The Challenges of African Dancing

When I travelled to India it was the imbalance between men and women challenged me.

When I lived in Sweden it was the conservative nature of the people that challenged me.

This is what I love about travelling. I love my perception of ‘normal’ to be challenged, to have my boundaries pushed and continue to grow.

I’ve been wondering what challenges me the most about African countries… I think I’ve decided that in Africa, it is the dancing.


We’re returning to the East.

The cheapest flight from Zambia to Rwanda has us arriving at 6.00 am. It is only Zimbabawia and I now, Mumma Africa has left to rejoin her man, Mount Kilimanjaro – the hunka spunk.

As the plane touches down I’ve slept approximately 2 hours (not ideal for a sleep loving human like myself). Shuffling out of the Kigali terminal, we are smacked with the balmy Rwandan heat.

Our CouchSurfer host has sent a driver to pick us up (bless). Surprised, he starts driving on the wrong side of the road! Well, Rwanda was colonised by the French so to him it is correct.

Driving along I notice the stark comparison of the traffic from other African countries. People are waiting patiently at traffic lights and motor cyclists seem to be carrying just one passenger.

Soon after driving into a luscious neighbourhood we pull up to a grand, highly secured house. Confused, I turn to Zimbabawia.

‘What kind of host is she?’

Before she can answer, a guard opens the gate and a beautiful Alsatian jumps up to greet us. Our host Mimmy, gives us a hug and leads Zimbabawia and I to our room.

‘You have your own ensuite for freshening up, leave out any clothes that you want the maid to wash. Then when you’re done, come downstairs and I’ll have your lunch prepared,’ beams an absurdly hospitable Mimmy.

One hour later, bathed and full of East African Cabbage* we retreat to our boudoir for an epic sleepathon — this is HEAVEN.

Some time later I lift of my eye ask and check the time… eleven o’clock! We’ve been asleep for almost 24 hours. It’s time to get our arses into Kigali tourist gear.

The smiley young guard lets us out the gate and we venture towards the Rwanada Genocide Museum. We’ve heard whispers of the harrowing exhibition but we really don’t know what to expect — neither of us have heard of the Rwandan genocide.

The second we step into the exhibition, we are in tears. In June 1994 approximately 800 000 Rwandans were slaughtered by their own community in a state-led Genocide.

This horror occurred in my life time. Why haven’t I heard about this?

This means that everyone over the age of 20 in this country; our host, her daughter, the guard, the maid, they all lived through this. What are their stories? I find myself intrusively curious.

Walking out of the museum, Zimbabwia and I are suddenly seeing Rwanda in a whole new light. This place is magnificent, it is so CLEAN — there’s not one bit of rubbish in sight, even plastic bags are illegal — get your shit together Australia! Motorcyclists are only allowed one passenger and they must give them a helmet. And Rwanda has the biggest representation of women in parliament!

Rwanda may have a hideously dark past but they —unlike many, many other countries in the world— have risen like a Phoenix from the ashes.

As we wander the streets looking at the city through a new found lense we stumble upon Inema Arts Centre. Excited to experience some contemporary African culture, we admire the unique paintings whilst being escorted through the gallery by a very handsome resident artist. He informs us that there will be a party tonight and everyone in town will be there.

‘Oh will they?’ we laugh, knowing not to trust every party guarantee.

However, when we return to Mimmy she informs us that actually;

‘Yes, it is a very popular party.’

‘Well then!’

For the first time in months we pop on our best kitenge*, a bit of makeup, eat another glorious Mimmy meal and head back to the gallery.

They weren’t lying. When we walk in we notice that the place has transformed and the party is going off! Zimbabawia and I look at each other wide eyed. We haven’t been out with just the two of us — we don’t know what to do! Like awkward turtles, we circulate the venue and gravitate towards a fabulous man bend and snapping on the dancefloor.

Bitches Boy instantly takes us under his wing and decides it is his mission to find us lovers for the night.

I decide to play along with this hilarious human and admit;

‘I have been admiring that dreadlocked boy by the bar…’

‘Well go over there girlfriend!’ Bitches Boy pouts, while shoving me towards the bar.

Realising that Bitches Boy won’t take no for an answer, I approach the bar.

‘Heya, I really like your shirt,’ I casually say while ordering a drink I don’t want.

‘Oh thanks, I got it made here,’ he replies in an unexpected American accent.

Introductions are exchanged and Honey tells me that he is a new Rwandan expat. We’re flirting away when Zimbabawia walks over to us with a man who has the biggest lips / pillows, I’ve ever witnessed.

‘Do you two know each other?’ I ask Honey, noticing the familiarity between him and Lips.

‘Yeah we’re actually moving in together tomorrow.’

HA! of course Zimbabawia and I have managed to be flirting with the two new roomies! As we laugh at the coincidence of the situation Bitches Boy returns — strutting up to the four of us he commands:

‘Come on, we’re all going to Cocobean Nightclub, you can all flirt there.’

Unable and unwilling to argue, we all pile into a taxi.

As we walk down the long entrance, the banging base of Afrobeats seeps into our skin.

Directly inside, and next to the dancefloor is a fenced off swimming pool.

‘How stupid is that, why have a pool but not let people go in? If I ever come back here I’m jumpin’ in,’ I pout.

‘I will hold you to that,’ winks Honey.

Just like in Namibia everyone is cutting loose on the dancefloor. And once again, I am in awe of the confidence and sexuality in their dance moves. I feel extremely shy and insecure to dance this way with Honey. I decide to tell him these thoughts and he simply replies;

‘We don’t have to dance.’

Relieved, we drink and chat instead. Feeling zero pressure or judgement from Honey, my nerves begin to settle. Once again, I look out over the dancefloor and spot Zimbabawia shaking her booty while sucking Lips’ lips. Just to her side, Bitches Boy is back to slut dropping.

Without giving myself time to think I down the rest of my beer and take Honey’s hand.

‘Let’s dance’.

Encouraged by my new attitude he takes on the role of teacher and pivots my hips so my bum faces his crotch.

He sways me to the rhythm, his legs coaxing mine to relax and before I know it, I’m African dancing!

Honey nuzzles his chin into my neck, I am grateful to have him behind me so I can observe the ladies on the dancefloor.

They are all pushing their booties into their partners. The sexual suggestiveness of their movements confuses my feminist mind.

Willing my judgemental eyes to look further, I finally I see it. Many of the women aren’t with their dance partners — they’re moving from man to man. They aren’t kissing their partners, they’re simply dancing!

It really isn’t about sex. Yes it is sexual; it’s a celebration of one’s own sexuality but it is not a mating call.

Take Salsa, Ramba, Tango, Bachata — they’re all dances that I’ve never attempted but the idea of them make me seriously blush. Is Australia so uncultured that I can’t intimately dance with someone without thinking that I’m giving them an invitation to fuck me?

My attention is once again drawn to Bitches Boy, Lips and Zimbabawia. They are all letting go in their own way, moving their bodies to the rhythm. They’re connecting with each other. There is no self-judgement, they are free.

I am doing this! My mind snaps and just like that my body starts to move how it wants. I push my booty confidently into Honey and he senses the shift. He too unleashes his true dancing — he’s clearly been holding back. Now he’s whipping out the moves!

He spins me around and pulls me to his chest, our cheeks press together and we flow like liquid to the ultimate Afrobeat—African Beauty.

One hour of totally free gyrating later and I ask for a breather. Honey escorts me next to the pool and we laugh at my baptism into African dancing. The laughter falters and we shyly lean in. As our lips connect I feel an ignition deep down in my gut.

This boy is different — he is beautiful, inside and out.

So I guess it turns out that all I needed to make the challenge of African dancing a little easier was some Honey. I even managed to get this honey’s number.


*East African Cabbage – For this delicious recipe and other African favourites visit my first fellow blog friend People I Meet and the Food they Eat

Kitenge – traditional East, West and Central African fabric it is worn as a skirt, head scarf. It has endless pattern and colour possibilities – I love it!


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Gorilla image taken from the Kigali Art Center

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