I feel as if I will have two entirely different experiences in my eight months. One is the perspective of a resident. I don’t acknowledge every white person on the street (just because we share skin color does not mean I will automatically like them…); I have a favorite food vendor, clothes tailor, and know where to go to “hide”; and I’ve learned how to blend- what not to say and wear that make me look like a starry eyed tourist. I have a routine; a standard rise time, a standard meal plan, a sense of normalcy.
And then I was asked to stay for two weeks to help as a film production assistant for a second documentary. The film crew are the starry-eyed tourists who try their hand at the token Kinyrwanda phrases and get photos of themselves while dancing with rural children.
Its been pretty great to experience both ends. I laugh frequently; at the absurdity of my experiences and at the Rwandans who are laughing at me. Great fun to be had by all.
Today, I was holding some lights for an interview, when the bus driver informed me that the mayor needed to see the film permit. So I run out the gate with the necessary paperwork, and decided to just stay with this cameraman on the street to make sure he didn’t run into any additional trouble. We walk down the street, about five yards, and pass a group of women and children. The women ask me if I would please take their photo. I politely inform them that I cannot (1. it is an expensive video camera I am carrying, not a photo camera and 2. after I take their picture, they will ask me for money that I get from showing said photo in the west. These smart Rwandans know that pics of “suffering Africans” make money.)
Anyway, I hear: Muzungu! Take my photo.
-Sorry mama, we just want the city.
She leaves me alone while Kasey captures the skyline. Then he turns the camera upwards for a shot of the sun behind the clouds.
-Muzungu! Why are you taking photos of the sky? My children are beautiful and standing here. (I made that last part up, she yelled it all in Kinyrwanda. I caught phrases and think that was the point, but…)
-Haha, I don’t know mama. You have to ask him.
-Well, muzungu, give me money.
-Sorry, I don’t have money. BUT see that muzungu up the hill? He has money.
-What is his name?
-I don’t know, go ask him.
And I sent the whole group up the road to the sound guy to ask for money. You’re welcome. 🙂