Followers of the blog will know of our friend, translator and minder, Steven. We first met him shortly after arriving in Rwanda almost ten years ago. Steven's parents both died when he was young, His brothers were killed in the fighting of 1994. He had been looked after by his grandmother but she had also died by this time. He had no other family.
When we first met Steven he had little in life. He told us of how, after coming to Rwanda from Uganda, he had survived by selling peanuts on the street. Each day he would make enough money to buy the charcoal to prepare the next day's peanuts and cook himself a meal of cassava. This might sound exotic but has the appearance of wallpaper paste and is not much more nutritious.
We were pleased to be able to help Steven and did what we could for him. In return he taught us about Rwanda, translated for us and acted as our guide. Our project work back then was much helped by his advice and warnings.
Steven has courage and determination. He was able to find a place at university in Kigali and earned himself a degree. He has started several small businesses and gradually built his life to the point where he has a crop of bananas in a field along with some livestock.
Now Steven has decided to get married. He and his wife, Diana, tied the knot in a civil ceremony a couple of year's ago and have now gone through the traditional Rwandan wedding. This is an all-day affair in which Steven honoured us as his parents. An early morning start took us 30 miles to the town of Rwamagana where Steven has been living. There were singers and two marquees under which each family sat facing each other. The families exchange speeches and gifts before rings are exchanged and lunch is served to all the guests.
Then a drive back to Kabuga on the outskirts of Kigali for a church service before heading on to the reception at 6pm. More speeches are made and gifts given, this time by friends and family to the happy couple. By mid-evening, a smaller entourage moves on to Steven and Diana's house where there is more food and yet more speeches. By 10pm some people are beginning to flag and after the last speech has been given, everyone heads home.
We wish Steven and Diana every happiness in their new life together.