From the deck of Iliza Houseboat, I enjoyed an obstruction-free 360° view of the lake. The sight of the gentle waves, Karongi’s jagged shoreline and picturesque islands took my breath away.
While bypassing Amahoro Island, which happens to be my favorite picnic site, I saw a wooden motorized boat dropping a group of domestic tourists. Their excitement rekindled memories of my first trip to that island. On that unforgettable day, I took a walk around and spotted broken utensils, fallen roofs and rotting volleyball nets. The island looked abandoned. According to my boat operator, there used to be a bar there but he wasn’t sure why it was closed down and eventually demolished.
When we approached Akarwa k’Abakobwa (girls’ island), my heart bled. This is where our forefathers used to dump their pregnant daughters as punishment for pre-marital pregnancies. Abandoned girls would be left there to die. When Abashi men from the other side of the lake came for their rescue, the poor girls ended up in forced marriages under depressing conditions.
I took a close look at Monkey Island, hoping to see my foes-turned-friends. I am talking about the little monkeys who once stole my bananas. The day I discovered this island, I left my boat unattended and started strolling around. While doing so, I came across my favorite fruits and reaped what I didn’t sow, literary. When I returned to the boat, the bananas I had packed were gone. I was angry with those little monkeys and felt like strangling them. However, that didn’t prevent me from returning to their island again and again. Each time I dropped by, I picked a few guavas. As I did so, they looked at me defiantly.
I held a grudge against them for a long time. Little did I know that they were also victims of theft and I was the culprit. Unbeknownst to me, I was stealing from them too. The guavas I was harvesting whenever I invaded their territory belong to them. I don’t condone their behavior but I should remove the bean from my own eye before I see the speck in their eyes.
The realization that I was equally guilty made my reaction questionable. I opened my eyes and saw the need to devise a conflict resolution plan. At the end of the day, sharing bananas did the trick. Lately, we have been sharing not only my bananas but also their guavas. The spirit of sharing has the power to turn foes into friends. Last time I paid a visit, my hosts’ negative vibe had been replaced by a friendly reception. Their hostile facial expressions had turned into warm welcoming gestures. This was their way of saying, mi casa su casa.
I was tempted to stop by and say hello to my friends but I had limited time. I proceeded towards Nyamunini Island or Napoleon’s hat as referred to by many. Nyamunini is a very steep hill. This cone-shaped elevation offers great hiking experiences and panoramic views of the lake. On a good day, hikers can see the Virunga Mountains soaring to the clouds along the northwestern border.
Not far from the French emperor’s chapeau, I saw a team of fishermen paddling their boats to their fishing spot. The fishermen in question were propelling three engineless boats in unison while singing motivational songs. Singing boosts their morale and enhances their chemistry.
As Iliza drifted farther offshore, I couldn’t stop gazing at the sunset. The turquoise water was gleaming and the sky was glowing. Lake Kivu’s sunset spectacle is something you would want to witness one day.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Karongi is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, Rebero Kivu Resort, The Click Creations, Kivu Tours & Travel and Exposure Ltd.