People in Kigali have grown fond of assuming that when they spend a week without seeing someone on the city streets, then that someone is out of the country on ‘mission’ (read misiyo).
That is why, when you meet someone after a couple of days without seeing each other they will ask you, “hey man, twaraburanye pe (we have been away from each other for long), have you been out of this country? Look, even fresheurs is killing you!” Well, sometimes I used to think that may be some of these guys have been advised by their doctors to keep their mouths busy for medical reasons, otherwise how can someone who has not been within 100 km of Rwandan borders suddenly look like someone who has been exposed to ‘the good atmosphere’ of the outside world that changed their skin texture?
Talking of being exposed, I have found myself slowly getting exposed to the bug and therefore don’t be surprised when we meet one of these days and I tell you that you really are looking good and even insist that you have been out of the country. Some people’s self esteem is so low that they cannot think of anyone being of good health or smooth skin until they take a vacation out of the country. Most of those who think like that are those who have never stepped out of this country. Once they do that, they will realize that it is even worse out there.
Lack of exposure aside, my new hunting stunt is exactly that; getting out of Rwanda. My bird hunting research projects have deduced that birds will be interested in a guy who has just returned from abroad as opposed to a guy who has been sitting on his haunches in this fair city. Case in point, I recently lost a bird to a guy after I introduced him to her as someone who has been living in the Diaspora for sometime and is now back in town ‘to build the nation.’ This was a very big mistake on my part because the bird started eyeballing the ‘Diaspora’ guy with suggestions like ‘you are the guy for me.’ My intention was to make the bird feel that she was in the right company. Being neither too bright nor too stupid, the guy got the message and took advantage. By midnight, the bird and I were ‘just friends.’ My fault.
But trust the bird hunter to be a good student. Last weekend I decided to use the same strategy but this time to my own benefit, using the same ‘Diaspora guy’ who benefited from my mistake last time. We joined a table full of birds (I had never seen so many birds on one table in any joint) and started unleashing stories which fortunately amused the birds. Prior to joining the table I had briefed the ‘Diaspora’ guy that this was now my show and it is me who ‘is from abroad this time.’ The guy also somehow felt obliged to play along since he felt guilty and sorry for what had happened the previous weekend. So, as we talked, I would try to chip in something that could suggest that I am not very familiar with the ways of this city. It was after some time that one of them; exactly my target bird, cleared the air and asked, “excuse me but could you by any chance be from out.” I did not want to indulge in semantics because I was just glad she had asked.
As planned, the ‘Diaspoman’ jumped in to announce thus “oh, excuse me, my bad for not having introduced my friend appropriately. This gentleman you see here just flew in yesterday but one. He has been away in Norway trying to gather some foreign currency for investing in his country. That is why we are excited to be with you, daughters of the soil. You cannot see treasures like you around this table once you cross those oceans. So, I propose a toast to this lovely night!”
Things were turning out to be more interesting than I had projected. From then on, I started feeling pity for the ‘Diaspoman’ just like he had done the previous weekend. I became the centre of attraction for the birds as each one of them hoped that she would be the one I choose. This was also a dilemma as much as it was fun for me because how on earth would I be able to choose one bird out of eight feathery birds? But at least I had narrowed down my interest on one particular bird. That is how things ended. See you next Sunday.