Africa with Clinton: Rwanda (Day 7)
Not much to report today. All the bad road finally caught up to me and I had some challenges with my back. The President’s doctor came see me (the President always travels with a doctor) and he advised me to skip the day’s activities. So I took the meds, spent some time in the steam room, and lay still for most of the day.
I was feeling well enough to join the group at President Paul Kigame’s home for cocktails and dinner. President Kigame is quite impressive, and he has done a masterful job of rebuilding the country after the horror of the 1990s genocide that killed 1 million people. The country is simply beautiful, the people are working hard at rebuilding their community and their nation.
During the horror of the genocide, many women were raped by soldiers and vigilantes who infected many women with HIV. Because of the devastation in the country following the massacres, the country had little resources to assist the burgeoning HIV+ population with healthcare and medication. As a result, the disease ravaged a whole generation of Rwandans.
Under Kigame’s leadership, this has all changed as his pragmatic and firm approach to governing has attracted ongoing interest and investment in his country. Folks with HIV are now able to get the medication that they need to live full and healthy lives.
For dinner, we sat out on the President’s lawn, which had been set with tables of 8. Many of the Rwandan cabinet were there and we got to talk with them directly.
The food was very good … I think we saw the last of the Indian influences in Zanzibar (at least until we get to South Africa). I picked up a couple of bottles of the native hot sauce, piri-piri, to bring home. Right on cue, just as we were finishing dinner, it began to rain and the staff whisked us inside. We sat in the President’s living room … until one of our number dropped a glass of red wine on the white marble floor. You could hear the sharp intake of breath from the Clinton staff who quickly left the room. The next thing we knew, the staff came back and announced that the first bus was ready to roll for those who were ready to leave. I can take a hint, so I got my butt on that bus.
Had to repack the suitcase yet again for an early morning luggage call — 7am. Thank God for suitcases that expand — and have wheels!