I brought a few frisbees with me to Africa to introduce WYA members to a new sport. I didn't realise how incredibly revolutionary my little plastic discs would be...
In Nairobi, I spent an afternoon with the interns in Uhuru park teaching them to play. As I was first demonstrating how to throw, one of the interns threw it so it landed near a woman's feet. She picked it up to hand it back to me but was staring so intently at it that I encouraged her to throw. A panicked look crossed her face and she shook her head, I asked her again to throw it to me, and she said "so it just cuts through the air?" She threw it back and was so excited to watch it go.
We then threw around for a little while until a few guys walked past, one of them called out to me "I'm Obama's cousin!" I laughed and they asked me to throw the frisbee to them. I did, and then the second one wanted to catch also, I threw it to him but he crouched and it hit him in the forehead - he was so embarassed and the third one also wanted to catch. Then one told me that I was beautiful and should remain in Kenya, his logic was flawless - apparently white women and Kenyan men produce senators and Presidents, so if I had children with him, just think what our kids could do!
Here in Rwanda, the members have been equally fascinated by my frisbee. I threw a bit with them today and they are excited to learn to play tomorrow. The only problem for them is that apparently kids here play with paint can lids, and they are a little concerned about their reputations :)
We couldn't play this afternoon as it is the rainy season here, and it poured. While we sat inside listening to thunder, they asked me if I like the rain - it just so happens I love rain. They then said that they hated rain because whenever there is a thunderstorm here, people die from being struck by lightning, and also their shacks will wash away so they will drown. Apparently every major thunderstorm approximately 50 people will die from their houses being destroyed or freezing in the streets, or other related causes.
It just reminds me how priviledged, and selfish, I am that my whole life I have loved thunderstorms since I can watch it from the comfort of being inside or to enjoy the feeling of changing into dry, comfy clothes after getting soaked. It's easy to remember that people die in earthquakes, fires, typhoons, etc. It's much harder to remember that in some places all it takes is a rainstorm for people to die...
The members have taken such excellent care of Irene and myself. After the rainstorm the walked us back to our lodgings before they left to take care of business. We're staying in accommodations near a Church at the center of Kigali. Irene and I need to explore this Church, it is huge and we are both convinced that this is one of the famous places from the genocide where a few thousand were massacred after seeking asylum here.
One thing that I cannot quite accustom myself to, is how physically affectionate people are here. It is so common for men to walk around together holding hands or with their arms around each other, and women also. They'll do the same with me and I have to remember to be polite and reciprocate. I don't generally hold hands in public or hug people so closely that to do so with multiple people and strangers is a little difficult. Of all the countries in Africa I have been to, Rwanda is the friendliest and most affectionate. People here, especially children are so outgoing and will go out of their way to shake my hand. I think the entire country has made a huge effort to be friendly and loving towards everyone to prevent any hell like what they experienced from ever happening again.
Their thoughts are so geared towards peace, the value of each person, and development at all times - I truly hope they become the most incredible example worldwide of recovering from an atrocity by building as a nation and with a high development standard.