Five things I learnt from my stay in Rwanda


5 things I learnt from my 3 months stay in Rwanda. (Only the ones I am willing to share with you).


I have come to realize that life is but a constant play between meeting and separation. With people. With ourselves. And with situations and feelings. 

As I cried my eyes out at the separation from friends I met here and leaving the place I lived in for three months, I sat here to write down what I learnt from my stay in Rwanda. Because well I have learnt a lot. 

  • Calm is a way of life. A good one too. 

Addis is bustling. Everyone seems to be hurrying this way or the other. It is crowded and loud. All the things I loved about it. 

Rwanda is a stark contrast. No one is in a hurry or loud. Everyone just calmly strides about their way. Even the cultural dance is like swaying in a lake with a warm smile on your face. People speak in lower voices and slowly. 

It may seem like a bad thing at first. It even is hard to get used to. But through time, you realize there is a strange contentment in being calm. It is like marinating in the moment. It is just like what the tiny dragon said to the giant panda, ‘When you are having tea, have tea’. 

I always say I have a big hourglass in my brain that is constantly urging me to move faster, to learn faster, to love faster and to work faster. Just urgency. I had learnt to ignore the whistling of the sand over the years. But I feel like I lost that hourglass during my stay in Rwanda. I can wait much longer than I used to now. I have accepted the invitation to live in the moment… in now. And now, is timeless. 

  • Live in nature. Nature is the best teacher. 

Where I have lived are cockroaches (I once saw a roach of my hand size), spiders of different sizes and colors, frogs, bats, snakes, insects and many many beautiful birds. No, I didn’t live in the zoo. I lived in a hotel which was built without disrupting the nature around it. And we could peacefully coexist. 

Nature is a graceful being. It just is. It teaches us just to be. Look at crows. They are unafraid just being themselves everywhere. All the tiny bugs,  just roaming around. How everything is just harmonized. No one is too serious about their existence. 

It is not unusual in Rwanda to see buildings built around without cutting down trees and in large greenery. I learnt that green has multiple shades here through its different shades in many things. Green as the grass. Green as a frog. Green as a stink bug. Green as that tree. Green as this one. 

 I learnt to love the call of crows and the croak and ribbits of frogs. I learnt eagles take a bath in collected water and look so funny doing so. I can even tolerate Lizards now; in all their sizes and colors. 

It is much more beautiful when it rains. You can see the rain running towards you. And when it is done raining, it is as if everything has been washed thoroughly. 

And the sun. The sunrise. The morning sun. The late morning sun. The afternoon sun. The sunset. 

Da vinci says the human body is a tiny universe. And we see the working of our body in different workings of nature. Everything is but ourselves. And the more we pay attention and mimic nature in our works and lives, the better. 

  • Be disciplined. 

I love discipline. 

I remember this one time our teacher told us to just trust them and  do what we are told until we understand the significance. It baffled me. It is difficult for a questioning mind and a reasoning heart to just be disciplined and ‘follow the rules’.  Or so I thought. 

But no. 

Adam Reta said in Mereq that a country takes a hundred steps in discipline but only one in education. The Rwandese are a living example of disciplined citizens. 

They take rules and orders seriously. Rwanda has one of the lowest crime indexes in the continent thanks to the people. Where I am staying, we didn’t even lock our doors. No one takes others’ things.  

But what is more important is discipline to ourselves. 

I lived in an environment where discipline was integral for years. Catholic school. Medical school. And now here, where I  am supposed to follow a schedule and show up for the work I said I will do everyday. 

As I continue the journey I started here in Rwanda,entrepreneurship,  it is very necessary for me to be disciplined as well. We happen to be the driver of this thing we started. In all honestly we often are the drivers of the life we call our own but  it is just glaring now. 

Now, I also need to be disciplined for my health which I also learnt during my stay in Rwanda. 

It all comes down to what Aurelius said, ‘Be strict with yourself… and lenient to others’. I may need to learn how to be lenient to others though. 

  • A billion reasons to believe in Africa. 

I haven’t been anywhere other than Rwanda. But Rwanda is one of the billion reasons to believe in our continent.  It is the beacon of hope as I always say. It is an example of building yourself from your ashes like a phoenix. Re-writing a history the world remembers you with. 

The Rwandeses didn’t forget the genocide or the dark years that preceded and followed it. They recount and remember the lives lost every year in April. I had the honor of attending the 30th year memorial of the genocide. The air becomes heavy. You can feel the sadness even in the very beautiful hills. It haunts you. 

But they also know it doesn’t define them. They tell you yes that happened and now we are here and we are marching. 

I have also met Africans from other parts of the continent; telling me incredible stories of their countries. And they are not stories of adversities but richness. Of perseverance. Of beauty.  And I find my little heart getting so excited at the reality of being one with these majestic stories. And whether we like it or not our stories are but the same. 

It is so wonderful being an African. I have a new list of countries I want to visit now. 

  • Instead of resisting to changes, surrender. Let life be with you, not against you. If you think ‘My life will be upside down’ don’t worry. How do you know down is not better than upside?- Shams Tabrizi

This is the most important one. You have heard of let go. Let go of even the happy things, even the things that are serving you, even the things you are most fond of. 

And let come. Let things happen to you. Even the bad things. Even the things you are anxious about all the time. Even the failures. 

Let your hands be free all the time. 

And yeah… visit Rwanda. 

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