More banana beer and a protest

Jun 25 2015

Today is an exploration day. We are looking for opportunities to expand our Rutonde porridge project and have headed out of Rwamagana into the hills. The air is cool as we walk into town to find moto taxis but it soon heats up as the thin clouds evaporate.

Above the town, the hillsides are lush with bananas, sorghum, sunflowers and other crops. In the valley bottoms rice is grown. Old coats hanging on sticks serve as scarecrows.

In amongst the banana trees we come across one enterprising family. Mother is roasting sorghum seeds over a fire while her son is trampling up and down in a wooden canoe. Given the heat, there must be worse ways of spending the morning. Inside the canoe is a liquid mush mixed with grass. These are bananas having the juice extracted. The grass acts as a filter for the banana fibre. Water is then added to the juice along with the roasted sorghum seeds and the liquid set aside to ferment. I can testify from previous experience that the final product resembles fizzy mud.

Our survey of the area tells us what we need to know and we head back into town. There are no taxis up here in the hills, so getting back to town means an hour's walk in the blistering heat. Even the locals are complaining about how warm it is,

Back in Rwamagana we are met by a mass protest and I am advised that a photograph would not be wise. Yesterday we read the headlines on the world news that the Rwandan head of intelligence had been arrested in London. As we walk up the main street it seems that every bicycle in town is coming towards us with chants and whistles. Behind the bicycles come the marchers carrying placards with slogans such as "Release our General, we are fed up with demeaning Africans." Following up the rear are what appears to be every school child for miles around, marching in their classes and looking very happy to have been let off double geography. They too carry placards, each one suspiciously written in the same hand.

The local police are out in force and armed, keeping an eye on proceedings.

An exciting day. The outing has given us the information we need to plan the growth of our projects. It has also been educational. Besides rural economics, I have learnt about beer manufacture and Rwandan politics. Everything considered, I may well have taken in more today than some schoolchildren in the town.