10 never-forgets from Africa (Part 2)

by Bistra Kumbaroska on 5th July, 2013 at 11:24 AM CEST

The story of C:F visiting Africa continues in another 5 never-forgets. You can find Part 1 of the same story here.

6. Avoid using plastic bags and take Rwanda as a positive example!

I never imagined that a small country like Rwanda could be the best eco-friendly role-model for the rest of the world. Well, it is! Rwanda suffered from an all-too-familiar problem in Africa: billions of plastic bags choking waterways and destroying entire ecosystems. To fight this scourge of the environment, the government launched a radical policy to ban all non-biodegradable plastic from the country. Right after we arrived at the airport, we were asked by the border authorities to throw away any plastic bags we had, explaining that in Rwanda only paper bags are allowed to be used. I was shocked, but I didn’t miss the plastic bags at any point. I was just embarrassed to tell how many plastic bags I used in my big suitcase, to pack my clothes, shoes and cosmetics.

7. You can never be safe nor happy if you have food to eat but your neighbour doesn’t. Share it!

If our busy days pass by with no “hi” or “bye” (except in the office), the people in Uganda and Rwanda have time to talk and spend more time together. They walk a lot, they have no fixed bus/train schedules and they are not in a constant hurry. They live life with a smooth, natural pulse and a rhythm totally different than ours. Consequently, the shared values and visions are much stronger. People have time to socialize (and i don’t mean using facebook by this) and live in big families. Extended families are also very common. An African proverb says “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you wish to go far, go together.” Very much like Challenge:Future’s motto: Together, we are more!


8. “Rain is a sign of fruitfulness, growth and progress.” - Simon Byamukama, LUSU, Uganda

While most of my facebook friends post sad faces when they see rain outside, my African friends consider rain as a precious gift from God. During our visit, Uganda and Rwanda had their rainy season, however, we experienced heavy rain only once, and it was special. Upon our arrival and warm welcome at Itambira Island in Lake Bunyonyi ("Place of many little birds"), the clouds somehow prepared us for a heavy rain. The weather was warm, just like the people at the island, we were enjoying a cup of African tea (made with hot milk and not hot water) and the rain started to pour. The people around us were grateful that our presence is blessed with such a beautiful rain, because the rain clearly showed that we came to Africa with open hearts and for more progressive and fruitful future. We should all try to understand rain in that way, too.

9. Entrepreneurship is a way of life, and young African people showed a great example!

Apart from Maziba Pineapple Wine, Nyabitabo Youth Group and Uwimana’s internet cafee mentioned in my previous article, Youth in Leadership and Development Initiative (YILDI) Uganda was another example of perfectly professional business model created and maintained solely by young people. They produced Green leaf tea, flavoured it with lemon grass and delivered it to various stores and individual subscribers in Kabale region. Additionally, they also developed a production line for liquid soup, producing a healthy hygienic soap for hotels and restaurants in the area. Again, manual production, individual delivery and plans to grow big! Simply WOW!

10. Boda Boda (Motorcycle Taxi or as I call it “extreme sports”)

If you are a fan of motorcycles, extreme sports or simply new experiences - Uganda and Rwanda is definitely  your thing! As soon as you arrive at the bus stop, train station, airport or university campuses, you find motorbike taxis all around you. This kind of taxis are common for many countries, however, in some regions of Rwanda and Uganda, the streets and roads are very steep, muddy (during rainy season) and made of strong volcanic stones, that appear like sparrows from the ground. Dan, Dominique and I had a wild drive one night, carrying all our suitcases from the bus stop to Patrick’s place. I have never encountered so skillful drivers, but I must admit, I was scared stiff. As soon as we reached our destination, I hugged my driver. He was very confused but for me, he was the only God I could recognize at that moment. But I learned the meaning of one message I heard years ago: Reach beyond your fears and you will find freedom.

How to stop at 10, without mentioning the evening talks with Alice, the taste of cooked grasshoppers, the lessons learned from Patrick, the wisdom shared by prof. Barnabas, the hospitality and warmth of Simon and Dominique, the smiles of the mothers carrying 5 kids + several kilos of bananas on their heads, the traffic, the light, the night sky over our heads when a road slided down in the middle of nowhere, the strength and passion of youth, and thousands of other details that made this experience unforgettable.

Africa is a miraculous place. I have never felt, anywhere in the world, closer to Nature, humanity and myself. They say, if you visit Africa once, you will always wish to go back. Hopefully, soon, with new projects and new empowerment possibilities.

Thank you, Africa!

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Pejo Alice

Pejo Alice

Well articulated insights, am glad you had something to write home about Africa. We love you and yes, We learned a lot from you too. Cheers C:F!

6th July, 2013 @ 9:32 AM CEST

Daniel Kimondiu

Daniel Kimondiu

You were able to reach where the mainstream media never dare to go. Thank you for the insights about what youths in Africa are doing. Next we welcome you in Kenya.

8th July, 2013 @ 2:29 PM CEST

Bistra Kumbaroska

Bistra Kumbaroska

Coming from a person like you, Alice, this compliment and comment means a lot. Thank you so much! The exchange of experiences, ideas and knowledge during our events and times spent was tremendous. Every bit and piece of this inspiration and love for Africa has been born thanks to you and all the people I've met. We are hooked for life! :)

Daniel, I am sure the youth in Kenya has a lot to contribute to challenge:future global youth movement and one day, who knows... we meet in Kenya, maybe! :)

9th July, 2013 @ 6:50 AM CEST

Kayode Nubi

Kayode Nubi | Action team | CF Chapters

This is simply amazing. Great journal and happy you experienced all of this in Africa. :)

9th July, 2013 @ 10:06 PM CEST

pacifique ndayishimiye

pacifique ndayishimiye

Bistra! Always when i ready your stories,tears come down. you are really amazing,it is the first time to hear someone who talk on the best of Africa as such you did.I really need to meet you once and i hope that i will realize my dreams during 2013 summit.

12th July, 2013 @ 12:18 PM CEST

Muhammad Ali Ali

Muhammad Ali Ali

Dear Bistra Kumbaroska !

This is simply amazing.very well done and keep it up.............

20th July, 2013 @ 9:44 AM CEST

Aisu Godwin Isaac

Aisu Godwin Isaac

Ur welcome, we the African people will always be Good in Nature coz we have large hearts that are also accommodative

3rd September, 2013 @ 11:15 AM CEST

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