In our final meeting, Kabera pulled out an invitation from a large folder. “It is for our 13th anniversary celebration. You will not be here, but I wish you could be. His Excellency will most be our guest of honor. It will be a very special day for AERG.”
Kabera has dedicated a tremendous amount of work to this event that will take place on August 13th at Amahoro Stadium in Remera. He will introduce President Kagame to 4,000 of AERG’s members and honored guests, and the ceremony will celebrate AERG’s numerous achievements over the past 13 years.
I tell him I am very sad that I will miss the ceremony.
“When you go home, will your friends and family recognize you?” Kabera asked.
“What do you mean?”
“You have gotten so fat since you have been here. I don’t know if they will recognize you.”
“Fat? Really?” Gosh, I knew the french fries were taking their toll, but was it really that bad? Maybe he was mixing up his words. Perhaps he meant tan?
“Yes, when you came you were very small,” he gestured towards my arm and formed a tiny circle with his thumb and forefinger. “Now you have grown very much large.” He used both hands to form a new circle. Then he pointed to my stomach.
Well, thanks for clearing that up Kabera. I pouted.
The waitress brought over our coffee and juice. “Murakoze,” I said.
“You are also Rwandan now,” he smiled. “You speak Kinyarwanda and you know our culture.” Hardly true, but a nice recovery.
“You must have a Rwandan name. From now on, you will be Kamaliza. Kamaliza is a very good name; it has two meanings. First, it means gold, gold that we found in the ocean. Second, I call you Kamaliza after the very famous soldier and singer, Kamaliza. She sang during the war and encouraged the soldiers to go on. Although she died, her music still inspires me. So, like as you inspire me, you are Kamaliza.”
Ok, that made up for the fat comment.
We finished our drinks and the time came to say our goodbyes.
“Say hi to Obama!” he said. “And you, say hi to Kagame on the 13th! Tell him Kamaliza says hello.”
Posted By Lisa Rogoff
Posted Aug 7th, 2009