Ihangane means “be patient” and this is what we are told on a daily basis. Every day here is an opportunity for testing just how patient you really are.
You want the teacher to explain a grammar rule? Maybe later- be patient.
You want to start a meeting on time? It will start when everyone gets here an hour late- be patient.
You found a taxi or bus and are ready to leave for Kigali? It will leave whenever it is completely crammed full of people- be patient.
You want to cook a meal because you are hungry? A basic meal takes a couple of hours (at least) when you cook over a fire- be patient.
You want to wear clean clothes? Your laundry fell off the line when it was drying and is now covered in mud- be patient.
You need to leave the house to get to class on time? Your shoes are dirty and they must be cleaned first- be patient.
You don’t want twelve spoonfuls of sugar in your tea? Too late, your brother already added it- be patient.
Living in Rwanda has done wonders to increase my level of patience in just about any situation. Right now I am not in control of many aspects of my life. I am told where to be and when, what to eat and how much, and my attempts to do my own laundry always end with my host brother taking over because I don’t use the correct Rwandan method. Since there are so many things I cannot control I have learned to be more patient and to have faith that eventually everything will work out. Last night I helped my mother cook dinner, and as it turns out cutting and peeling vegetables with a blunt knife, with no light, is a rather tricky endeavor. My mother was very patient, although most of the time she ended up finishing whatever tasks I started.
It has been pouring rain here lately (not too surprising since it is still rainy season) so, much to the despair of my brother Gasana, my shoes and feet are constantly muddy. He usually shows up at my door before I leave in the morning demanding to have my shoes so that he can wash them for me. Now this doesn’t make very much sense to me because I am only going to get them dirty again (and it is annoying to wear wet shoes all the time). But 6 weeks of this behavior has worn me down and I have started to leave my shoes outside for him to wash, even when I know that they will be dirty again the very same day.
Patience is a virtue and when you see me again in December 2013 I will be the most virtuous person you know! 🙂