Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rwandan Diary: Day 5

This was our final full day in Rwanda. It started with David Cameron addressing the Rwandan Parliament. Apparently ITV News said that there was hardly anyone there. Not true. I counted around 40 MPs, including the heads of all the leading committees, and there were a lot of press and NGO representatives present too. The speech didn't get off to a good start when all the lights went out for twenty seconds. Cameron made a good joke about it and moved on. It was a strong speech, launching the Globalisation Commission Report.

Next stop was the Presidential compound where David Cameron spent an hour with President Kagame, who has led Rwanda since the 1994 genocide. Apparently they agreed that Kagame would address the Tory Party Conference in October. So with Governor Schwarzenegger there too, Blackpool will resonate to the Arnie & Kagame roadshow.

This afternoon it was back to the Girubunto orphanage project which we visited on Day One. They've certainly made a lot of progress on building a new classroom and renovating the rest of the buildings. Andrew Mitchell is shown helping build a climbing frame, while Vicky Ford (below) shows off the classroom she has renovated. David Cameron was shown round and then did a round of media interviews including one for our film on the trip for 18 Doughty Street. We have nine hours of footage so far, so it's going to be quite a task to edit it down.

In the late afternoon Alice, my trusty camerawoman, and I hired a taxi to go out to a couple of villages to see what life is like outside the capital. At the first one I'm not sure that everyone was pleased to see us so we made a bit of a hasty getaway, but at the second one we were mobbed by both children and adults. Our taxi driver spoke excellent English. Both his parents were killed in the genocide and he is the head of the family, supporting his two younger sisters. He exists on $300 a month. He can't afford to buy a car (a Toyota Corolla costs $80,000 here!) so he rents one every day. But by comparison, he's well off. He said he was totally committed to rebuilding his country and was proud that everyone was pulling together.

One thing you notice here is that there is a total absence of litter in the streets. The government has banned plastic bags and on the fourth Saturday in the month everyone turns out to clear up their local neighbourhoods.

After returning to Kigali we found a local crafts centre, where I spent rather a lot of money on what I can only describe as shirts that Nelson Mandela would be proud to wear. I thought they'd go well with my Duchamp ties!

In the evening we all went out for a Chinese. Bearing in mind that most of us have got some sort of stomach upset (or worse) I wasn't sure that was a very good idea - especially as I don't like Chinese! The bill for eight of us came to $54. We tend to tip rather heavily here. Later on we met David Mundell MP and some of the volunteers at the Republika nightclub

I had to get back to the hotel for midnight to do a Radio 5 Live interview on Gordon Brown's first month. It seems very strange to do interviews from Rwanda, but I think it went OK. I'll leave the last word on this blogpost to the Guardian's Will Woodward...

Mr Cameron's 32 hours in Rwanda may have looked bad at home; here, however,
it has felt more positive.

Too right it has.


Unknown said...

Even Rwanda asks Cameron: Why aren't you back home?
DAVID Cameron's trip to Africa was plagued by further embarrassment yesterday when just 16 out of 80 Rwandan MPs turned up to hear him speak.

chatterbox said...

Mr Cameron's 32 hours in Rwanda may have looked bad at home; here, however,
it has felt more positive.

chatterbox said...

Got cut off midpost.
"Mr Cameron's 32 hours in Rwanda may have looked bad at home; here, however,
it has felt more positive."

Iain, you might come back with a better perspective of what Cameron is up against with some of the media. We have never had a great press, but I have been pretty shocked and sadden by some of the vicious and downright unbalanced crap that has been posing as supposed political journalism in this country.
This has been a bad week for Cameron, but reading some of the articles which have been so blatantly based on agenda politics rather than fact has been very frustrating.

HM Stanley said...


Do you mean Rwandan, and not Ugandan parliament?

Anonymous said...

Hi Iain

Your Guardian blog went well Monday
No one missed Dreary Dave he could stay there really.

Alan Douglas said...

Iain, thanks for the warning re shirts - I will retune my monitor to b/w !

This has been a fascinating diary, well done.

Re one comment I have heard here several times, that DC should have been in Witney for the floods, if he had pulled out of Ruanda, he would have been accused of not caring for the rest of the world, of being a stunt-puller for staying at home.

We need to elect a new press, not a new people.

Alan Douglas

The Military Wing Of The BBC said...

Chamberlain fails barmaid recognition test.

Last night at my local the front page of the Daily Mail had a photo. The 18 year old barmaid had absolutely no idea who he was.

So the Tory party has jumped the rainbow only to find, as in Ealing, their reaching out to people who have no intention whatsoever of taking an interest in voting Tory.


strapworld said...


How many votes do the Rwandans have in the general election?

Londonerr said...

I just want to say well done on your trip and coverage from the heart of Africa.

It's easy to be cynical and it is a luxury we often wallow in in our comforatble lives, but more difficult to explore new experiences as you and your team are doing. Bravo!

Manfarang said...

"We went out for a Chinese"
How was the shark fin soup?

Duncan Borrowman said...

Why has Grant Shapps written his new password on the wall in that photo?