Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Goats and a lesson learned.






Wherever we go, we are usually accompanied by Jean Bosco, head prosecutor of the genocide tracking unit, and Joseph, whose job remains unclear, but he's somewhere up there "external intelligence." A week ago, we went to a small village to interview a bunch of witnesses.

Too get to the point of the story, whilst interviewing one guy, Jean Bosco burst out laughing, and hard. I started laughing, and for the rest of the day, every time I looked at him I would laugh. And it sucked, because the people we were talking to were shook. They didn't want to talk and were being really cautious about what they said. So a few days later when it was time to re-interview the guy, Bosco, Joseph and I left. We knew if we stayed there we would all laugh and the interview would be ruined.

They took me to a road stop with a couple buildings functioning as temporary housing for highway workers and some kids roasting corn over a charcoal grill. We bought some roasted corn and I began eating it when insanity erupted. Joseph started screaming, pointing at the corn and then he broke the corn in half and threw it on the ground. He went into a huge bag of corn on the cob sitting next to the grill. He would pull out a piece of corn and then drop it close to him or chuck it aside. He did this till there were seven corn in his pile. Keep in mind the whole time he was screaming. I was getting a simultaneous translation but couldn't stop laughing. This corn was too small, the other corn too rough, the other corn too bitter (which you can gauge by "the feel in the fingers when the corns are squeezed") the other corn too sweet..... I could not stop laughing.

The kids ran out of charcoal so we drove to a village five minutes away to find a place to roast the newly acquired corn. We pull into this village while and their local market is ending. We give the corn to some kids who take it away, I mean they come up to the car, Joseph yells some shit, they take the corn out lf the trunk and go roast it. It struck me as amazing that in Rwanda you can pick a village off hand and assume they possess corn roasting facilities.

We pull into the village in a white Mercedes with the tape player blasting the Rwandan national anthem. Blasting. Everyone runs up to the car to see the combination of gov't officials, Mercedes, and white kid in the back. It was a surreal African moment seen only in the movies.

I wanted to see where the corn was being made, and I walked through a series of alleys to find a room with a huge stove/charcoal grill thing, a couple of pots, and a skinned carcass of a dead goat hanging in the corner. I was immediately offered some of the goat meat on a stick, and it was great. This was not my first goat on a stick, nor my last. Nor was it my last of that day. Looking at the goat while eating the goat posed some ethical dilemma for me, especially since the night before I was listening to the song on the new Propgandhi album where they talk about having a dinner party and eating people that eat meat because meat is not to be eaten.

Then something really cool happened. I still thought it was so surreal the way we rolled into the village, it reminded me of some bad African ruler showing off for the locals type shit, but it wasn't. An old man came up to me and started speaking in Kinrwandan and I couldn't understand a word. All of a sudden, my two hosts get really upset and start yelling at him. I had assumed he asked me for money and they told him no way, don't ask, but I was only half right. He did ask me for money, but what made them mad wasn't that he asked me, but because he didn't ask them.

They went off on him about how just because I'm white doesn't mean I have money, I'm with them, why would he assume I have more money than these two guys who just rolled up in a Mercedes? They went on and on about how this mean needs to lift himself out of his colony mentality (their words not mine) and how Rwanda has done so much to try and get people out of that way of thinking, and how Rwandans at large are free of that mindset. Half the village joined the debate and agreed.

It was interesting.

As soon as I can figure out a way to a) convert the 100 photos that were taken on raw because a guy switched my camera settings back to jpg and keep them big enough to post or b) fix it so when i click on a photo I don't get an exclamation point (which worries me, have I lost my photos?) I will post all the photos from Africa. Till then, they come a few at a time.

Fela - Colonial Mentality FIRE!

http://www.zshare.net/download/60286083739ab7d9/

Mobb Deep - Shook Ones Pt II

1 Comments:

Blogger daniel arnold said...

my god. seven whole corn? outstanding.

5/20/09, 9:14 PM  

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