MPJ Youth, a university student community to learn about Africa and promote it in Japan, invited Thembo to join their event during March 14 and 18, 2022. After he was able to get close to friendly Japanese students as soon as he met them, he joined several online seminars, and they showed him around Tokyo, such as Shinjuku and Asakusa. We can see a bright future from those young people across the borders actively learn the past and think about the future.
The following is his essay.
Thanks to Mako Iino san, the former Japanese exchange student who invited me and introduced me to the members of Millennium Promise Japan (MPJ) Youth and asked if I can participate in their camp which I accepted. MPJ Youth is a group of Japanese students from different universities who are interested in African affairs and promoting Africa in Japan. This time, they had organized a Rwanda online tour which involved a series of activities. On March 14, we had a kick-off meeting in Shinjuku (one of the busiest city in Tokyo) where we introduced ourselves, what we like, our expectations, and divided ourselves into four groups of 4-7 members. We later had hybrid Zoom session with PIASS Peace Club at my home university in which several discussions were made.
On March 15, the following day, we again meet in Shinjuku at the same place. We started with an evaluation of the previous session, played some Japanese traditional games, discussed Africa and each group discussed which places they would like to visit for sightseeing in two days and two different groups during the camp sessions. This day was interesting. In my group, we were both talking, laughing, and joking as if we had met for a long time before. The members were very friendly and soon my group members become my friends whom I ate out with several other days. We later had a hybrid Zoom conference with PIASS Peace Club members for the second day. This session was too interactive as we were sharing about Japanese culture, African cultures, social life, and sharing our experiences in Japan, etc.
In the end, I had dinner with Yuki (Ide) san, the MPJ Youth president, and Mako san in Shinjuku. The most thing I enjoyed in Japan was trying different Japanese such as eating different food. They recommended I eat ramen which was delicious and become among my favourite Japanese dishes. On March 16, they had a lecture by the Rwandan Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion. I couldn't attend this session as they said it's not necessary since it will be in Japanese. That day, I went to visit the United Nations University in Shibuya (another busy city in Tokyo) with my Japanese friend who had come from the UK.
On the 17th, we had an online lecture by His Excellency Dr. Charles Murigande, the former Rwandan ambassador to Japan. This lecture was educative; he presented about the pre-colonial and post-colonial Rwanda education system. He later discussed the pre-genocide, post-genocide education system, and the contemporary changes in the Rwandan education sector. We later had a question and answer session and ended the meeting. On this day, my group had agreed to meet in Musashisakai after the online session. We met and went to visit the Tokyo Sky Tree which is currently the world's tallest tower standing at 650 meters tall. I was surprised to reach the tower, it was too technological, tall with many businesses inside and many people flocking in and out. I was too excited and we paid for a ticket to get on top of it, it wasn't cheap. On top, I wasn't the only one who looked scared to see big buildings looking too short and small and at the same time excited to have a clear view of Tokyo. My group members were too funny and friendly, they could tease me to step on the transparent glass and look down to see how scary I would be like other people around. We took pictures and left. From the tower, we went to visit the Senso-Ji temple located in Asakusa for cultural experience and prayers. This temple is an ancient Buddhist and the oldest in Tokyo. It looked busy and colourful, I prayed using my usual and favourite fortune telling prayer which predicted a lot of success in my future. Actually, I had begun to believe in this fortune-telling style of prayer after we went to eat some street sweets and Sakura pans and left Asakusa. It was another memorable day ever in Japan.
On March 18, the last day, we had a lecture by Lycee' de Kigali which is a private senior high school in Rwanda. On this day, I was with a different group and we planned to do sightseeing in the morning and attend the online session in the evening. This group was funny and friendly too. Some of the members we're studying some courses together at TUFS and it was fun to meet them. We meet in Musashisakai and went to visit the National Museum of Nature and Science located in the northeast corner of Ueno Park in Tokyo. This museum had a lot of exhibitions on pre-Meiji science in Japan. To this museum, Africa is the cradle of human civilization which made me wonder why Africa is still behind other civilizations. I was also surprised that this museum had a lot of artefacts from Africa. On the way back, we passed to Ueno and ate monja, another favourite dish in Japan and later went to a café shop where I attended another different online tour and after that left for Tama. This tour exposed me to a lot of new things through interactions. Since then, some of the MPJ members became my close friends and kept visiting me at the dorm as I cook for them some Ugandan food and eat out. In March 2022, I will be helping them to organize another tour with Ugandan university students, especially from Makerere University.