With my Rwandan friends I visited a small village bar where people drink homemade banana beer made of banana juice and sorghum flour.
I asked the people there the most sensitive issue in the history of Rwanda, the genocide.
First I told them that they didn't have to answer when they felt so, but they openly talked about it.
Elder men said that even this peaceful remote village was exposed to the menace of the genocide.
They expressed that some of them still could not trust other people because of the trauma.
In contrast, the youth born after the genocide only knew current happy Rwanda, and they seemed indifferent to what had happened in Rwanda.
However, one of the youth said that it was very important to keep learning about it to prevent another mistake.
Today Rwanda started on the road to a new history as a country of a million smiles.
I thanked them for sharing their thoughts on the painful experience with me.
The banana beer had very rich flavor just like the time we spent together.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Musanze)
I met my friend's mother living in a remote village in the mountains.
Though she was a bit sick, she welcomed me to her place.
I told her how I had been living as a vagabond.
After listening to my story quietly, she gave me a piece of advice.
"No matter where you go, go with your love."
She told me that she had lost her husband some years ago.
Since then her friends had been taking care of her with love.
Now she felt okay because she understood that she was not alone.
"Go with your love."
Her word and beautiful smile are engraved in my heart.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Musanze)
One late afternoon, the deaf-school pupils took cover under the eaves of the school from soft rain.
I was standing with some boys.
There was no much sound except raindrops hitting the roof and the ground.
One boy quietly extended his arm under the rain.
Raindrops began to dance on his little palm.
Then he looked up the sky.
Pale light of the gray sky shined his eyes gently.
Watching the boy I tried to listen to the sound of rainfall which he must have been hearing.
Somebody started playing an African drum in the art classroom.
It sounded like the rhythm of the drum tuned up to the sound of soft rain falling on the roof and the ground.
Soon the warm sunlight came back from behind the clouds.
I thank to the peaceful rainfall dance silently.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Nyabihu)
I met a girl at a deaf boarding school in a Rwandan forest.
She never sat in a classroom calmly during her sign language lesson.
She was curious to see the differences of our skin and hair.
She liked me to carry her and walk around.
She loved looking up the sky through the gap of eaves.
She must have been hearing the sky.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Nyabihu)
One relaxing Saturday morning at a border town between Rwanda and Congo, I met a soon-to-marry couple at a local milk shop where people enjoy fresh sour milk.
After we exchanged our thoughts on life and world, the man said sadly.
"Today, people are divided all over the world. Politics, economy, religion, anything can be a trigger of our divide."
"So," he continued as he saw his fiancee.
"We will start rebuilding unity of people by ourselves by our marriage."
I wished them every happiness, and we toasted with our glasses of sour milk for the better world.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Rubavu)
When the rain started, I was on my way to a post office.
I had a small umbrella but the rain became too hard, I ran into a nearby shop.
There was a small kitchen inside, and a man was making samosa there.
“Can I have some samosas?”
Putting my umbrella on the floor and sitting at a table, I asked the man.
Gave me a smile and said him.
The shop had a balcony behind, rice fields and hills stretched as far as the eye could see.
I was gazing outside blankly when the man said my samosas were ready.
The freshly-made samosas filled my body and soul with satisfaction.
The rain had already stopped.
Paying the price, I asked the man his name.
“I’m Carrist,” he replied.
“Oh, sounds like Christ, doesn’t it?”
Hearing me said so, he laughed.
“Thanks for the good samosas,” I said and left the shop.
Soon after I remembered that I forgot my umbrella.
When Carrist saw me coming back, he said “You forgot your parents’ love?”
I didn’t understand what he meant.
“When the rain stopped, you forgot your umbrella which protected you from the rain.”
“It’s like when you became independent you forgot what your parents had done for you when you were young.”
Smiled and said him.
“Ah, you’re right.”
So responded, I neatly furled my umbrella and went out of the shop.
While walking to a post office I wondered if I would ever remember my parents when I had left my umbrella somewhere next time.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Kigali)
"This is the first flight experience in my life," she said.
The 18 year-old Tanzanian girl was impressed by what she saw through the window.
"I'm going to study in South Africa for two years. I feel nervous," she smiled bitterly.
"I don't know anything about outside of my home."
After a bit of silence, I said to her.
"You know, I've been constantly changing my place to live for 17 years. And I still feel very nervous when I go to unknown places. Just imagine a 45-year old man tries to forget his nervousness by eating candy on his way."
She smiled again, but purely this time.
"Accept your being nervous, that's how we prepare for what we are going to try something new and exciting."
"To live in a new place of different culture is difficult. But it's an interesting way to reinvent yourself."
She quietly thought about something, then looked outside the window again.
The airplane began to descend towards Johannesburg slowly.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Johannesburg)
I saw three little children coming toward me in a narrow street on my way home from a grocery store.
Since my phone was stolen on the road recently, I had been trying not to be too friendly with strangers who were too friendly with me.
But when the children just opened their arms and ran into me for giving me a hug, it's a different story.
They were so small, they only hugged my legs.
Before they were gone, one of them said "I like your trousers, can you give them to me?"
I smiled and said "When we meet next time!"
It was my last day in Botswana.
I believe that it was a celebration on my departure by three angels.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Gaborone)
Aunt Christina, 84 years old, has been serving food to vulnerable children since 2002.
She opened her soup kitchen to help eight orphans in the beginning, now she has 200 children who eat at her place daily.
From Monday to Friday, to prepare enough food for 200 children of good appetite Aunt Christina starts cooking at 5 o’clock in the morning.
“Children in Africa have many problems like drugs, alcohol, and crimes because of poverty,” she said.
“I believe in that children do not commit such things when they eat enough.”
She has no financial support for her soup kitchen, she covers all the expenses on her own.
“Sometimes I have no money to buy gas for cooking,” she honestly spoke.
“We do not have enough support for vulnerable children in Namibia. Many children cannot buy shoes nor clothing. Some of them have nothing to eat all day long.”
One of the biggest problems of the Namibian children today is HIV infection.
To make pills work effectively, HIV-positive children need to eat something when they take the pills.
This is also the reason why Aunt Christina continues her soup kitchen.
“God tells me that I must help those children,” she said firmly.
I asked her what she would like to say when she met God someday.
After a little while she replied.
“It was very difficult, but I did not give up. I kept fighting for children till the end. I let none of them go home hungry.”
Her happiness is when she sees children eating well and studying hard.
“I always pray to God that children can study for their better future,” she told me earnestly.
Nowadays she has knee pain, but she is in good health generally.
I truly admire her for her persistent care and support for children more than 15 years.
At last, out of mere curiosity I asked her how many family members she had got.
“200,” she immediately answered, and smiled gently.
“They are all my children.”
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Katutura)
Long ago, there were two kinds of people living in the world.
One was the human people and the other was the animal people.
All the people were living in harmony until the human people found that the god gave fire to the ostrich.
The ostrich kept the fire under its wing, and one day the human people tricked the ostrich and stole the fire from it.
The human people learned to use the fire for hunting the animal people, and dominated the world of wildlife.
The animal people complained to the god that they became vulnerable to the human people.
The god promised to help them, then gave each one of the animal people a special power to survive.
Dassie, a small elephant-relative did not join the animal people's complaint because it was very lazy.
While the other animal people received god-given ability to run from, or to fight against the human people, Dassie remained small and slow, so the human people always picked Dassie to hunt.
Now Dassie regretted, and begged the god for a help.
The god told Dassie not to be lazy from now on, and gave it a special skill to escape from the human people.
This is how Dassie became able to climb up a vertical rock wall.
Dassie became a hardworking animal since then, too.
(inspired by a tale of San people, photo & story by Tengyo, Otjiwarongo)