10. SOCCER BALL GIVE-AWAY #2
After leaving Saint Famille I asked the driver to take us to where I could look for some Rwandan clothes. He spoke very good English and on the way to the shopping area we discussed the Genocide, the subject having come up after the visit to the church.
He wondered how it came to be that we were in Rwanda and so I told him that on my website I monitor events all over the world, searching for the truth, and toward that goal I'd written about Rwanda and President Kagame and now wanted to see for myself the nation famous throughout the world for having climbed out from below ground-zero economically and socially to now being the lone example of peace, prosperity and good governance in Africa. He agreed with that perception of Rwanda, saying that it was a million times better than it had been before the Genocide and that what Kagame had done to improve the country was amazing. He believed in Kagame's wish that the Hutu and Tutsi forgive and learn to live as one. But he said that there were still some people who didn't want to admit to their role in the Genocide and were afraid of witnesses who could expose them.
I showed him my "Orwell Today" card with the All-Seeing-Eye logo and explained that it was symbolic of what Orwell meant by BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU in his famous book "1984". At that point the driver turned around and said, "And it's symbolic of YOU watching everything that's going on in the world and telling the truth about it, and being an 'all-seeing-eye' yourself". I thought that was pretty hilarious as I'd never thought of it that way before.
By this time we'd arrived at an area where I could find some clothes shops and he parked in a garage parking lot where he said he'd wait for us to finish. Bob, my husband, said he'd go give a soccer ball away and so we split up - me going down one side of the street to look in stores, and he going down the other side to look for kids.
The first place I went into sold only material, no ready-made clothes, and I was just about to walk out when I noticed a picture of President Kagame on the wall behind the counter.
I asked the shop owner if I could take a picture of the picture and he said "Yes" and then asked if he could be in it as well. I said "Sure", and then another man came out from behind the curtain and said he wanted to be in the picture too. I asked them if they liked President Kagame and they said "Yes, Yes" and then happily posed with him in between. The reflection of my orange blouse can be seen in the glass under the counter as I snap the photo. I thanked them very much and told them they'd be famous one day because I'd be putting that picture on my website for all the world to see.
I didn't notice, until I got home and developed the picture, that the photo of Kagame is on a soccer poster celebrating the KAGAME CUP 2004, which is so appropriate as at that very moment Bob had found some recipients for a soccer ball.
When I stepped out of the store I saw him across the street talking to three young boys in various steps of height.
He explained later that he'd approached them walking toward him and asked "Do you boys play soccer?" to which the boy in the beige outfit patted his chest a few times saying "goal keeper". Bob asked him if he could take a picture of him holding a soccer ball. They all looked bewildered. Then he reached into his backpack and pulled out the pump and started putting it together. The kids were still bewildered. Then he pulled out the deflated soccer ball and their eyes lit up when they realized what the pump was for.
The next two photos are taken from different directions of the street showing people running to see what was going on.
The three boys and Bob are lost in the crowd, but on the ground in the circle formed around him, the little boy in the beige is pumping up the ball. Afterwards, Bob organizes them into a semi-circle for an official portrait.
Notice how tightly the little boy is holding on to the ball, and how his friend has his hand on it too? But also notice that there is another boy there who seems to be holding a slightly controlling hand on his shoulder. As soon as I stepped back from taking the photo, and thanked him for posing, he sprinted away and up the street so fast that he was yards away before anyone noticed he was gone. Then everyone started chasing him and Bob yelled "RUN!" which got a laugh out of the crowd.
We talked about it afterwards saying how it was almost reminiscent of the little boy running from Saint Famille into the UN refugee truck, all those years ago. We were pretty sure that with those running shoes on and his attitude, there wasn't anyone who could catch him.
When we got back into the taxi and told the driver about it, he said he'd watched the whole thing. In the back seat of his car I found a baseball-size ball made of twine which he said was what many children played with, and he gave it to us as a present, and it is a very valued memento.
After that we went to another section of town where I found a souvenir shop full of fantastic Rwandan crafts, including a motor-cycle and rider made of banana leaves and a similarily made three-tiered mobile depicting seventeen characters in various Rwandan activities.
When we got back to the hotel we arranged for the driver to pick us up later as we were going out to dinner with Cecile, the friend who had given me the sari. But that gave us a bit of time to relax and unwind by the pool with a bottle of beer for Bob and a maracuja for me.
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