Rwanda: Week 1

Susan Vincent.

Kigali, Rwanda. May 16th.

Muraho from Kigali!

One of the unique things about Rwanda is that each morning, I will likely be greeted with some combination of Muraho, Jambo, Bonjour, and Hello (followed immediately by “how are you?”). While Sarah are immediately recognized as outsiders as we walk to work, the attention and commotion that creates is quite subdued. Kigali is a city with a substantial number of expats and aid workers, and I increasingly suspect the vast majority of those who call this country their home would scarcely recognize the lifestyles of the newly urban Rwandans. Hopefully we will be able to travel within the country while we are here, as it would be a shame to visit such a beautiful country without venturing away from Kigali’s clamor and convenience.

For now, though, we are getting to know the city we will call home for the next 7+ weeks. I arrived on Monday afternoon, with less than 48 hours to settle in and prepare to begin work. I’ve had my bouts with jet lag before, so I was determined that this time I would not succumb to the temptations of long daytime naps which inevitably lead to long sleepless nights. While my plan wasn’t quite as successful as I had hoped, Sarah and I both managed to (mostly) switch to GMT +2 with only moderate levels of exhaustion.

After the bustle of travelling and settling in, Wednesday morning we made our way to the Supreme Court of Rwanda for our 8am meeting with Chief Justice Rugege. Our first assignments are more structural than substantive: Sarah is working on a comparison of the roles of supreme/highest courts, particularly in East Africa, while I am analyzing the best practices for courts regarding case management and administration. By the end of this assignment I will know how to run a court and Sarah will know how to structure a legal system…so if you ever need help setting up a country, give us a call. Which, as crazy as it sounds, is what we are helping to do here: as the Chief Justice reminded us, Rwanda is still being formed and reformed, and our work will hopefully contribute to that process.

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