Check out my song for East Africa…
Hey everyone! Now it’s time for me to leave Rwanda. . Rwanda is the densest country in Africa that is not an island. It is one of the smallest countries in Africa. The only country that is smaller is Burundi. It also as twelve million people. That’s amazing!
These are my favorite things about Rwanda.
The number one hotel in Rwanda that we stayed at is Hotel du Lac in Rusizi. It is the best because it has a restaurant, bar, pool, and a pool table. The food was good, too.
The top three restaurants in Rwanda that we have eaten at are Top View Hill Hotel Restaurant, Bourbon Coffee, and Shokola. Top View Hill was the best, and Shokola was number three. They have good food!
Something else that was fun was learning about their cultural history. I learned that the they used hunting dogs before they were colonized. They gave their dogs wild game meat to eat. I also learned that they made fabric from bark. I learned that the Belgians built a modern palace for the Rwandan King. I also learned that the traditional king had a milk hut and a beer hut. A virgin girl was to live in the milk hut. No men or boys were allowed in the milk hut. A virgin boy was to live in the beer hut. No women or girls were allowed in the beer hut.
In Rwanda, there are many kinds of primates. I learned that they have over 15 different kinds of primates in Rwanda. These include gorillas and chimps, humans and colobi, and all kinds of monkeys.
The food was good, too. I specifically liked the dairy and the break from vegetables. There aren’t many green vegetables in Rwanda. The only vegetables in Rwanda are starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes. Peas are also in the diet of the locals. They also had some goat, cow, and fish.
The people were very nice. They were very helpful by giving directions when we needed them. They beamed when I said “Muraho”, hello to them in their language. They said “Muraho” back to me. They were very friendly.
It was all like BOOM! It was awesome. Rwanda amazed me, because I knew nothing about it before I started. Before the trip, I thought it would be open savannah. No one would think that a part of Eastern Africa like Rwanda is hilly and chilly. I have never been in more of an amazing country.
The other day, we took a boat tour of a few of Lake Kivu’s many islands.
First we boated to Napoleon Island. Then we got out and hiked. As soon as we got out we saw some 🐄🐄 cows. Then we saw a snakeskin. We walked on the trail. There was a lot of 🐄 cow poop on the trail. We heard loud screeching noises all around us. We thought our guide said they were birds. When he showed us, they were not birds. They were bats. Huge fruit bats. They freaked out my parents.
When we got to the top, our guide showed us 🐄 cow island. I called it Grandpa Catfish Island because it looked like an old catfish. There were many 🐄🐄 cows on Grandpa Catfish Island and Napoleon Island. We got back down, saw many lizards, and then saw the 🐄🐄 cows again. Some of the 🐄🐄 cows were calves.
Then we headed to King Island. There we saw a monkey. We gave the monkey some bananas. He peeled and ate all the bananas.
Then we went to Peace Island. People camped on it. We swam there. We had to head back because there was a storm.
Our day was fun. We had seen a monkey, some 🐄🐄 cows, bats, and lizards. It was a very exciting day.
The Rwandan Genocide was one of the worst things that happened in the history of the Earth. It is so bad it is only comparable to what happened with Hitler and the Jews and the Genocide in Cambodia. In just twenty minutes 1,000 people were killed. That’s 50 people per minute. In total 1,000,000 people were killed, and 2,000,000 people were misplaced. At that time, there were only 7,000,000 people in the country.
None of this hate was present before the late 1800s. It all stirred up when Rwanda was colonized.
First the Germans came in 1895 and declared Rwanda a German colony. When the Germans lost in World War I, the Belgians came and took it over. There was some good in colonization. The colonists brought technology, education, healthcare, knowledge. But for the most part, colonization was bad.
When the Belgians introduced the Identity Card, they classified everyone as Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa. You were classified based on the number of cows you or the oldest male member of your family had. Tutsi people had at least ten cows. The Hutu majority had less than ten cows. According to the Belgians, 1% was Twa, 15% was Tutsi, and 84% was the Hutu majority. The Belgians preferred the Tutsi and used them in controlling the country. The Tutsi were getting the best jobs, educations, and the most power. This made some of the Hutu afraid that they would take their jobs and money and other things away. After time, some of the Hutu’s fear turned into hate, which eventually turned into pure evil. When the Hutus were put into power, some of them separated Tutsis from Hutus at school. Some Hutus started killing Tutsis, though it was small scale. When Rwanda gained independence from Belgium in 1962, they put the Hutu majority in power. In the early 1990s, some of the Hutu started preparing for genocide. They were taught how to use guns. Those who didn’t have guns, which was most people, used a machete.
The U.N. was tipped off. They knew that something terrible would happen. But none of the world, not Japan, not Russia, none of Europe, not even the U.S. interfered. One of the most horribly amazing parts of the story is that many countries had the ability to stop it, but they chose not to. They were not just tipped off like, “hey, we’re getting suspicious”. They knew very specific details. They knew that Rwanda was borrowing money from French banks to buy thousands of machete from China. There were two thousand troops from Western countries inside Rwanda at the time. They just came in and took the white people out.
One day, the Hutu president was in a plane with the president of Burundi when his plane was shot down. There were no survivors. The Hutu people said, “Hey look, the Tutsi have killed our president”. A few hours later, the genocide started. No one knows who shot the plane down. It could have been a Tutsi person, like the Hutu said. It also could have been the Hutu themselves.
Many Tutsi was killed during the genocide. Not all the Hutu were killing the Tutsi. Some Hutu resisted the genocide. Those who did where also killed. Innocent men, women and children were killed. Even young babies were killed. So many young adults were killed that when I go walking around with my parents 20 years later, we almost never see someone my parents’ age.
But there is also a story of hope inside. A mostly Tutsi army came back and stopped the Genocide. No other country helped them fight, not even their neighbors, Uganda, Burundi, Tazania or the D.R.C. They were all alone in fighting. Twenty years later, there are very tall skyscrapers in Kigali. It is very organized. People even stop at red lights and crosswalks! This might seem casual to you, but no one did this in Uganda or Kenya! Now they are making a huge effort to forgive and move forward. It sounds very hard to forgive, but it is even harder to forget. Imagine being a survivor of the Genocide and your family members have been killed. How hard is it to forgive and not seek revenge?
The impact of the story on me is like running into a brick wall. It just amazed me that Rwanda was like that 20 years ago. Rwanda is just so clean and organized today that it is hard to image that people were being killed in mass 20 years ago. In fact, Kigali looks like this!
One day, we went to a The King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza, Rwanda. There were three parts. One part was the traditional palace, the next was the royal cattle, and finally was the modern palace.
My favorite part was the royal cattle. First we saw the big adult cattle, and then we saw their baby cattle. When we saw the adult cattle, the royal cattle caretaker came and let us in. He brought a pregnant cow. The royal cattle are special because they all have horns on their heads and beads on their heads. They are also very smart and sweet, like pet dogs. The royal calves were like this too. Their ages ranged from five months to one month. When they reached a year old, their horns were fully grown.
Before that, we saw the traditional hut complex. First we saw the king’s large hut. It had a bed for two. Even though the wife was not allowed to climb over the husband to get into the bed, the husband could climb over the wife. Next we saw the milk hut. At the front were many jugs. The biggest was used for shaking milk to make butter. One jug had the purpose of storing milk. A different one was used in collecting milk from the cow. Another was used in drinking for the adults. An alternative jug was used in drinking for the children. The smallest one was used for the little babies to drink from. Every family had a pot to shake milk into butter with. When their daughter got married, she took one with her. This tradition still goes on today. Next we saw the beer hut. The pots there were made to store beer and to test beer.
The next museum was the modern palace. I mainly looked at the maps of Rwanda’s kingdom. In the 19th century, their kingdom extended into the D.R.C, Uganda, Brundi, and Tanzania, but when Europe divided Africa, their kingdom shrunk.
It was all very nice.
Yesterday I rode my first motorcycle, called a boda boda. It’s called a boda boda because people would shout “boarder boarder” to get a ride to the boarder, but with their accent it sounds like boda boda. I thought it would be scary but it was actually fun!
Halfway through our total time in Rwanda, we found ourselves in the Butare/Huye bus station trying to get to Nyungwe National Park. In the end we got a taxi. On our way there, we saw a big chimpanzee. He crossed the road and kept on walking. The next day we took a 130-meter canopy walk. First we hiked down, then did the walk above the canopy, then hiked back. That day we walked our tails off because we had walked five extra miles in the tea plantations. That’s another post.
The day after we trekked for Angolan Colobus Monkeys. Their leader was very strange. She was a hybrid of Red-tailed monkey and Mona monkey. Colobus monkeys have many natural predators. Young are taken by large eagles, and chimpanzees will occasionally kill and eat adult colobuses. A colobus is no match compared to a chimpanzee. The weakest chimpanzee is 20 times stronger than the strongest colobus. Colobus Monkeys avoid them by sitting in little branches that cannot support the weight of a chimp. Chimps catch them by hiding in branches when they jump to branch to branch. The chimps kill Colobus Monkeys by breaking their necks. They are eaten with herbs, like a colobus casserole. But, their leader did not allow this, because when the chimps came, she would be in front. The chimps would turn around, because Mona monkeys are friends with chimps. We saw them follow the leader and we walked back through the tea plantations. I’m so tired but I don’t have to go to sleep now.