Skip to main content

The Bakiga Window: Oil Tanker Traffic Jam

An audience forms to watch an oil tanker reversing in Kigali, Rwanda.
One thing that strikes you about Kigali, having visited the city briefly on three separate occasions over the course of the last three years, is that it seems to be filling up with vehicles. During my first visit in April 2009, the roads were busy, but due to their orderly layout and good upkeep traffic seemed to move freely.

It is Saturday April 9th 2011 and we are stuck in another traffic jam in one of Kigali's increasingly crowded streets. This time we are waiting for an articulated oil tanker to perform an uphill reversing maneuver through the narrow gates of a compound on the opposite side of the road. 

One positive aspect of all these traffic jams, it could be argued, is that they are a sign of Rwanda's increasing march forward economically. That said, drive a few miles beyond the city limits and non-commercial vehicles are exceptionally hard to find.

The thing that I enjoy the most about traffic jams in Kigali is the opportunity that it provides to stop and observe life. Small peculiarities that do not exist in London that may flourish here, in turn making London look peculiar: babies sat on grass verges entertained  by any bits and bobs, young boys with milk churns tied to their bikes and hundreds of people walking at a leisurely pace as they go about their business.

As our driver comes up with an action plan, the most amusing thing about the whole scene is the crowd that has formed to watch this minor spectacle. Some of the crowd are laughing. Some are stroking their chins and discussing how they would have done something differently. Some are trying to direct boda-boda drivers around the obstruction. Some are even offering help to the driver.

I am reliably informed by some of the Kinyarwanda speakers that no one is cursing the driver of the lorry. Of course, in London, people would be screaming, shouting, sounding their horns and swearing. The police would have been called. Here, people either wait patiently, or casually turn their vehicles around to find an alternative route.

This is precisely what our driver does as we head off to the One Love Café.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

Cover image. © Penguin Books. I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English. From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together). She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing. In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the w

The Bakiga Window: Taufiq Islamic Primary School: Part II

In a manner so typically Ugandan, Yasim approaches silently and politely asks whether he can have a word with me – it is one of those ironies that a word has to be had in order to have a word with someone. Irony aside, he has heard back from the Sheikh and arranged an appointment for me. It is Wednesday 20 th April and once more I find myself en route to Taufiq Islamic Primary School. The morning started in the usual way: waking up sleepy students, ensuring that everyone had 'taken' breakfast and had a supply of bottled water, and then walking with the group down the hill, into the town. At the foot of the hill, the group scattered into many fragments, with everyone off in search of their own adventures. I head straight on, past the noise of the metal workers, over to Taufiq. After having had to beat a hasty retreat last week , I was unsure of who would be in my reception committee. Teacher Bright was the first to greet me, before taking me inside to m

Beach Huts, Southwold, Suffolk

Sleeping beach huts on Southwold Beach, Suffolk. Safely back from my annual visit to Rotterdam, my parents invited me to spend a few days with them in a small holiday cottage in Southwold, Suffolk. Give or take driving through Newmarket a few years back when studying at Anglia Ruskin University, I'd never really seen much of the county. Southwold itself is a beautiful seaside resort which happens to be the home of Adnams , a well known brewery, which means that for a small place there are a healthy number of pubs - suddenly Dad's choice of location made sense . On the early afternoon of Wednesday 20th February  I took a walk to the Harbour Inn to meet my parents for lunch. The pub was just under two miles away from Grace Cottage , where we were staying. This gave me the opportunity to take some pictures of the sea. On our way towards the see we also spotted  Georgie Glen  from Waterloo Road humming happily to herself on the High Street. Southwold is lovely,