Riding Into Twenty-seventeen
THIS is part of an apology for being so silent for weeks, months and God-knows-what. The festive season was quiet and smooth, spent with family and friends, that it even happened to last longer than expected. Yes, it was that splendid.
In March last year, when I joined a team of journalists and bloggers to tour the North-western region of the country, discovering what the Congo-Nile trail offers, I got struck by the experience. It left me with a lot of emotions and stories to tell. I took many photos and a number of notes about the journey, had promised myself to do justice to the art of storytelling, but a huge part of me wanted, first, to go back and go deeper. Few weeks later, I also travelled to a village in South-east Musanze, alone—although I got myself three locals to tag along—and then again to the district of Nyagatare (I don’t remember if I had been there before) in the North-east.
From the Congo-Nile trail, I learned that there are lots of rural development stories we are missing; that our coffee deserves much more attention; that the islands of lake Kivu, from the Karongi side, are so beautiful to experience; and that the kids at Ecole des Arts de Nyundo are so talented. And from the Musanze and Nyagatare tours, I realised that the best stories about Rwanda are not in Kigali. The smiles that I met, the perspectives, the fresh meat and milk bear bits of my convictions, although I have to personally admit my failure to recover from how much I got consumed by the Capital in the last few years.
Last weekend, as I headed to Kayonza district in the Eastern province with colleagues, we encountered three kids riding on a bike, a matabaro. One was pedaling and focused, another, in the middle, was holding the front-seat to make the balance, the third, at the back, was waving at my camera, before he pulled a thumbs-up. The rain had just stopped, the road was still wet, and the friend who was driving stopped for me to capture the speedy moment.
Beyond the sight, I want to know what the kids were up to—apart from riding of course—and where they were heading. Or why they were riding in the showers; or simply get to know them and what they are passionate about, if not what they do when they’re not on a bike. This curiosity seeks stories that might lead to other interesting stories and getting to learn about people across the country.
My in-country travel experiences last year, in the Congo-Nile trail and especially my trip to Nyagatare, inspired me to go look again and go to other places across the country. I promised myself to do a tour of the thousand-hills (not on a bike), look for stories and inspiration. Because, after all, it’s the best way to get to understand my country better.
When I told one friend about my plans a few months ago, he asked me ‘Why now?’ and I said, ‘Why not now? Who knows where the stories in 2017 will lead us?’
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