When Mfashumwana went to Mbarara with some of his friends, they guzzled enough liters of frothy drinks to make Diaspoman jealous! Where was I all this time? I tell you, these guys moved from bar to bar and from discotheque to pub! Upon his return back home, I caught up with him for all those juicy stories. When he narrated his experiences, my mind flew back to the mid 90s when Aggrey and I used to hop from one pub to another during those mid 90s. We toured all the bars until we realized that the best move for us was to set up our own drinking hole where we would sell drinks to the public and at the same time kill our thirst.
That is how we ended up setting up a bar which we named “Welcome Bar” It was the latest roadside pub that we opened up in Kicuciro. Our target was to attract the expatriates who used to work for several NGOs during those mid 90s. Their offices were located around the Airport, Kicuciro and Gikondo triangle. We felt that the bar was situated at a strategic point since these expatriates used to drive along the road at all times.
In light of this, we decided to plant a signpost so as to attract our dear clients. Those days, the PVK administration was a bit lax otherwise they should have uprooted our Welcome Bar signpost. They would have plucked it out because we had put our makeshift billboard right in the middle of the road.
Whenever vehicles approached, they would slowdown thinking that a roadblock had been erected. Then they would realize that it was not a military checkpoint but instead a drinking joint which offered more than just booze.
The message on the billboard was clear. Welcome Bar was the place for you. If you needed to relax after a long day’s work, pop in for a cold beer escorted by nice roasted meat served to you by the best of the best. Having consulted a few gurus in the boozing marketing division, we opted for a unique billboard. It was unique, thanks to a local artist who came up with some interesting pictures.
The marketing gurus advised us against using any other words apart from the name; Welcome Bar! Instead they informed us that those days, pictures and diagrams were the in thing. They claimed that pictures spoke a thousand words.
So off we went to Nyamijos to find a fine artist. We told him to paint a nice signpost which would send a strong message out there in the market. We told him to bear in mind that our joint was not to be like any others. For us, we intended to serve booze at the right place, time and temperature. We also intended to serve roasted goat meat so that our dear clients were never to drink on empty stomachs. And then most of all, we were to engage the best barmaids from the entire region. The artist shook his head in approval and promised to deliver within 24 hours.
Sure enough, the signpost was delivered on time. I think our expectations were met and indeed this young artist had done a relatively good job. The pictures depicted a vibrant scenario, where music was played at the highest volume.
In a corner was a picture of a man gulping away at a glass of beer with a stick of roasted meat in his hand. Around him were three barmaids dressed to kill. Their bosoms and bottoms were shaped like mountain Karisimbi itself.
I believe it was those Karisimbi like bosoms and bottoms which caused many jeeps to screech to a halt at Welcome Bar. Sometimes, our billboard suffered from car collisions as drivers stretched out their necks to have a look at the pictures. In the process, the drivers would either collide with other cars or simply knock down our dear signpost. To us, the signpost was fast becoming our most precious fixed asset. That is why we nursed it everyday whenever those drunken guys floored it down.
That is also why we had to employ a full time guard to ensure that the billboard was safe and clean. We bought him nice tissues so that he could wipe away the dust from the pictures.
These pictures were very important for us because they sent a message to the passersby. Within a couple of days, Welcome Bar would fast become the number one spot in Kigali and in the process outdo the likes of Béa’s joint at Kiyovu of the poor.