Electric-green unplugged

Today it’s April the 7th 2018, a day that marks the 24th anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide. One million people were killed in a hundred days in one of the darkest, most horrific, most shameful periods in history. This post is part of the series ‘Letters from the Heart of Africa’ first…

Unguarded Moments

The basic facts I knew about Rwanda before I lived there were: it has rare mountain gorillas. Diane Fossey, the renowned zoologist, worked there to research the gorillas. a genocide happened there in 1994. it is a tiny country about the size of Wales in the heart of Africa. It was the genocide that shaped…

The fox in the box

One evening a fox was dying in my back garden. Its fur was patchy, its eyes were sad and watery, and it sniffed pitifully amongst the bushes. I have mixed feelings towards foxes. One part of me, the idealistic, romantic side, likes them. They are beautiful, shy creatures of sharp senses, swift and playful, with…

Going bald: the journey through pain and pleasure 

Once, when I had hair, I revelled in it joyously; I had a quiff that sat up proud like a duck’s bum, sometimes spawning a rebellious love-curl; my side-burns dropped to the bottom of my earlobes; my back and sides were ‘grade one tapered’; the rest, back-brushed in to a bouffant coiffure. I thought I…

The thrill of the motorbike taxis in the hilly heart of Africa

The fastest, most exhilarating way to get round Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, is on motorbike taxis, which go by the rather cute name of  ‘ipikipiki’. I like the way it sounds, like birdsong, it rolls off the tongue, is easy to spell, it’s just hard to stop spelling. If you want an adrenaline buzz,…

Getting to work, Rwanda style

Whoever first coined the term ‘the Dark Continent’ to describe Africa was either wearing very powerful sunglasses, or was nocturnal. The Rwandan sun is enthusiastic, its light is sharp and sunrise is rapid – the sun doesn’t drag itself up; it skyrockets in a steep trajectory and by the start of my commute at 7.30am…

A letter from the heart of Africa: settling in fine

 Dear friends, I made it, I’m here, in Kigali, Rwanda, writing to you from the hilly heart of a distant continent. I’ve been here a week now and I’m settling in fine. On the flight here, just as we passed Lake Victoria, the land suddenly rose to resemble a fairytale kingdom, a mountain fortress, rising…

My mum, the pilot

Once upon a time, a little girl was told that women shouldn’t fly airplanes … I grew up knowing ‘mum flew planes’. This was one of a series of simple facts in my childhood: my sister and I were born in London; our parents came from India; dad sang; mum flew. She told us stories…

The flight to Rwanda and getting rid of the contraband

After a short layover in Nairobi airport, the great African plains appeared below us, followed by Lake Victoria, its shoreline edged in pink flamingoes between jealous, grey clouds. (This is part of a series of posts called Letters from the Heart of Africa and a table of contents and background can be found here. This…

Peter and the soup confusion

Peter, my Rwandan housemate, is a man of many talents – he’s my gym training buddy, my security guard, a law student and a boxing champion for the Kigali Police First Team. I don’t really need a security guard, Kigali is the safest city I’ve ever lived in, but I enjoy his company especially at…