Kabagali: The raggedy side of Kacyiru

Kabagali is a neighbourhood in the Kacyiru sector, Gasabo District. Although Kacyiru is known as a posh area and home to most of the Government ministries, the same can’t be said for Kabagali. During day time it is like any other city suburb but when the sun sets, it changes its face.
Residents playing pool at a local pub.
Residents playing pool at a local pub.

Kabagali is a neighbourhood in the Kacyiru sector, Gasabo District. Although Kacyiru is known as a posh area and home to most of the Government ministries, the same can’t be said for Kabagali. During day time it is like any other city suburb but when the sun sets, it changes its face.

The place is swarmed with men and women with little to no education. They resort to selling charcoal, working in hair salons, bars or riding motos.  Despite their low income, they like to think of themselves as ‘hundredaires’or ‘thousandaires’ but not poor. People here work hard to make ends meet. They work like slaves and party like Kings with the little they have.

On Sunday at 10am,  Kasongo, my  lanky tour guide, and I had boiled cassava and lukewarm  milk tea for breakfast  at a humble  eatery  called Inyenyeri eshanu ( five star). (By the way, Kasongo is a name given to super tall people. In this area, your physical appearance curves your name. If you are dark skinned they call you Rukara, if you are light skinned they call you Kazungu and Kajisho is for the one eyed. ) We chewed our cassava as he filled me in on life in Kabagali. I paid Rwf 600 for both breakfasts.

People here seem to respect Sundays, and this is not because they love going to church but rather, they celebrate the day as soon as they wake up. I don’t know about the houses of worship as I only saw one Church (ADPR) and a big Mosque, which also happens to be the landmark of the area.

With our stomachs fully sorted, our next stop was the movie theatre. Kasongo chose Cine Jamaican Sport Video Hall. For most youth, Agasobanuye (translated movies) make their day. These movies are screened in mini-video halls where viewers pay 100 francs to watch pirated DVDs on 14 inch television screens. Local VJs (video jockeys) first translate the films into Kinyarwanda before putting them on DVD, dubbing all the voices, making jokes, and explaining the on-screen action.

These VJs then act as both interpreter and commentator.  Apparently this is the only form of popular visual entertainment in the area. We entered the hot room filled with both young men and women and a Bollywood movie was playing on a small TV perched on a tall unsteady table. I handed over a one hundred francs coin and we were guaranteed places for even the next movie.

By the time we were done with the first movie, my body was drenched in sweat and a not so sweet smell. We went to Mama Dola’s restaurant. Here, a plate of mélange (variety) like French fries, rice, sweet potatoes, cassava, beans and cabbage goes for Rwf 400.The same meal with meat goes for Rwf 500.

A bottle of soda costs Rwf 300. Mineral water is the least consumed commodity here; folks don’t waste their dime on water. Though it was blazing hot, some guy was guzzling mugs of hot black tea. Later in the day my guide and I hit the hottest bar in the area, the el parayiso. Here revelers drown in urwagwa (banana wine) and cheap liquor as beers are for loaded people.

By the time I left, ladies of the night had started zooming in on me the way sharks surround their prey before devouring it. My whole escapade cost me less than Rwf 5000.

 

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