Sunday, April 01, 2012

About Safety

So last night I went to go hang out and chat with my friend Jane. She lives in the part of town where all of the government building are, and a lot of the bigger NGOs. We usually just sit in her apartment and have long, deep conversations. It's wonderful.

Yesterday, though, when we were chatting, her eyes shifted towards the windows and noted quizzically that there were sirens in the distance. This is odd, because (as I have mentioned previously), ambulances are few and far between in Rwanda. What was going on? She soon after got a call from her boss that there were two blasts that just happened in two different areas of town. One was the city center, in an area I was going to go to that day but thought against it. The other one was nearby where I work and even closer to how I was going to get home (and always get home) from this area of Kigali.

Apparently, two grenades were blasted in public, relatively frequented, areas, and injured a few people. No deaths were reported when I last heard. When I left Jane's place, I had to go through a military check point on the road to get home. The roads were pretty clear, but everyone was getting stopped and questioned.

The Friday before I went to Musanze to hike up that dreaded volcano, Gahinga. The night and/or day before I arrived there, some other grenade was detonated in the very town I visited. I believe one or two people were killed.

What's concerning is that it's nearing Genocide Memorial Week, and apparently safety alerts go up around this time. I guess more blasts happen around the time of the memorial... Why? well, my guess is because they are probably from the rebel groups in the Congo who are still angry about what happened 17 years ago. It's like they want to show that they're still pissed, and remind people that what happened then could happen again, because they're still around. That's my assumption, at least.

And normally there are security check points all throughout the city. I've been stopped a whole lot of times by security officials checking the paperwork of my moto-taxis. I am not sure why, or what they're checking, but they can definitely make quite a damper on your trip to wherever, with their big traffic cones and grumpy looking faces.

So I've been lying low today. The blasts might have been merely a nuisance, but they are a bit nerve-wracking as well. I went outside for lunch, and that's about it today.

I decided to make a mistake. Probably a dumb mistake. But I wanted to. I found that some mysterious person put a movie on my USB stick, and so I decided to watch Hotel Rwanda in my room alone today. It is a fantastic movie, and I think they did a fantastic job bringing in a lot in such little time. But, well, damn - I cried the whole way through. It was just such an emotional movie that showed so much painful, frightening footages....on the streets and roads I walk currently. Imagine my horror when I see the scene where the man finds himself accidentally driving over bodies on the way to Mille Collines and he gets horrified...on the road I used just yesterday! Or seeing people getting cut up with knives at the place I eat Indian food with my roommates regularly.

While watching the movie, I was thinking, "Why the hell am I here?!"

Now, if you would normally ask me if Rwanda is safe, I would normally say pretty much. Aside from being robbed blind when I first arrived, I have not had many safety problems while staying here. I walk around at night, I can walk around alone if I really want to, and I don't feel like my life is in jeopardy. Normally. But right now I'm wary and a little bit nervous. The violence has been a bit more frequent than normal, and I just want to know what is up. I don't know just how safe I feel going into town tonight, for example, for a little rooftop party someone is hosting. As I'm sitting here writing, there is a fight breaking out in front of our house (which NEVER happens normally - we're in a safe quiet neighborhood) and someone is holding another angry person back from doing something violent.

What's happening? Why is there sudden aggression on the street? Should I be more concerned? I don't know. All I know is, I miss my home, and my NYC street life a bit.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Don't take any chances, Kim. Stay safe.