I’m one out of four people jammed in the backseat of a car. It’s hot. My left leg sticking to the policeman’s’ next to me. He’s holding a loaded AK-47 in his left hand.
It’s in the middle of the night. Somewhere in the remote jungle between Vugizo and Makamba, Burundi. Pitch black outside. Our cars’ headlight cutting through the darkness like a knife. Gilbert is driving like an absolute maniac. Way too fast in my opinion. Not according to him. I keep forgetting that another day at the office for him is driving military vehicles in war zones.
At one point he looses control of the car. It forces him to hit the breaks as hard as he can. Everybody freeze up. The previous good vibes in the car disappear in a blink of an eye. Panic takes over.
The wheels stop thirty centimeters in front of a mountain wall, which runs along the muddy jungle road. Three seconds of silence transpire. Then we all break out in relieved neurotic laughter. And the journey continues.
Aime, who’s sitting in the front seat, has been talking loudly for a while in Kirundi about something I don’t understand. Apart from me, the rest of the passengers are dying with laughter.
”What did you just tell them?” I asked.
”I told them a story about my dad” he replied.
”The story about him being the first Burundian who had sex with a muzungo” Aime answered, still laughing out loud with the others.
I started laughing too. ”Tell me the story!”
Back in the sixties there weren’t many white people in Burundi. (I can assure you that it still isn’t. I encountered more Westerners in Kigali, Rwanda during my first evening there, than I did during my three weeks in Burundi). Back then, the only white people present were missionaries from the US or Europe. In one way or another, Aime’s father managed to allure one of these beautiful pale colored missionaries into bed one night.
Because this was an extremely rare occurrence and he, feeling somewhat proud of his conquering, started to brag about it to some of his friends. These friends couldn’t keep their mouth shut, so later they told more people. After a few days the whole community knew about Aimes’ father’s secret interracial affair.
He famously became known as the first Burundian who shagged a muzungo. No one had ever heard about something so bizarre before.
Eventually, his story had gotten so much attention that the authorities decided to make a case out of it. They felt the need to intervene. (Let me remind you that, back in those days it was completely unimaginable for a Burundian to shag a white woman. Whites and blacks were not allowed to sit on the same side in church. Couldn’t ride the same bus. Lived segregated. Not only was this woman white, but also, she was a deeply religious Christian missioner! In the eyes of the authorities, his act seemed therefore impossible without violence,
It didn’t take long before Aime’s father had two police officers knocking on his front door. They accused him of raping the muzungo woman.
Aime’s father laughed and answered in Swahili ”No no no! I just wanted to taste some muzungo pussy!?”
He was never found guilty of a crime.
He simply had so much swag he crushed all existing social barriers.
Later in life, he married a Hutu woman although he was a Tutsi man.
A courageous man.
Rest in peace you swagger.