We have come a long way since those days when electricity shortage in the country was so acute! Today, it is amazingly well managed even with the few resources in our land. We have managed to keep our clean streets well lit throughout the nights and whenever power is cut, the darkness lasts not more than 5 minutes.
Bravo indeed! Several years ago, it was a very different story! I remember during the mid 90s when a power cut interrupted a high level wedding in Gisenyi. Had it not been the brilliant idea of using a unique plan B, the wedding would have been in serious jeopardy!
It was a high ranking wedding ceremony which saw me become a best man in unexpected circumstances. You see, the original best man was none other than Afande Niko himself.
He had performed his duties as a best man for only one hour. In his typical naughty ways, he had smuggled in several bottles of Uganda Waragi and mixing the contents with the many bottles of soda at the high table. During those years, it was a taboo to serve alcohol at wedding ceremonies, especially if it was an Afande sitting at the high table.
So when Afande Niko sprung up from his high table and performed a Zulu-like war cry, the MC moved in fast and requested that Niko receive his marching orders. The bridegroom was spared for inevitable reasons. This was followed by a snappy reshuffle, which saw the enthronement of Diaspoman as the makeshift best man. The new best man was supposed to represent the already drunk bridegroom by opening the dance as well as receiving gifts from the guests.
I could not complain much about my performance as a stand-in best man. Apart from the disappointment of not squeezing a “Mugyeni” at a zero-distance due to her “avance”, everything else seemed to be taking the right course. But then, the electricity supply came to a sudden halt. The wedding hall was in total darkness.
The music stopped and confusion set in. From nowhere, thugs stormed into the hall and began grabbing guests’ valuables. They took anything and everything ranging from wristwatches to ladies’ handbags. Guests started screaming and wailing, as thugs trampled all over the place.
Being the responsible best man that I was, I carefully guided the bride to the high table. I asked her to take cover lest a flying bottle hit her nose! As for the bridegroom, there was no need for worry. This is because the bridegroom was very much asleep and releasing prolonged sounds of snoring.
Possibly, he was dreaming of his honeymoon somewhere in Cape Town. Smokers started to light their matchboxes to provide some light. The thugs were already heading for the exits with their loot. These days, people use mobile phones as a source of light during a brief blackout. But in those days, there were no mobile phones in Rwanda!
Anyways, the wedding ceremony was more or less closed. But thanks to a volunteer who used his wit to save the day. His was a Plan B! This man convinced us that he could provide lights “free of charge”. He was not going to use a generator. He was not even going to install a solar system. No way!
Instead, he picked up his car keys and headed for his Carina. During those days, you had to own a Carina in order to be ranked among the top cream in society. He quickly jumped into the car and started it. He reversed it and positioned it at an angle where it faced the main hall. He then switched on his full lights, which instantly flooded the room.
The experiment worked and more volunteers helped out with their car lights. Stability was restored and guests went back to their seats. It was time for the old men to make their usual concluding remarks and exchange bottles of whisky.
As for me, it was time to retire. I stealthily crept out to join Aggrey and Jean Claude. We had seen enough. We decided to map out our plan on how to leave Gisenyi for home sweet home, Kigali.