The boats that crosses Lake Kivu between Bukavu and Goma also calls (on demand) at Bugarula, a port in the northern part of the Island of Idjwi. We’ve visited several times before. The bay is pretty and the quay has always been quiet except for women selling fruit and boys selling fish from their dug out canoes. This morning was very different.
We stepped up from the boat to the quay where maybe thirty or forty women, all in bright dress, were dancing and singing to the sound of drums played by a group of young lads.
We recognised Mama Katambara who was leading the group. She stood by a large plaque that told us they were FSDF, or Femmes pour la Development et le Secours Familial.
The group were dancing for V Day and contributing their part to the 1 billion rising campaign. They knew that we were on the boat and they wanted to show solidarity with Kelley and her dance group back home. They wanted Kelley to dance with them for V Day.
By good fortune we had bought a V Day t-shirt for Mama Katambara and presented it to her as a thank you. It all worked out pretty well.
Later in the morning we again met up with an even bigger group of FSDF dancers to hear about their association. They are women who have lost their husbands smuggling coffee to Rwanda or women who have been abused and ostracised by their families. The association was set up to provide mutual support and stand up for women’s rights and for the rights of their children.
Towards the end of the meeting Mama Katambara said they had made two drawings, one showing two of the husbands who died on the lake and the other showing a neighbour bringing the devastating news to a widowed family.
It was a little overwhelming to be honest.