Yesterday, I visited Rukira village in Murama Sector, Ngoma District. While in this remote settlement, I took a walk and felt the heartbeat of the community.
Touring Rukira on foot enabled me to observe and absorb a lot. Although my interaction with members of the host community was limited, I was able to feel their vibe and capture their spirit.
As I wandered up and down the commercial street, I saw a familiar architectural design. The busiest street in this Eastern Province village reminded me of what I saw during my stopover at Gikomero village months ago. This happened the day I rode to the western tip of Lake Muhazi through the off-the-beaten path. On that memorable day, I spent my brief Gikomero sojourn talking to a gentleman namely Muhawenimana Innocent.
According to Muhawenimana, the design of the shops found in his village, and elsewhere in Rwanda, was influenced by Asian immigrants. In the 1930s, a score of Arab traders entered Rwanda via the coast of East Africa. Most of them settled in Kigali, former Astrida (present-day Huye) and Rwamagana. "Their shops set a new trend across the region." He told me. From the look of things, this trend is here to stay.
Back to Rukira, I saw shops owned by the authorized dealers of Tecno, Itel, Star Times and Rwanda Foam, to name but a few. As usual, MTN and Airtel agents, donning their sleeveless yellow and red tops respectively, were busy selling airtime and effecting transactions.
Before I left, I did a little bit of window shopping and ended up in a sewing workshop occupied by a group of busy tailors. I could barely hear the whirring sound of their machines, thanks to the deafening noise from the speaker belonging to a movie pirate operating from the verandah.
I was tempted to talk to the music-blasting culprit but time wasn’t on my side. Besides, I had made it a point to observe social distance guidelines — which is easier said than done — to be honest. Maintaining a safe distance between myself and the nearest person wasn’t easy, considering the dynamics of commercial centers. Nevertheless, I did my best to ignore welcoming gestures from persuasive retailers.
Farther ahead, the map drawn on the wall of Groupe Scolaire Rukira attracted my attention. I spent a quarter of an hour studying continents, oceans and everything in between. It’s amazing how I traveled the world in fifteen minutes without moving an inch. This virtual world tour, courtesy of GS Rukira, was quite intriguing.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Ngoma is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, The Click Creations and Exposure Ltd.