My Muzungu Map

By April 12th, 2014

Family & Friends,

For hundreds of years directions in Kigali sounded like,  “Turn right at the big tree, straight for a while and turn left at the Muzungu house.”  I finally found a city map.  A street map of Kigali is as rare as hot water faucets.   I found one at an overpriced French bookstore for 15,480 francs.  Where is my calculator?  Whoa,  it was only $18.00.  My friend mumbled, “Way over priced!”  I remembered Cecil B. DeMille’s quote. “This actress is way overpriced, but she is worth every penny of it.”   My map has names for about three roads.  The rest are just lines connecting other lines.  But, “Presto” or as we say in Kigali “Sooner or later,”  Kigali has brand new road signs on every corner.  They are large, easy to read and useless.  No one ever refers to them. All of the street names are numbers from 1 to 999. There seems to be no rhyme or reason.  I stayed at the corner of 27 and 372, but the next street down might be 208.  We think that the signs were all made, shuffled, tossed in a tumbler, piled in a truck and put up at random.  On the positive side, even un-passable alleys proudly sport a new “486” street sign.   So now in modern Kigali directions have changed to “Turn right at the big traffic jam, go straight about 2-3 gas stations and left at the restaurant where the Muzungus buy overpriced food.”   An African friend mocked my map.  He said, “Why do you need a Muzungu map?  Just go there.”  Why didn’t I think of that before spending $18.

G

gfriesen.ACT@africanewlife.org

 

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