The Village of the Gorilla Guardians is a unique replica of how the people of Rwanda lived in similar, small villages scattered around the countryside.  The village is warm and alive with happy villagers all playing their part.  Several of the males are the once poachers.  Edwin's curiosity and intuitive belief that there was more to the story and that the poachers were not "natural born criminals," led him to the actual village where the men and their families lived so that he could ask them one simple question.  Why do you poach.  The answer was given to him by the man they call the elephant man.  The answer was a simple one, yet, also a complex one.  

The Twa people were the original inhabitants of the country now called Rwanda.  They lived in the forests and subsided in the forest, taking only what they needed to live.  They never exploited the forest or the other creatures that lived there. with them. Instead, as we know the indigenous people of our United States, the native Americans also lived, so did the Twa.  

 

Because the Twa lived in harmony with their surroundings they were penniless, so to speak.  The Tutsi were herds people.  Their capitol was their herds of cows.  The Hutu were farmers.  Their capitol was their produce and the milk from the cows they acquired after arriving in Ruanda-Burundi.  Thus, in the modern world  of colonialism and post colonialism the Twa remained penniless.  They had to find work wherever they could.  They still needed to feed their families.  When offered an opportunity to earn quick cash by capturing and selling a baby gorilla, they took that chance and committed their crime as it was defined by those in post colonial Rwanda.  

 

Go to this website address (https://www.cnn.com/videos/intl_tv-shows/2015/04/21/spc-african-voices-edwin-sabuhoro-b.cnn/video/playlists/intl-african-voices/)  and watch as CNN interviews Edwin for his 2015 Hero of the Year debut.  As you listen to Edwin speak you can intuit how I immediately became attracted to this special young man.  Edwin is extremely intelligent.  He's a thinker and his thinking and proclivity for compassion made him question his actions and the results of those actions.  He built the Gorilla Guardian Village for the Twa people so they could live a legitimate life and earn an honest, good living.  As you visit with the people of the village you get a strong sense of the love the men and women who perform for the public love their employer, Edwin Sabuhoro.  It's very obvious that everyone  loves what they do for a living.  The village is a happy place.  I miss it.  I miss the people of the village.  I miss the love and harmony I felt while staying at the village.

When we first arrived to spend the night at the village, I learned that Edwin had a surprise for me.  You can see that surprise below.  All the huts are named in honor of special people who live to help protect and study the gorillas.  On the door of my hut is the name of Dian Fossey.  I  slept in the hut named for her tireless work learned all she could about the gorillas she gave her life to protect.  I was honored to stay in the hut after her namesake.  Thank you, Edwin.

And...thanks to all the wonderful people in the village who are their to commemorate and protect the beautiful beings who live in the volcano mountains that surround the village.  I will always remember my two nights in the beautiful village with beautiful human beings.

The entrance of the village.  Adjcent to the road is a small parking lot.  There's a short walk to the entrance of the actual village.  The designs on the pillars and above the entrance are traditional tribal designs seen throughout the country.
 
The door of my hut.  What a great surprise to be staying in my hero's namesake room.
I received another surprise when it was time to turn in.  Although the days were warm and pleasant, the nights were quite chilly.  The comfortable large bed I climbed into had three full hot water bottles in it to snuggle up to.  One was at the foot of the bed and kept my piggy toes toasty warm.  I love being toasty warm and the thoughtful hot water bottles did just the trick.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The hut I stayed in both nights I was fortunate to be welcomed by the inhabitants of the Gorilla Guardian Village.  Warm and
cozy  and quite large inside.
The beautiful woven piece is the tray I brought home.  It was woven by one of the village women.  It now hangs on my wall in my living room.  A beautiful reminder of my time in beautiful Rwanda, Africa.
 
 
The clothing of all the villagers is colorful and reflects their love of life.
 
 
Mail traditional dancers.  These men dance and swing their grass headgear as they do.  Their traditional dance is lively as it's obvious they are having fun dancing.  
 
Today, 3/30, I once again watched the two-hour special about Dian Fossey.  I was thrilled when I saw the same clothing, including the headgear in a scene where the same traditional tribal dance was reenacted at a celebration Dian attended.  
 
 
All the people in the village greet guests as they walk into the center of the village.  In the forefront is an elder Twa warrior, Kaziboneye.  He loves to put on a show.  The more you smile, the more energy he exerts.
 
 
My African Bob Dylan with his hand made wooden instrument.  His real name is Kabatsi Felicien.  I loved his gravely voice as he serenaded us, non-stop, for at least an hour.
 
 
This young man, Mukiza John, is the manager of the village.  He's responsible for all the activities that go on here.  He does a splendid job as there is never a dull moment.