This morning we got up early and Jackie served us with a huge breakfast of fresh fruit, omelets, cheese, jam, toast and coffee or African tea. (LOVE the African Tea! HW) Leon Mugabe and Dean Nsanzabiga kindly met us at the hotel, and then drove us to the Kigali Institute for Education (KIE) where we had a series of meetings with the staff and faculty to renew acquaintances, discuss the status of the Memo of Understanding between KIE and CUNY SPS, and review the schedule. We met the new Vice Rector, and briefly said hello to the Rector.
The Rector was unable to spend much time with us today. He was about to leave to join an international gathering of dignitaries in the Rwandan Parliament to witness the historic official ending of the gacaca courts. These community-based courts, a form of people’s tribunals originally intended to settle local disputes, have been used to handle the huge numbers of genocide cases brought against ordinary citizens since 1994 (only important leaders and prime movers have been arraigned in the international Arusha hearings – which are also moving towards an end). Any local new cases that come to light will now be handled by the conventional justice system. We had been under the impression that the gacaca had been discontinued in 2010 so it was interesting to hear that their use had been extended and today was the official end date. Parliamentary proceedings, with an array of international speakers, were broadcast live for much of the day – a big event!
Returning to our day, as we walked through KIE to look at possible working spaces, we bumped into many KIE drama students we have worked with over the last two years. Valentin, Innocent, Magic, Deo, Theophine, John, Alfred, Jimmy, Jacques, Jeanne D’Arc and Babla. It was so exciting to see everyone again! They repeatedly asked after our MA students from previous years and were keen to know what everyone is up to. They had heard that Lexy had had a baby and send congratulations! They are also very excited to meet our MA students next week. (Some of them wanted to come with us to the airport to meet Joey and Michael when they heard they would be returning – until they discovered they would be arriving at 1am!)
The phrases we have heard the most often today have been “Welcome home” and “You are so welcome”. We certainly feel it!
It was strange to be at KIE without Stephen. For those of you who may be joining this blog anew, Stephen Buckingham was the main drama teacher at KIE. He did much of the logistical organization, and had a huge impact on our previous visits. Sadly, he died this past year. Several colleagues spoke of him today saying how much they miss him.
After a brief break at the hotel for us to plan for tomorrow, Jean and Leon took us to “Jura (Sky) Park” high upon a hill overlooking Kigali – a truly beautiful spot to exchange news and catch-up on the year. We discussed future plans for the Imena Cultural Club, as well as having further discussions about the work to happen at KIE.
Today has been sunny and warm, a gorgeous day.
We have returned to the hotel weary (jet lag seems more challenging when you miss two nights of sleep on the journey..?!) and desperately trying to stay awake so we will sleep tonight and be alert for tomorrow!
We are looking forward to meeting the KIE 1 drama students to begin yet another cycle of work and friendships.
Helen & Chris