Unlike in other parts of the world, the terms of the foreign development contracts keep the majority of the profits in Rwanda, while requiring a high reliance on local labor. These are concessions American and European companies were not willing to make, and so China is really getting a strong foothold. So far, the relationship appears to be going well, as I am greeted very warmly by everyone. No one really gets that I’m an American.
Still, there are far fewer Asian people than traditional muzungu here on the streets. While I am interesting enough to gawk at, I am apparently still not as captivating as people of European descent. A white colleague told the story of being packed next to a woman and her friend on one of the crowded, public minibuses. The woman rather boldly stroked my colleague’s hand a few times before telling her friend, “I wanted to touch one before I died.” “What does it feel like?” the friend asked. “Like a ripe banana,” the woman said.