Saturday was a late start. We'd been working so hard at the center for the past few weeks that we all slept in until 11:00 or so. We had no plans that day, and were very excited for it. Shortly after I woke up, Willy called and asked if we wanted to go to the Salax Awards. He told us it was the Rwandan music awards, and that was about it. Elizabeth and I thought it might be a cool event and we had just enough energy left in us to be able to go.
We met Willy in Remera at 5:30 to walk up to the event. At this point, I still didn't really have any idea of what we were going to. On the walk over, he told us all of the biggest superstars would be there to perform and dance. Suddenly I was even more excited for the event. The tickets were about $3.33 each, sold right at the gate as you enter. The event was sponsored by MTN, a popular cell phone company. They handed out free minutes and bandanas to everyone who entered.
We waited in the stadium for about an hour before the show started. It was a very simplified version the Grammy Awards. There was a large television screen above the stage where they had a live camera set up on "the red carpet" leading into the stadium. The camera followed all of the stars from their cars to the venue, where they would enter less than a minute later for everyone to see with their own eyes. Some of the stars had very interesting attire that reminded me of Lady Gaga's statements at big events. One singing group wore kilts, and another dressed as if they were in a wedding with the woman in a wedding dress and veil and the men in white suits and red ties. Young Grace, a popular rapper, had two young girls accompany her, all wearing pink and white suits with matching hats. They won a new couch and the equivalent of $500 for best dressed.
|Young Grace and her sidekicks.|
|King James wins four awards including Best Artist of the Year|
Here's another fun fact about the venue and it's organization: There was no crowd limit for the bleachers, where we were sitting. By the time the show started, and even before then, the stairs on both ends were filled with people trying to push and shove their way through. There were two policemen holding back the crowd. Throughout the show, the people would sneak their way through to try and get a seat, only to find out that there really was not an inch of extra room to sit. We were hip bone to hip bone, and sometimes had even less room.
It took a long time for all of the artists to enter, so towards the end, the crowd began chanting a song which Willy translated for us "We're tired, let's go." Not too long after, the first performance was by a girl Willy knew who went to a secondary school very close to the center. He said people called her Celine Dion because she had such a nice voice. She sang "I Willy Always Love You" note for note in memory of Whitney Houston. It was beautiful, and everyone loved it. That performance was one of maybe 4 live performances.
Other performances were simply the singer going up and singing along with their recorded song. I couldn't believe it at first, and then it just became funny.
One of my favorite performances was the group who won Best Traditional Group. They had so many beautiful dancers who were all perfectly in sync. During this performance, I stood up to get a better view. When their performance was over, everyone went to sit back down. I turned around and there was absolutely no spot for me to sit. Willy and Elizabeth had found a seat, but there was absolutely no place for me. There was a kind older man sitting next to Willy, and he was yelling at the guy who took my place to move. Soon everyone around this other guy were pulling at him to get him out of my seat. Once they got him out, everyone wanted to give me a high five. That's what we get for not having real assigned seats and selling too many tickets!
So, to say the least, the event exceeded my expectations. If you have more questions, please ask them.
On Sunday, we had plans to go to a football game. It was a Rayon Sport game, Willy's favorite team. After a quick visit with Josephine at the market, we walked to the stadium to see the game. Elena and I wore blue to show our team spirit. Soon after we got through the security, a man approached us asking if we knew about Rayon Sport. (This is where being in the right place at the right time comes in). We told him of course, that's why we were wearing blue and white! After a brief conversation, he spoke to Willy in Kinyarwanda, and soon we were following this guy dressed in a long blue robe to the stadium doors. Willy quietly told us we were getting better seats.
This guy, Claude, turned out to be the President of the Rayon Sport fan club. He invited us to join him in the VIP section of the stadium. We sat only a few seats away from the coach of the Rwandan National Team football coach, and a few rows behind us was a player for the Women's National Team. I sat in amazement as the game began. Willy wanted me to guess the score of the game since I predicted the score of the last game to be 3-2, with Rayon Sport as the champion and I was right. I bet Willy that Rayon Sport would win 2-0 in the end of this game. At half time, Claude invited us in for drinks. We followed him to this special room where everyone important goes during half time. We shared Fanta with everyone, and Claude told everyone that I played football in the states. Everyone was very curious about that fact. They said if I ever come back to Rwanda, maybe I can be sponsored to play for the Women's Rayon Sport team since they're not very good right now.
|Rwandan National Team coach|
During the second half, Claude brought me over to the rowdy section 17 so I could take some video's of them. I wrote about this section in the blog I posted after my first day. Claude told them to sing one of their chants, and I got some pretty cool footage.
Rayon Sport, as I predicted, won 2-0. I caught both goals on camera!
|Rayon sport has the home jersey's: White with blue stripes.|
After the game, Claude brought us to a local bar and restaurant for more drinks and some food. He told us he would give us all Rayon Sport t-shirts, and also invited us to go with him to the next game. He's also the manager of a hotel in Remera, and told us we were welcome to swim at the hotel any time we wanted. We thanked him so much for everything, and went on our way.
Talk about an eventful weekend!