Me-go: Around-the-World

Me-go Mix: Track 2


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Me-go Mix: Track 2
“Amanda” — Javex

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My first morning in Kigali, Rwanda, Grace and I woke up to a man knocking on our hotel room door. It was the hotel manager, insisting in broken English, that there was a man waiting for us in reception. Despite my insistence that I don’t know any men in Rwanda, the manager was equally insistent that there was an American man upstairs that needed to see us at eight in the morning. I asked for his name and a slip of paper with an unfamiliar name was returned. Grace eventually figured out that our early morning visitor was an Israeli man she had met in Uganda.

We had lots of errands to run, most importantly getting our hands on some local currency, but Grace’s friend insisted on breakfast first. It was in a small basement restaurant eating an omelet that I first heard “Amanda.” I liked the energy of the song and it immediately made me think about my good friend back home named Amanda. Our waiter didn’t speak English (one reason for the omelet, which translates accurately in most languages) so I approached the most well-dressed man behind the counter, pointed to the air and said “music?”

He spoke English, uncommon for Rwanda, but didn’t know who the song was by. The rest of the staff bustled around me exchanging confused looks. He explained that the song wasn’t on a CD or the radio, it was playing off the computer. Without missing a beat he suggested that he give me the mp3 if I liked it so much. I grabbed my USB flash drive from my daybag (yes, along with a compass and a knife, a flash drive is part of my daily kit) and handed it over. My flash drive usually serves to transfer non-sensitive files between my Mac and public PCs running Windows on the road. Naturally, it was riddled with viruses that don’t show up on Macs (and I can’t see) so the man cleaned the drive of viruses before uploaded the mp3. Although Rwandans appear more reserved than Kenyans and Ugandans they are friendly once you get to talking.

It should be noted that, although I found the song in Rwanda, “Amanda” isn’t a Rwandan song. The lyrics are Swahili (Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda and French) and the restaurant manager guessed that it was from either Kenya or Tanzania. Sounds good to me! Please leave a comment below to tell me what you think.

The main bus station in Kigali—a twenty minute downhill walk from our hotel.

5 responses to “Me-go Mix: Track 2”

  1. ken Avatar

    It is interesting to read about Rwanda as seen from the eyes of a foreigner. Thanks for the Amanda song. It is my first time to hear it and i kind of like it. And, by the way, there are over a million Rwandans in Rwanda, including myself, who speak english fluently.

  2. Mark A. Hershberger Avatar
    Mark A. Hershberger

    If Ken hadn’t already done so, I would point out that English is pretty common in Rwanda (just got back from there last week, see my weblog for details, including a Wolfowitz run-in).

    English, along with French and Kinyarwanda, is one of the official languages of the country. At least a good number of people I had to deal with spoke English. Even kids that we ran into in the village on the shores of the volcano lakes spoke English well enough to give us their email addresses(!)

    But I look forward to reading more about your time there. I think I recognize the location in your photo. Is this as you are leaving Kigali?

  3. Megan Avatar

    That’s great that English is being widely spoken, although that wasn’t my personal experience. I met two kids that spoke English and they seemed very serious about learning. Perhaps my impression is influenced by the overwhelming number of people speaking English as their primary language in Kenya and Uganda. I did meet a man in Kigali who was from the Congo and he spoke about five languages, so you can’t really fault him for only basic English skills!

    If you look in the ‘categories’ on the right hand side of the page you can select ‘Rwanda’ to see what I wrote. I was only in Rwanda one week so there isn’t too much. The French -style keyboards made typing up posts very time consuming.

    The photo is the bus station heading out of Kigali. I’m pretty sure you have to go there to go any direction in Rwanda. It looks a lot less hectic than it really was. Maybe it was a slow time of day. I think I passed through the bus station about eight times…

  4. Geoff Avatar

    It’s taken me a while to reply to this as I’ve only recently found the post – I’ve been listening to a lot of African music this summer (Cesaria Evora from Cape Verde, Orchestra Baobab from Senegal, Buraka Som Sistema from Angola, Amadou & Mariam from Mali, and the fantastic Ethiopiques series), so was very pleased to find more African music on a travel blog. This is great – really uplifting and fun, great summer party music. Thank you!

  5. Megan Avatar

    I’m so glad that you’ve found these songs. I have some more songs to post, although I’m not sure how many of them are African. Let me know if you recommend anything in particular along the lines of Lola’s stuff.