"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


saints don't bother

Well, there's nothing like a little mob violence first thing in the morning to get your day off to a great start. I woke up early this morning to catch a bus to Kigali to deal with some issues and whatnot. Aside from the fact that it was SO early, everything was normal - the guard found a moto-taxi, negotiated him down to a reasonable price, made me practice my Lingala, and sent me on my merry way. But when we were heading into town, traffic was really, really heavy. I thought maybe this is normal because I never go into the city so early and it was rush hour for the matatus, but, no. We got to the hospital (which is near the stadium), and all of a sudden a group of men had surrounded us and were yelling at my driver to stop. One of the guys grabbed the key to the moto, turned it off, and the rest of them started demanding that my driver give them money.

I got off the bike and walked away a bit. A couple of guys kindof followed me, but they weren't about to try anything - it was broad daylight and we were ten yards from the police station. My driver just had this really sad look on his face and I wanted to wait for him so I could pay him, but I couldn't take my wallet out. This went on for a couple minutes more, then he was finally able to get away. He just pulled up beside me, said, "Hurry," and we took off. When we passed the stadium, you could see thousands of moto-taxis lined up inside. I asked him what was going on, but my driver spoke so quickly that I didn't catch it all. Apparently the mayor owns all the taxis and had required them to come to a meeting. When I got into town, I stopped by the internet cafe that my friends run and asked them what was going on. He said something about a general coming to visit and that they were trying to shut down moto traffic in the city. And also that the president is supposedly coming to Goma sometime soon. I don't know, and I had to run to make a three hour bus ride through the mountains.

That's all to say, it was scary, but I'm okay. I'm worried about Goma, but maybe this was just a one-time thing. The American guys I know are trying to figure out what is happening, and I just happened to run into a MONUC contact from Goma at the hotel here in Kigali, who'll learn what's up when she gets back there tonight. For now, I am glad to be safe at a nice hotel in Kigali. I need some sanity.


Blogger UPennBen said...

Glad to hear you're okay! That's scary. That's why I study US history--easier to avoid scary situations with the kinds of places I go. I doubt that there will be any mobs in the Iowa City archive this summer....

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 11:35:00 AM


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