Five months of lockdown and love in India

Saturday August 29 2020

Robert Mugisha was forced to stay in India for almost six months due to a lockdown in Rwanda. PHOTO | COURTESY


Robert Mugisha, a 28-year-old tech and gaming entrepreneur is the founder of Dope Apps, the creator of Ilagik, the first game with locations solely based in Rwanda.

This self-proclaimed gamer saw his passion and skill get him a work trip to India. Unfortunately, he found himself stranded in India for five months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He recently returned home a couple of weeks ago after almost six months away from his family. Here, he describes his experience.

“My year started off well and I had ticked off some milestones I set for the new year. I embarked on many gaming projects that were going to revolutionise the gaming industry in Rwanda and Africa at large. To crown it all, I was invited by an Indian organisation that is the brainchild of the famous India sport, Kho Kho, for a workshop to lead a team that would bring this popular Indian sport to Africa.

I spent a couple of weeks in India and gained a lot of momentum coaching and conceptualising how we were going to launch this game in Africa. Everything was running smoothly and I was happy about how everything was going. I was set to return to Rwanda on March 22, but on March 21 the government imposed a lockdown — becoming the first country in Africa to do so.

I had been offline nearly the entire week as I was focused on the last phase of my business trip and I remember waking up on the eve of Saturday, March 21 to news on Twitter that Rwanda was on lockdown and all international flights coming in and out had been cancelled indefinitely.


This meant that I had to stay in India longer than I expected. What was even worse was that the first case of coronavirus in Rwanda was reported in a passenger who arrived from India.

Fortunately, I convinced the company that had brought me to India to finance my extended stay until things resumed back to "normal." Little did I know that would not be the case.

It was a harrowing experience for me, but I decided that I was going to go with the flow. I was stuck in a foreign country with no family and no actual friends besides the team that had brought me there. A couple of days before the lockdown, I at the training workshop I was involved in. It was a very random meet-up.

She did not attend all the trainings, but on a day she was present, I said hi and told her how beautiful she was. She was flattered by my straightforwardness and just grinned. And that was it. The universe had conspired to bring us together through one of the instructors of the workshop.

My friend made the introduction through a WhatsApp video call and I got to briefly meet her family virtually. We hit it off and before I knew it we were having non-stop back to back conversations on social platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. Things were moving very fast and soon enough I got formally introduced to her parents. Soon we were both saying "I love you" to each other. 

After three months of lockdown and much deliberation I popped the question. With the world coming to a standstill due to the pandemic, I decided to take the plunge. I actually proposed to her online and she said yes.

However, our whirlwind romance came to a halt after resistance from her family. She had got married at 15 years, but separated from her husband, which caused a lot of complications.

 For me, what started as a business trip to India turned into an engagement that did not materialise. It was a trip of a lifetime for me.