[PHOTOS & VIDEO] The Habyarimanas: Rwanda’s skating couple
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You have probably watched a viral video on social media of a couple skating in wedding attire, that is none other than Abdoul Karim Habyarimana and his wife Firidausi Uwase who celebrated their union recently by skating on the streets of Kigali.
Unlike other weddings, where the couples prefer using posh cars to the wedding venue, Habyarimana and his wife Uwase decided to skate since it was through skating that the two met and fell in love.
On February 4, passengers, pedestrians and drivers were all left in awe as a cortege of skaters escorted the duo to take photos at the gardens near Kigali Convention center after exchanging their vows at Onatracom mosque.
The public was amazed by the free entertainment and were seen pulling out their smart phones to capture and record the beautiful memorable moment, which quickly went viral on social media.
Habyarimana, who is the founder of Rwanda Kings Skaters in Kimisagara, one of the few skating clubs in the country can’t thank Allah enough for the opportunity he got to train Uwase because it is through regular training sessions that the two started got to know each other and started dating.
Habyarimana is recognised as the promoter of the game in Burundi and Rwanda among other East African Countries.
The couple had their introduction and reception at Ecole Primaire Intwari in Nyamirambo.
When we got a chance to visit the couple in Nyarugenge District, despite the fact that they were enjoying their honeymoon, they opened the door widely, welcomed us warmly and narrated more about their unique wedding.
Habyarimana was born in 1990, in Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, and started skating at the tender age of nine. His wife, Uwase, too was born in Burundi.
Ever since he was young, he dreamed of skating on his wedding day.
“I developed a passion for skating at a young age which I practised by imitating what I would watch on televisions. Skating is a game which demands someone not to be afraid because of how difficult it is to learn but I was not worried about accidents even when I saw people fall during training,” he says.
Although Habyarimana was very passionate about the sport, he did not have any trainer to coach him. This however did not dampen him and he was soon popular in Burundi to the point of landing invites at presidential events to entertain people.
His popularity attracted more trainees and fans of the game, and started earning a living from the sport.
“I paid my school fees from the money I earned in skating. I was invited by companies to entertain the public when they organised events as well as participating in other activities,” Habyarimana explained.
In 2012, Habyariman’s family relocated to Rwanda but there were very few skaters. He started training young people to popularize the sport in the country.
At that time, he started a skaters group where they held weekly skating classes at the rooftop of the Kigali City Tour.
“The skating scene in the country was still in its infancy as compared to neighboring countries like Kenya and Tanzania where the sport was more visible,” he says.
It is through these skating classes that he met Uwase met in 2014.
“I was training children in Kiyovu and saw two young ladies near our training ground ,they stopped to watch what we were doing and were curious about it and started asking me questions about the sport.”
The ladies confessed how they enjoyed the sport and he encouraged them to register among the trainees.
“They told me they wanted to join but I asked them to first get permission from their parents since the sport can sometimes involve accidents because Rwanda doesn’t places designed for skating, we do it on the roads,” he says.
Luckily for Habyarimana, Uwase’s parents gave her permission to register and her love for the sport made her learn quickly and within a couple of months, she started training other young girls.
Habyarimana and Uwase also started earning money after landing invites from companies to perform at different shows and as their careers grew so did their love for each other.
Planning a unique wedding
After proposing to his wife and getting permission from her parents, Habyarimana and his wife started planning on how their wedding would be unique by adding skating to the wedding menu.
The couple wrote letters to the City of Kigali and Traffic police to ask for permission to skate on the public roads. They also asked their religious leaders whether it was okay for them to skate (because different religions have their rules for one to follow) which they permitted them to do.
On that day, all groomsmen, page boy and flower girl went skating with the bride and groom but maids didn’t skate because they were not prepared enough.
Uwase is however not fazed by that and says she loved every bit of her magical day.
“It is not easy to wear a bridal veil and gown then skate but I was sure I would pull it off because I have been skating for many years now,” she says with big smile.
The 25 year-old adds that she was so surprised to see many people turning up for their wedding ceremony.
Habyarimana says that he encouraged his wife to agree to skating on their wedding day because he wanted to demystify the perception that skating is a sport for men only.
The couple’s target is to keep promoting the sport and are exploring ways of organizing competitions and also registering the sport.
The trainers so far are helping over 60 trainees registered under Rwanda Kings Skaters’ club among other private trainees.
Every learner has to pay Rwf2,500 for a training session, and each session lasts between one and two hours.
Habyarimana calls upon every individual who has a passion in anything to do it regardless of the risks, although he lost one of his front teeth, his love for skating never waned.