Slowly by Slowly

“Buhoro buhoro.” 
“Slowly by slowly.”

Everything  in Africa happens buhoro buhoro, it seems.

Our paperwork and medical interviews happened this way, and we said, “Buhoro buhoro” as we sat for hours waiting  our turns. 

Our language training is happening this way, and I say, “Buhoro buhoro” as I struggle to form basic sentences and remember simple vocabulary. 

My integration is happening this way, and I say, “Buhoro buhoro” as I question yet another mundane aspect of life or try to find a way to help without being in the way. 

I come from a culture in which everything happens fast. Commercials advertise devices to save us time, to allow us to multitask, to do a hundred things at once. We study time management and grumble about backed up traffic or late public transportation. 

I often joke that the things that enrage me most are exploitation of vulnerable people and slow walkers on the sidewalk. 

It’s not true, of course, but the fact that so many people identify with the sentiment shows the deep-rooted value we place on speed. 

And now I’ve jumped head-first into a culture in which nothing happens fast (except the bike taxis, which will run you down!), and I find myself often tapping my toes impatiently, grumbling about backed up paperwork or late scheduling. 

Once you get past your instinctive dislike of slowness, though, you begin to feel that there’s a comforting charm to this slow culture. 

Africa doesn’t rush you to know the answer. It doesn’t push you to walk a little faster, get a little more done, skip breakfast to get to work. 

It lets you sit a moment. It lets you step away from stirring beans over the charcoal-burning imbabura to play a little informal soccer with the children. 

Even the work feels restful. 
As my work gets harder—as language proficiency seems a lifetime away and the training sessions overwhelm me—I remind myself to rest. 

I tell myself, “Buhoro buhoro.”

Slowly by slowly I will learn this language. Slowly by slowly I will understand this culture. Slowly by slowly I will build relationships, and slowly by slowly I will accomplish the work set out for me. 

It’s  no good rushing it. This is Rwanda, and Rwanda, it seems, will not be rushed. 

So instead, I sit back. I watch the sky change colours above the banana fields, and I watch the people trudging along the red roads. 

Life here comes buhoro buhoro, and buhoro buhoro is the way I’ll take it.

 Apologies for the lack of photos! I’ve been struggling with my internet and I can’t get WordPress to upload any photos right now. So hey—follow me on Instagram for daily photos and new words in Kinyarwanda! 

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