The Sugar King of Rwanda

Before we leave Rwanda, and while we’re still on the subject of material culture, let me just mention how nice it is that you can get intensely gingery tea with milk pretty much anywhere there.

For instance, at the edge of a national park:


Please note Heineken umbrella, and waiter in Heineken shirt. On the edge of Nyungwe Forest, about a thousand square kilometers of wilderness. Just the drive up to this entrance gate, and the grassy lawn, was a couple of hours of winding-through-nothing.

This bridge was why we went. But I was too terrified to take a photo from the middle of it.

rwanda 183

To give you an idea of the scope of things:

rwanda 194

rwanda 171

rwanda 196

(Yes, that’s an earthworm.)

Anyway, after you’ve hiked out to the wobbly cable bridge, and you’ve survived crossing it, by breathing deep, clutching the wires and chanting “science, science, science” all the way across (because it constantly feels as if it’s going to flip over, but of course, physically, it cannot), well, then you want some restorative “African tea,” as that ginger-milk-tea mix is called.

Everywhere in Rwanda, when you order tea, you get your own giant thermos of it, which is very nice. You also get a large bowl of sugar. And, here on the edge of the forest, we got…the Sugar King!


When our Heineken-shirted waiter brought him over on a tray, Peter and I both started pointing and laughing and taking a million pictures. Which no one really understood.

rwanda 199

Regular readers of this blog may know, but this is because we have a particularly characterful sugar dispenser, Sugar Duck.

The Sugar King of Rwanda is flanked at all times by his loyal bodyguards. They are especially good at silencing the crowds when the Sugar King issues his royal proclamations.


Peter was a most loyal subject, obeying (under the enforcing glare of a bodyguard) the ruler’s decree that every cup of African tea should have not one scoop of sugar, and not two scoops…but three!


I doubt Sugar Duck even knows that his true overlord holds court on the edge of the Nyungwe Forest. He may be hurt at first by Peter’s defection, but I think he’ll understand in the end. If he wants to make a pilgrimage there, to pay his respects, we’ll take him. We might even go hiking again.

(The cable bridge is very cool! We saw tiny little sunbirds and great blue turacos. There are several other, longer day hikes you can take from this entrance gate, where you might see some other wildlife–aside from earthworms and anthropomorphized sugar bowls. If you go, you have to leave Butare at dawn, as the hikes leave at scheduled times in the mid-morning.)


  1. Barbara Sundberg says:

    Zora, you and Peter have to see this movie if you have not already:

    Rising from Ashes
    2012 Film
    5 years in the making, this film is the redemption story of Rwandan’s first ever national cycling team. Rising from the ashes of an unthinkable genocide, 5 riders have become ambassadors of hope for a country destined to rise from their past to a promising future.
    Movie Info

    “Rising from Ashes” is a feature length documentary about two worlds colliding when cycling legend Jock Boyer moves to Rwanda, Africa to help a group of struggling genocide survivors pursue their dream of a national team. As they set out against impossible odds both Jock and the team find new purpose as they rise from the ashes of their past.

    Sorry for the copied explanation. It really is much better than the above description and since you have visited Rwanda and you like to ride a bike I think you will find it very entertaining. Check it out if you get the time.

Comments are closed.