Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sandra, my Favorite Niece

Sandra Karagirwa, Gordon Nicol’s marvelous daughter and my favorite niece: where to even begin. She is beautiful, graceful, talented (with a voice to charm angels) and sweet; Gordon has himself one fantastic girl. Her horrific past, as a young survivor of the Rwandan genocide, also tempered her character; but it did not slay the stunningly beautiful butterfly that is her soul.

I am of an ideal age to deal with her: old enough to keep the brain functioning and the relationship proper, but still not so that I cannot appreciate her beauty and truly innocent affection she so readily gives. I spent quite a bit of time with her; I am very concerned, because she is trying to hang onto her morals in a music industry that will do everything it can to strip those morals away. She is innovative and sharp, but she is getting a little bit desperate, as the following story will show:

I had promised her a big hug when we first met and I delivered. She has filled out somewhat since 2 years before, when I met her only briefly; she was way too skinny then. She had a performance scheduled later that evening, so Winnie and I agree to go along; her Aunt was going to be there as well. I was concerned, because her knee was still wrapped (from a previous pedestrian accident that had also fractured her skull) and it was troubling her; she did not need to be performing on it.

Once there, I was shocked at how publicly affectionate she was with me, well beyond what I would consider a typical ‘Uncle’ affection; big hugs, hanging on my arm, etc. If Alan had been in my place, his brains would have oozed out. It was distracting to say the least. The crowd was small, due to intermittent light rain, but everyone knew Sandra. I got a lot of curious (and definitely envious) looks, but Sandra did not exactly go around introducing me (why was something my grey matter would’ve normally deduced, but Sandra can- at least temporarily- disable cerebral function of even 53-year-old males).

I finally confronted her about it the next morning and it was as I surmised; she was deliberately portraying an image of having a Mzungu ‘Sugar Daddy’ to get some of the guys in the business to back off. I told here that, now that I understand, I would be happy to continue to play the role whenever needed (not exactly unpleasant duty). Later, she had another performance scheduled in this club; a fun place, but up a bunch of steps that we had to bring Winnie’s wheelchair up. Turned out the owner had died that day and the show was called off. Too bad, if for no other reason that the M.C. was supposed to be one of Sandra’s bigger headaches; I was all ready to go macho on him if need be.

As for the ‘Respect’ picture below: those that don’t know Africa don’t realize how male dominated it is in certain regards and dangerous for women alone. If giving some male with the wrong intentions a moment of pause that a crazed Mzungu may come looking for him, all well and good. Because this is the Mzungu they could end up meeting if they do any of my girls real harm.

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