Friday, January 22, 2010

A Bit More About Rwanda

I've been reading the book titled The Shadow of the Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski, a foreign correspondent from Poland who did outstanding work reporting from developing countries. The book is a composition highlighting his memorable experiences traveling through many of Africa's nations at transitional periods in their history. I read this excerpt, and thought of sharing it with you...



"Our subject is Rwanda. It is a small country, so small that on certain maps of Africa it is marked with only a dot. You must read the accompanying explanatory notes to discover that this dot, at the continent's very center, indicates Rwanda. It is a mountainous country. Plains and plateaus are more characteristic of Africa, whereas Rwanda is mountains and more mountains. They rise two thousand, three thousand meters, even higher. That is why Rwanda is frequently called the Tibet of Africa- although it earned this moniker not only because of its mountains, but also on account of its singularity, distinctness, difference. It is extraordinary not only geographically, but also socially. As a rule, the populations of African states are multitribal (Congo is inhabited by 300 tribes, Nigeria by 250, and so on), whereas only one group inhabits Rwanda, the Banyarwanda[.]" (165)



"Whether you enter Rwanda from Uganda, Tanzania, or Zaire, you will always have the impression of stepping through the gates of a stronghold that rises up before you, fashioned from immense, magnificent mountains. [...] In those early hours of the day, they are a startlingly beautiful sight. I myself often jumped up at dawn just to look. High gentle peaks stretch before you into infinity. They are emerald, violet, green, and drenched in sunlight. It is a landscape devoid of the dread and darkness of rocky, windswept peaks, precipices, and cliffs; no deadly avalanches, falling rocks, or loose rubble are lying wait for you here. No. The mountains of Rwanda radiate warmth and benevolence, tempt with beauty and silence, a crystal clear, windless air, the peace and exquisiteness of their lines and shapes. In the mornings, a transparent haze suffuses the green valleys. It is like a bright veil, airy, light and glimmering in the sun, through which are softly visible the eucalyptus and banana trees, and the people working in the fields." (170)



This is the country I will call home in one month's time. I do not think that I could have succeeded in describing the country of Rwanda in as much detail and eloquence as Kapuscinski has laid out in these excerpts. He is a man of description, intermingled to perfection with context and personal anecdotes. I recommend The Shadow of the Sun to any reader interested in acquiring a taste of Africa- not only in its complex history, but in the everyday life of Africans, and the implications that history has had on the people living there so one may acquire a better understanding of the African worldview. Read it, for it is a wonderful book, and when you come to the chapter titled "A Lecture on Rwanda," think of me, for that is where I will be...
Want to continue reading about Rwanda? Here are some websites to check out.
-https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/rw.html
-http://www.gov.rw/
-http://www.rwandatourism.com/home.htm
-http://www.lonelyplanet.com/rwanda
-http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1070265.stm
-http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2861.htm

1 comment:

Kim said...

I LOVE this description of Rwanda!! You're right, I haven't heard anything better! Looking forward to meeting you!