I originally wrote this posting in March, while awaiting April. And later accidentally deleted it. I have written and reposted it, somewhat edited, because I think it has some relevance in our everyday lives.:
I arrived in Rwanda on March 1 and have enjoyed being here. And I still am enjoying myself. Originally my plas was to continue onwards to Zambia. However, as I am running out of money I have decided not to go, but to stay on in Rwanda. I am told that it is very different being here in April compared to the rest of the year. Each April Rwanda commemorates the Genocide of 1994. Between 800.000 – 1.000.000 lives lost due to hatred and fear of “the other”. The enemy within. The pace of doing and running things will slow down. Rwanda will still stay open though, as public officials will work half days. As I am here now in March I would like to experience the difference. So I am awaiting April. I am waiting for Memorial Week.
The atmosphere is different compared to other countries in the East Africa region. And it is not only me who notices that. When I meet people from other African countries some say that Rwandans are private and unfriendly. If something is a mental strain they might be quiet. Passengers on the bus here don’t talk to each other as much as in other countries in East Africa . It is a lot quieter on the bus here than in other countries. My impression is that people leave each other alone. They respect each other’s privacy.
I relate to the issue of not talking to strangers on the bus. Similarly like Norwegians. It’s not that we don’t like strangers. Honestly. It’s just that we are preoccupied with our own lives and activities. We are also brought up not to be too curious about other people. Apart from reading the gossip in the tabloids, of course. And personally, I think we are afraid of breaking the unwritten rules in society and being too friendly to other people. Because, what could happen? You might risk being asked questions about yourself, and possibly even making new friends.
On the other hand, when we travel abroad, things are slightly different. We seek pleasures and places that are adventurous and interesting. Multiculturalism is good. Then we are prepared. However, in our backyard we like it to be predictable. We might go out at an Indian restaurant and enjoy a meal of Tikka Masala.
The general norm seems to be, “whatever challenges you’re facing in life – just deal with it.” And carry swiftly on. If you’re very good, no one’s noticed the difference. It’s funny how people in two such different countries as Rwanda and Norway can behave so similar in some ways. I didn’t realise until I arrived in Rwanda.