Namibian Artist’s View of Rwanda

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By Lize Kubersky As the plane soared over the mountain tops of Kigali, Rwanda and the neighbouring countries’ of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda and Tanzania the scenery was a masterful piece of art by Mother Nature. The breathtaking landscape in its profound appearance made an impression that included questions like, could this be Africa? An ignorant tourist who knows Africa only as a desert in terms of her Namibian background, which included a splash of contemporary industrialism, was refreshed by the innocent intensity of the colour, green in Rwanda. The plane landed in the French-speaking society of Kigali and the rain greeted participants of the playwriting for Children Workshop as well as a very friendly host, Jean- Marie. The prominent mini-busses of Kigali transported the ASSITEJ members to Alpha Palace Hotel. Along the roads, left and right, flowers and beans framed almost every roadside. Alpha Palace greeted the participants of the workshop with friendly accommodation, a pool and wireless Internet services. Rwanda introduced its tough, but delicate cuisine, as Chez John Restaurant so effortlessly catered to on the evening of the arrival. Here the phenomenon of beer ordering was also defined. When you order one cold beer you have to wait 15 minutes and you receive two big warm beers and an attached warm grin from the waiter. But when you order two warm beers in semi-French, you will receive a cold beer in mere minutes. One of the facilitators, Professor Francis Imbunga explained, he would have to sit long hours to produce a theory for the beer mechanics in Rwanda. Tuesday, 7 November a tour per mini-bus set the crew on a sight exploration as they soaked in the ways in which the Rwandans generated money. Shops and shops with direct but funny names such as Britney Spears Shop or the Titanic Tuck echoed the business melody of Kigali. People walking, talking, selling, and getting on the bike taxis that were around every corner with little children shouting: “Bonjour, Bonjour!” made the impression of the town lasting in diversity. On Wednesday, 8 November the Launch of ARTEJ and a cocktail evening at the Alpha Palace displayed creative dance, music and laughter among individuals from all over the world. On Thursday, 9 November all participants visited the Gisozi Genocide Memorial. A memoir of the millions of lives taken in the 1994 genocide. Information gathered at the site and is portrayed in aid to sensitize the visitor or reader to understand what the country went through. The visit to the memorial generated floods of tears among the writers and discussions followed until Jerry Pooe, Playwright, Production House owner, had the team redefine their understanding by becoming part of the genocide, by means of a theatrical game, entitled: ‘Stranded.’ The game was so intense some participants literally cried as they were made to understand the severity and processes of the tragedy. The Rwandan trip continued to provide much cultural diversity as the visit to the French Cultural Centre showcased a jazz show.