It was dark out there but the moon and the stars were brighter than usual. I was camping in Kitabi Sector of Nyamagabe District with a bunch of Kigali dwellers, most of whom I had never met before. I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t find many familiar faces in the bus en route to the camp. Most of my travel companions had never crossed paths before.
After dinner, the bonfire was lit, beverages were consumed and strangers became friends. We sat around the fire and shared stories. This is as close as we can get to the oral tradition embraced by our ancestors. Camping encourages real social interaction currently threatened by technological advancements.
There was one annoying camper who was determined to spoil my night. He is probably the worst singer in the world but for some insane reasons, he never stopped singing. Some people should not be allowed to sing even in their own churches.
When I unzipped my tent in the morning, the beauty of the green camellia sinensis plants left me speechless. Plantation workers were already busy picking leaves with baskets hanging on their backs.
I had slept for about three hours, thanks to the worst singer in the world who volunteered to entertain us all night long. After a warm bath and several cups of tea, I checked out and put my bag in the bus.
It was one hour before departure to our next destination. Some campers, including the dreadful singer were still snoring in their tents. I spent that hour admiring the sprawling tea plantations and talking to the camp manager.
Our host revealed to me that he owes everything he has to the field I was marveling at. That tea sent him to school and transformed his community. Throughout our stay at the camp, a lot of tea was at our disposal but some campers including the worst singer ever preferred intoxicating distilled products. No wonder his vocal cords produce awful songs.
Tea is the second most widely consumed drink in the world behind water. In most households, breakfast is never served without it. Like it was the case during the Chinese Tang dynasty, this aromatic refreshment is also consumed for recreational purposes.
When I returned to Kigali, I had several new stories to tell and great memories to cherish. While camping, I borrowed a leaf from our ancestors’ lifestyle and enhanced my affinity to Rwandan tea. I couldn’t charge my phone in the tent I slept in but my mind, body and soul were recharged.