The Player’s Guide to Kigali

Oh, the abundance of epigrams and proverbs one might use to introduce this article! “To play the game, you need to know the rules”, “Most people want to be deceived”, “Don’t join the game unless you’re prepared to lose”, “I’m not a player, I just crush a lot…”

As it were, I have decided to cleverly wiggle myself out of writing a proper introduction, and get straight to the point. Kigali is a city of fluctuation, dear friends. Fresh meat and un-tainted souls pour into our city much like the tide washes in over ruddy beaches (or, if you will, a tsunami steadfastly surges over the land). With each load of new arrivals, Kigalians are given a chance to hunt bewildered and naïve prey; to trap gullible expats with skillfully woven webs; to balance and juggle and seek and hide— or put differently: play. And trust me, play they do. Do take note, however, that with ‘they’ I am not referring exclusively to the locals. Expats having spent more than a year here is likely to have joined the player’s ranks already. So be ware. Or join them.

Following is a list of how to successfully be a player. If you currently are blissfully ignorant of the devious ways of the Kigali inhabitants, or you are in a monogamous relationship (haha, oh you sweet innocent thing) with a wonderful man or woman, do not continue reading. Your world might possibly be shattered, and hey, if you’re only here for a few months why bother breaking the bubble? If you on the other hand are: a) wanting to try the game as well, or b) hoping to stay out of the game altogether, feel free to use this list in any way you deem useful.

1. The Truth — “I don’t want anything serious.”

This phrase is like sticky fly paper to a bug; like a glowing light to a moth. Make absolutely sure you have uttered this sentence by the end of your first encounter with the person you wish to conquer. Any man/woman hearing this will do one of three things: 1. Find it reassuring that you are only looking for a good time, 2. Develop a strong and unexplainable desire to change you, or 3. Decide to stay away from you, but being absolutely unable to do so. Either way, you have them hooked.

Say this even if you do want something serious. That way you are certain not to scare anyone off. You can always decide later on that you want to be serious, but you can never start off by saying you want a relationship and then back out. Not without losing your prey, I mean. It’ll end in tears and screaming, and that’s always uncomfortable. Yuck.

2. The Multiple Name Equation

Strange, I know, but in Kigali it works. Simply alternate between your first and middle name when you introduce yourself to different groups of people. If your parents did not love you enough to give you more than one name, I guess you can use a nickname. The point is to vary the name people know you by. This will minimize your chances of being revealed as a player. Two people can be talking about this wonderful guy/girl they went out with, and have no clue they are talking about the same person. Simple, but efficient. We usually say that the relationship between the amount of names and ‘secure’ boy/girlfriends follow this equation:


This means that with one name, you can keep 3 boy/girlfriends. With two names, your harem may be expanded to 6! Once you start using more than 3 names, however, things might start to get out of hand, and the formula does no longer apply. At least not for ‘secure’ relationship, meaning your lovers don’t know about each other.

(For you math people out there, it is interesting to notice that as the lower limit of the summation is x = ½, you can by using half a name still have 2,25 boy/girlfriends. The 0,25 is equivalent to a baby goat, and inflatable toy, or a blonde Scandinavian.)

3. The Kigali Gossip Loop Hole

Kigali is one of the most gossipy cities in the world. So why not use it in your advantage? It makes sense, does it not, that you don’t want to be too close in public because you dislike people talking about you?

Personally, I hate being in the spotlight, and in a city like Kigali, I just prefer staying at home in my own house, you know? People make up the craziest stories here, and trust me, baby, you don’t want to get dragged into it. I know I shouldn’t care about what people are saying, but gossip really just gets to me. You wouldn’t believe what sort of stuff I’ve heard about people!

…did you believe me? Hehe… sucker.

Oh, and this one’s even better. Begin dropping little remarks about gossip you’ve heard about your prey (made up obviously.) “Someone told me that you were in Kibuye last weekend with so-and-so!” or “I’ve heard some interesting stories about you, you know… I don’t believe them of course!” Not only will your prey sympathize with your wish to stay out of the public eye, they will also be less likely to believe any gossip they hear about you! ‘Tis brilliant, my friends. Brilliant!

4. “Okay, I’m going to tell you the truth” OR “I never told anyone else this before”

The first one is classic liar’s line. I mean, what other reason might a person have to tell you this, unless he/she is usually NOT telling the truth? The reaction to both these sentences, however, is this: “Oh my gosh, I must be special! Me, little me! He/she has chosen ME to reveal something about him/herself! With telling me this, he/she must think I am truly different from others, and that he/she can trust me. Does this mean she/she loves me…? Oh God, I need to take my clothes off.”

People like feeling special. People who feel special, are more likely to take their clothes off. It’s a scientific fact. Or at least a social one.

Do not— I repeat DO NOT— add “…because you are special” at any point in your conversation. This will make them suspicious. Most people are trained to suspect compliments; there is a little part in our brains programmed to tell us that compliments are a sleazy method of achieving fornication. You don’t want that part being activated on in your prey’s brain. A suspicious prey will start stirring stuff up. They’ll start asking around, and second-guessing everything you tell them. Not good. In general, less is more. So tell them just enough to make them draw conclusions on their own. That way, they think they’re smart. And hey, the only thing more likely to take its clothes off than a person feeling special, is a person feeling special AND smart. Bo-ya.

2. Be Saved

I’m not talking about being saved by Jesus here, though if you have been— good for you. I’m talking about being saved by your prey. Ironic perhaps, but extremely efficient. Allow yourself to be saved by someone, and they will immediately put down their guard towards you. If people feel that they have rescued you somehow, they not only feel special; they feel connected to you, as if a bond has formed. It’s all very poetic.

Obviously, you don’t need to throw yourself in front of a car in order for your prey to save you. First of all, it’s dangerous. And second of all, you’ll get all dirty and un-sexy rolling around on the ground. There are other ways a person can save you. How about helping you through a difficult time? Fake a depression and let the guy/girl offer mental support. Or what about asking for advice in a work-related matter? Take the advice, and let the person know after how much their help meant to you. You may also use more shallow situations. For instance, you can let someone ‘save’ you from a boring conversation.

It shouldn’t be necessary to add this, but I’ll do it all the same: Don’t ask anyone to help you in money matters. When lending you money, they might feel like they’re saving you, but you’re running a high risk of making them feel used instead. Feeling needed— good. Feeling used— bad.

5. The Future-Talk Entrapment

Seriously, this works every time. You need to be vague though. Drop phrases like: “I really want to get a house in Spain when I have enough money saved up. Do you like Spain?” or “My dream is to one day take a road trip through America. Do you like driving?” A sneaky way to make your prey believe that you are considering them in your future without actually being guilty of leading anyone on. If they ever call you out on it, you were just making conversation.

You may also joke around with how your children would look, but this is for more experienced players. It might also work better for men than women. Talking about children is risky territory, and can get ugly pretty fast. Maybe dogs are better. As a conversational topic, I mean, not as replacement for your parental love. Unless it’s Chihuahua of course… Goddi-goddi-goddiiiiiii!!!!! Oh God, my heart is beating twice as fast just thinking about it…

6. “Just to use you and me as an example”

This is kind of an addition to the previous trick. It’s simply another way of luring your prey into believing that you might be thinking about the two of you as something more than a shallow relationship. Remember, you have already told your prey that you are not looking for anything serious, so when you’re placing ideas about the future into their heads, you are confusing them just enough to keep them around, and continue to put up with all your bullshit.

Why don’t you try the following phrases: “I mean, if the two of us ever were to go on a holiday, wouldn’t you think it was weird if we didn’t share the same room?” or “Like, if you and I got married, I just can’t imagine not having my brother in the wedding, you know?”

7. The Sex God/Goddess Look

Hum, perhaps I should not have saved this one for last. Because, really, if you look like a troll, there ain’t gonna be no happy ending to YOUR fairly tale, dude… Ah! Wait! Oh my God, I totally just remembered something…! Haha! …so yeah, actually, you CAN look like a troll and still play the game. Awesome. Forget what I just said. IMAGINE you look like a sex God and/or Goddess (though preferable chose one of the two), and all will be well. Confidence is okay, but too much will ruin it for you. Look a little bit vulnerable and weak. This will make others want to save you, and it will make them less likely to believe the awful rumors people are telling them. (“What? Oh no, she/he can’t possibly be a player! She/he is actually really sweet and insecure! It’s just that her/his heart was broken once…”) Yadda yadda yadda.

Thus, in conclusion, if you want to be a player in Kigali you have the best chances of succeeding if you’re a two-named Sex-God/Goddess with an air of vulnerability, claiming to not want anything serious yet slyly dropping hints about the future, all-the-while avoiding public settings, criticizing and/or ridiculing gossip, in need of rescuing, and at times talking about your love for Chihuahuas and/or children. Difficult, yes. Impossible, absolutely not. Or so I’ve heard.

About Inga

Born and raised in Norway, culturally transformed in the US, and now residing in Rwanda. Studied biology, but teaching English in Kigali while finishing up my Master's, and debating future career options. At the moment starting up a cocoa plantation is at the top of my list, closely followed by founding an improv society. Severely technologically challenged, but somewhat creatively gifted. A great lover of the Universe, as well as cakes and salt. A passionate hater of small concrete rooms.