It’s easy to be famous here. I would like to credit my emergence as a regular on various Rwandan radio stations to my electric personality and crafty use of the media to serve my every need but tht would be truly misleading. Journalists just seem to appear every time I’m running something – be it a competition, summer school or a training. And so I give interviews – none of which I have actually heard myself, since they are normally broadcast on the Kinyarwanda stations. Instead people tell me later that they heard me babble enthusiastically about young people and energy and motivation and health on this or that station. I even had the big boss VSO Rwanda Country Director congratulate me for a good 5 minute interview he heard on Radio Rwanda a few weeks back (they obviously couldn’t be bothered with editing any of it...unless I have forgotten that I really was bestowing pure nuggets of golden information upon the nation!).
I’ve even become pretty good at giving nice little catchphrases; “Why have a music competition to spread messages about HIV? Well everyone knows all of Beyonce’s lyrics – these kids too now know their lyrics through and through!”. “Do I think the kids are capable of spreading the message? They have proven today that they are great ambassadors for their schools, and so now they are equally great HIV prevention embassadors in their schools and communities too!”, “The energy in that room is just astounding, enough to knock you out – be careful on entering!”.
The other day Richard, one of my colleagues called me into his office and switched on a 3 minute radio clip he has saved on his computer which has been aired several times a day for the last couple of weeks. It was of course all in Kinyarwanda, but I could get that they were talking about the summer school that is currently going on in my town, with the dates, the people invited and the location...and then I heard the name of my town. It was immediately referred to as “Kuwa Maggie” – “Maggie’s place”. Now that made me feel special!
However, this doesn’t even come close to the fame of one or two VSOs living in the capital city who can count amongst their closest Rwandan friends various DJs, members of the national basketball team, journalists and actors. Two of my friends have recently recorded the new jingle for one of the biggest radio stations in the capital. So their voices will now be aired 50 times a day every day for the next how many months!?!
And on the high table whilst singing the national anthem. No, I don't know the words...but the army guy obviously does. The Mayor is right in the middle.