KIGALI, RWANDA — In a hastily organized press conference this afternoon, beleaguered Rwandan officials appealed to the international community after a crippling shortage of black people hit this small African nation.
“The people of Rwanda are asking the governments of the United States, Great Britain, and the European Community to please send us more black people,” Minister of Black Affairs Frank Bizirineza told a gathering of white journalists and aid workers on the terrace of Kigali’s Bourbon Coffee. “The situation is dire, and we need your help. We are rapidly running out of blacks.”
“I mean, Christ, this looks like Sweden,” he added, addressing the golden-haired crowd.
Interviews with government officials have revealed fears that the dramatic influx of whites into Rwanda could precipitate a full-scale crisis in the months ahead. According to local media, Kigali supermarkets have been unable to cope with the sudden demand for soy milk and hummus. A New Times poll found more than 85 percent of Rwandans to have been puzzled in recent weeks by requests to “get that to-go.”
Reports that the capital was facing a dire shortage of horn-rimmed glasses and ironic t-shirts could not be confirmed.
Sources say there is growing concern in government circles that whites are driving prices in Kigali’s most fashionable bars and restaurants to record levels.
On a recent Friday night at Heaven, a trendy restaurant in Kigali’s Kiyovu district, Jean-Claude Nicimpaye, black, expressed his fears that widespread famine might follow in the wake of so many whites.
“I am expected to pay 6,000 Rwandan francs for something called ‘gnocchi,’” said Mr. Nicimpaye, shaking his head.
“Do you people want us to starve?” he asked.
The capital, according to analysts, has been hardest hit by the surplus of whites. Kigali’s Bourbon Coffee, according to a recent Human Rights Watch report, ranks among the most densely populated coffee shops on the planet. And UNICEF, in a blistering critique of Rwanda’s open-door visa policy, reported that a “600 percent increase in well-nourished, apple-cheeked children with flaxen hair and virtue true” had been observed in the past five years.
In recent weeks, a number of whites have been seen in desperate states of repose in Bourbon’s plush armchairs, sparking fears of a looming refugee crisis.
Innocent Nishirimana, a waiter at the cafe, told This Is Africa that many whites could be found in bare feet and tattered t-shirts, reclining on Bourbon sofas in a narcotic stupor for hours on end.
According to Bourbon officials, many whites were surviving on little more than $7 Funky Monkey Kawaccinos.
“It is a desperate situation,” said one harried manager, requesting anonymity. “I think many of these people have no homes.”
Analysts say that Rwanda, reeling from a decade of strong economic growth and stability, has been unable to cope with the devastating flood of whites in recent years.
“Church groups, consultants, analysts, doctoral students – we’re seeing sharp increases in all of these humanitarian-assistance disasters across the board,” said Eva Olaffson, of the International Red Cross.
“And aid groups – fuck, do we need more acronyms?” she added.
Many whites describe their motives for coming to Rwanda as altruistic.
“You know, you have all these AIDS orphans, and the genocide, and so many people are so poor,” said amateur videographer and documentarian Toph Johnston, 26, of Park Slope, Brooklyn. “And like the chicks are so fucking hot. I just felt like it was selfish of me to keep spending my dad’s money on myself.”
Johnston’s experiences in Rwanda, which he described as “like waking up in a room of wall-to-wall ass,” reflect a perception among many young American whites that visiting Africa will help them to make a difference in the lives of blacks who were doing just fine without them.
Jeni Stepinak, 22, who last year completed her studies at Chattanooga State University, recently returned to Rwanda, where she spent nine months researching her Ph.D. dissertation, “Inter-gender Relations and Post-Genocide Rwanda: (Re)Imagining Women’s Roles in the African Home.”
According to Stepinak, traditional relationships in Rwandan society have seen a dramatic upheaval in recent years, owing to the traumatic legacy of the genocide, the rapid move toward modernization, and the arrival of “tons of available white girls.”
“Rwandan men and women have for centuries engaged in a delicate mating dance whose subtleties and intricacies have been handed down from one generation to the next,” said Stepinak. “But, like, Rwandan girls won’t even go down on their guys. So I’m like, ‘Your loss!’”
Stepinak said this was one of the many crucial findings from her forthcoming book, The Modern Crisis and the Oral Tradition in Rwanda, adding, “That’s Jeni with an ‘i’.”
According to Stepinak and many of her colleagues, there is an urgent need to promote dialogue between genders in this troubled nation. Stepinak added that she had spent countless hours in horizontal congress, often working deep into the night to assist the healing process.
“It’s the least I could do for these poor, strapping, tragic, muscular people,” she said, gently caressing the bicep of her companion, Pierre.
“Plus I get to wear cute sandals year-round,” she added.
Government officials fear that the experiences of young volunteers like Stepinak will only encourage more whites to move to Rwanda, thus exacerbating the current crisis.
“We are grateful for the gift of your blond nubile daughters and your bright-eyed sons willing to work for slave wages,” said one government official, speaking on conditions of anonymity. “But really, enough is enough.”