Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cultural Notes #5

1. When ordering a drink at a restaurant you are always asked if you want the drink warm or cold. Yes, people do order warm water and fanta.
2. Rwandans try to give you the answer that they think you want. Not giving an answer is disrespectful. So… suppose you want to get to a specific place. Oh, let’s say… the post office that just randomly moved from the building it used to be in and left no notice (I wish I was making this up). You ask a person on the street where the post office is… they think. “It’s down that road”, she says. You walk, and find nothing. So, naturally you ask another person, who just points you back down the same path. This will continue until you find a person who actually knows. However, most Rwandans don’t navigate the way we do. They may even work at the post office but won’t be able to tell you if it’s on the left or the right. They think of places in terms of the surrounding area or history. For instance, its past Mujyambere’s house, behind the place where there used to be soccer field.
(Lesson: be patient)
3. Babies are named on the eighth day after they are born. Names always have special meanings that are known. For instance, the name Mukobwajana means you must give a dowry of 100 cows to marry her. Or Gahungu, little boy. Or Ngendakumana, “I go to god”. Sometimes children are named for events happening around the time of the birth, which may or may not be good. However, children now have the right to change their name if it causes problems. It comes in handy when your name means small bad girl (True story, she had her name changed after she personally confronted the mayor. She is only 9 years old.). My friend’s name is Matata. In Swahili this means many problems/worries. I’m afraid to ask why. However, Christians get Christian names eventually. But people don’t have middle names.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Brandon for keeping us so well informed of your progress and your crazy adventures. I love the way your mind thinks as well as your heart.

    Amahoro, and return soon.