Saturday, 25 April 2009

Gitarama nightlife reaches take off point!

April 24th

Into the office before seven o’clock and working hard at census data for four hours. By eleven o’clock I’ve entered up almost all the maternelle data dna a few extra primary school sheets and I’m feeling pleased with myself. But I need to stop because I’m getting eye strain and my wrists are aching with all the repetitive keyboarding.

Védaste has gone off with the internet modem, but it doesn’t seem to be working in our building. We can get a connection but nothing is uploading or downloading. I’m convinced that someone else in the District Office is downloading videos or some such and taking up all the bandwidth. So I persuade Valérian to let me take the modem home to see if it works better in Gahogo. And it does in the afternoon!

I make a batch of potato and carrot soup for lunch; it’ll do me three times. But next time I really must put less chilli in – this batch is to hot it makes my lips go numb after a while!

In the afternoon I do another hour or two’s data imputing, then I have done six hours and I feel I’ve earned my keep for the day. I make a big batch of bean salad (dried beans and French beans) ready for the evening.

Tom’s been to the post office today and there’s a bumper batch of mail for just about everyone except him.

In the evening we go to Kavumu to Kerry and Moira’s party, complete with bean salad (me) and a big bag of teddy bear biscuits (Tom) and we’re partying till around eleven. At the party are around 12 VSOs or FHI volunteers, and about twenty lecturers and senior students from the teacher training college. There’s great food and tons of beer, so we’re pretty merry by the time the beer finally runs out. Then we persuade the Dean of the college to let his driver take around twenty of us to the new Gitarama nightclub in the college pick-up truck. We’re most of us sitting in the open back section, and the few Rwandans out on the streets have the spectacle of a car full of whites chugging past them.

At the nightclub we have a live band, and a pretty good one, too. Now this is revolutionary for Gitarama. In sixteen months I’ve only seen one live band before. The music is good, there are around 400 or so people jammed into the outside drinking area where the band is playing. But there are only a dozen or so women there apart from our VSO girls and a couple of very brave female college staff. (All good Rwandan girls are expected to be home by 8pm; in traditional families the father would bolt the door at eight. If his daughter was not home by then it was assumed that she was carrying on with a man, and that she had therefore lost her good name. The family would react by disowning her, and bolting the door was the symbolic act of repudiation). Some families still take the whole thing very seriously, and Janine’s is one of them.

There’s Manchester City playing Hamburg on the telly (without sound, and much better that way), and thudding music, and some very drunk Rwandans who immediately try to latch on to our volunteer girls. When the locals get too attentive (i.e. every couple of minutes) the girls come to me or Tom and we give them a proprietorial cuddle as if we own them, and to discourage the Gitarama gallants. Sometimes it works.

At midnight our muzungu crowd starts to split up. Some people want to go clubbing, but I know I’ve got a heavy night tomorrow so decline. (YES, I decline a chance to go clubbing. How sad is that?) I’m convinced there won’t be more than twenty people in the club anyway. So it’s back home having drunk too much and feeling badly dehydrated

But hey, look what’s happening in Gitarama – Friday night party; live band, a viable nightclub….. Verily this place is moving into the 21st Century. Tom’s gone to the nightclub; I wonder if he’ll dance. (I wonder if he’ll get grabbed and pushed onto the dance floor by a Rwandan bloke…).

It’s a really great end to the week.

No comments: