; Joselyne, 20, the only girl, has left school and lives at home doing chores; Theodomir, 18, lives with his grandmother; Wilson, 16, goes to the big school at the top of the hill and lives at home; d'Amour, 13, is at school and lives at home. There are, therefore, five people living in the house you see in the photographs. I was only shown Theo's old bedroom so cannot imagine where they all sleep.
Theo's old bedroom which he reclaimed immediately by putting his bag on the bed!
Theo disappeared for a lengthy period leaving me to fend for myself in Kinyarwanda with Tharcissie and French with Etienne. Although he hadn't spoken French in years the old school grammar came back and we chatted about farming, beer and the government's decision to move all the valley farmers to the top of the hill as part of its village consolidation policy. A neighbour has already accepted the decision and is set to move out. Etienne worries about not being close to his coffee plants but Tharcissie is keen to move as she doesn't want to spend her old age alone and isolated in the valley. She thinks a move to the hill top will signal better transport access, health care facilities and closeness to water supply. Paradoxically, the water they use is pumped up to the top of the hill from the foot of the valley and farmers, or usually their children, have to climb up to fill their containers with tap water.
View of home from the back
The government has promised to provide housing for all displaced valley dwellers although it remains to be seen where, and to what standard, the houses will be built, as the ridges have limited available land. The idea is then to knock down the valley houses and expand the area of productive farmland. Farmers will then have to go down the hillslopes each day to look after their cropland.
Tharcissie at work nearing completion of a basket
Theo had been off visiting nearby friends and when he returned it was time to head off down the bumpy road and onwards to Kabarore where he was going to stay with an uncle while I was working with Ken. Tharcissie and Etienne accompanied us back up the hill to await the return of the moto drivers. There, on a shady part of grass, three raggedy children climbed all over me chanting 'good-a-morning' as Etienne explained to the army of onlookers who I was and why I was there. I heard plenty of 'mwarimu' (teacher) and no 'padre' which was pleasing to my secular ears. A guy in a Manchester United op shop jersey (remember Ruud van Nistleroy!) made an appearance but he didn't want to discuss their disastrous second half performance in the Champions League final in May. Some of these onlookers would perhaps have been crowded round the Motel Refugio Italia bar watching the razzamatazz at Wembley Stadium on satellite television. What would they have made of it? Is it any wonder that some might believe muzungus have money growing out of their nose hairs?
Etienne, Tharcissie, Gashuhe (little boy in front of me), Keza (godchild), Joselyne, d'Amour
The crowd looked on, fascinated, as I struggled into my plastic dust trousers hoping I wouldn't topple over. Then, with 'murakozi cyane' (thank you very much) and 'murabeho' (goodbye), smiles and waves, we were gone. The downhill exhilaration was about to begin.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Kigali v Kibungo

There really are two Rwandas - Kigali and the rest. There is a city/country divide everywhere and that is especially true in Africa. Kibungo looks big and impressive on all the maps but is not even a provincial sized town by any definition, more a collection of hilltop houses running along two roads; one main, north and south, and the other, arterial, spreading west to the district surrounds. Language is one reflection of this divide. In Kibungo it is nearly all Kinyarwanda with French and English of varying degrees among those more educated. Here it is still the norm to use Kinyarwanda for motos, going to the market or ordering brochette and chips. (You don't really need to speak any language when piling your plate full of 'melanje' or buffet foods!)
Carbohydrates and a culturally interesting poster
In Kigali, Kinyarfranglais is becoming the standard. It is often hard to get people to want to talk to you purely in Kinyarwanda. In restaurants and ordering motos everyone seems keen to practise their English although some fall back into French (restaurants) or Kinyarwanda (motos). Which is good news, in one sense, for the further development of English as the lingua franca of the East African Community of which Rwanda has been part since 2009. Yet I worry. Are current education policies leading to a nation of people who will not be highly literate in any language?
Bicycle taxis off duty for umuganda
With English now the medium of instruction in public (state) schools from Grade 4 and in private schools from Grade 1, what impact will this have on the literacy level of the mother tongue, Kinyarwanda, which is then relegated to being just another subject along with science, maths and social studies (which are all taught in English). With even less of a reading culture than most Asian societies, it is hard to imagine genuine multilingual success. You can't even find a newspaper in Kinyarwanda in Kibungo and the standard of the press in English in Kigali is, unlike Nairobi where it is vibrant, pretty woeful and heavily self-censored.
From left - gravy, meat, mixed veg (a highlight) and kidney beans
A thing that really struck me this time in Kigali which I hadn't noticed before was how many overweight people there are, especially men with their little pot bellies. It made it easier to 'silver' ghost (one of my nicknames in Cairns soccer circles) past some of them in my guest appearance with the Kigali Kougars on Sunday morning. Fatness and the fad culture it creates is not much of an issue in Kibungo. These plump players really are part of what must be a developing aspirational class in Kigali. And, as elsewhere in the world, they are becoming increasingly sedentary using buses, cars and 4x4s (how their numbers have grown in the capital!) and motos to get about instead of walking which is the way of life in places like Kibungo.
A very moderate portion of melanje
It must have something to do with the diet too as hamburgers, pizzas and other fast foods expand their foothold in the capital. There are no McDonald's or Domino's yet but small restaurants selling such global fare are available and I have to say make a welcome change from the limited options down our way. Here it is brochette (goat kebabs) and chips, or melanje (buffet) where you pile your plate to the very brim with rice, chips, kidney beans, cooked bananas, sweet potatoes, quite bitter green leaves and tough meat stew (of which you are usually able to take no more than two or three pieces unless you want to pay extra). In Kigali restaurants the melanje (melange) vegetables are much more varied and usually pretty tasty (often carrots, cabbage or cauliflower in an appetising mix ) although the meat stew in gravy sauce is never any more than just edible. Where we westerners have a habit of piling our plates and then leaving half of it (which is why Sizzler's in Australia now supply patrons with very small plates) here Rwandans will gradually reduce the monumental 'bowling ball' of food down to nothingness. It is quite likely to be the only meal of the day when eaten out at lunch or in the evening.
The bar at Mille Collines
Nowhere more different than Kibungo are the fancy hotels like the famous Mille Collines where the film Hotel Rwanda was shot and where it is hard to be without thinking of the terrible events of 1994. The clientele is both international and Rwandan buying expensive beers and brochettes (melt in your mouth fish, chicken and beef kebabs) at prices per item more than double what the average Rwandan earns in a day. As a volunteer it is also possible to experience the earnings split as $270 a month between two doesn't go very far in Kigali if you want to take advantage of such delights.
Hotel Rwanda
The muzungu income divide must also be confusing to Rwandans many of whom think we are all on big salaries irrespective of NGO status. The key is to say that you are 'umukorerabushake' or volunteer, although that can also cause problems as some think that because you are volunteering you must have enough savings to allow you to work for next to nothing. Which is of course often true especially for older vols! You can't win. Theo (our language teacher), Justin (our house guard), Julie (our one day a week domestique) must look at our little Eee laptops sitting on our porch table behind our gated compound and wonder at the definition of allowance for being an unpaid volunteer. In Kibungo, where there is a huge barbed wire complex for Chinese (mostly) hospital staff (whom you seldom see out and about), locals may associate the term volunteer with umukinwa (Chinese person), although I believe that a lot of them are quite highly paid unlike the handful of Japanese vols who exist on similar allowances to VSOers. Twice now in the street I have been called umukinwa which is a welcome change from (u)muzungu. Makes me feel quite exotic imagining a new dimension to my blood line that I didn't know about!
Doing my bit
Umuganda (compulsory community work), which I attended in Kigali on 29 May (always the last Saturday of the month), was very different to the one in Kibungo which as you may recall concentrated on umudugudu or village security in the collective briefing. I was staying with Dutch volunteer Bert and we had an interpreter to guide us through the labyrinth of his umudugudu's politics and personalities. In this Kigali chapter the major emphasis was on church noise and permits to preach. Churches are springing up like wild daisies and the correct paperwork is not being followed. The umudugudu leader was intransigent in his refusal to let one group preach until everything was in order. They also had to tone down the noise which was bothering the neighbours. (Can we have this guy as our Kibungo leader?) The evangelical group was distraught at the idea of missing one day's vocal ecstasy and it looked, for a while, as though there was going to be the mother of all rejections until the leader, who had until then been looking stonily ahead and ignoring the pleas, gave a casual nod and said they had until Monday to come up with the right documents.
Umudugudu leader criticises poor umuganda attendance
The deference and lack of questions to the village leader were once again surprising to a westerner as he criticised the poor attendance (1500 people should have been there which you can see from the picture falls quite a way short) and need to perform various community duties which nearly all required small donations of money. This neighbourhood is quite well off with lots of big houses and the owners invariably send their house guards to represent them at umuganda although I did notice one well dressed and well fed couple in the midst. The leader stated, as in Kibungo last month, that people were going to start being fined for non-attendance - 5000 francs (~$8) for Kigali instead of the 500 francs mentioned in rural Kibungo. There was vagueness around how it would be enforced.
Local church in the umudugudu
A spiel was given on separating rubbish into recyclables and non-recyclables but no direction on what to do with the different piles. Maybe some people already knew although our interpreter didn't. A government level vice-president was supposed to be there but the visit had been postponed because one of the organisers said they had not been ready to receive her to which the umudugudu leader retorted that they should always be prepared. It's hard to know whether being ready meant buying in some fantas and mandazis (a kind of fried bread which is very popular in Rwanda) or providing more hoes and spades for the actual work routine which, on this occasion, involved even less labour than last month's umuganda in Kibungo. You can see me in the picture hacking up some stray grass which had dared to find its way on to the dusty thoroughfare.