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 interacted with 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.