The last time I was in Kigali I was traveling to South Africa. I topped for just a few minutes and made a mad dash downtown from the airport, but that’s not what I remember. What happened later is what has stuck with me for many year. My flight was to take off minutes before 12 midnight, but its was delayed without an explanation. Then the waiting arrival laung started filling up, and after my visit to the washroom, I had nowhere to seat. That night, I ended up sleeping on the cold floor till 5am when we were finally on our way to Jozi.
It’s always said that you can’t say anything bad about Kigali, but that was my worst in my travel journey. There are also things said about Rwanda and the President, things I will not talk about because being here I now know better. I have never seen a country that has a jail right inside the city, I mean the energy you use to go to the Library is the same energy they will use to send you to jail. A lot of stupid things you experience while travelling in other african countries can never be seen here.
The roads are clean, dust is minimal, the drive ways are beautiful running together with the walkways, and when night falls, its bright as day. People here are well mannered, the culture here is different, people feel safe. A friend who has always travelled for cms africa summit says that one of the reasons he feels safe in Kigali is because its a clean city. Clean it is, and so its green, in fact its so important they don’t joke with that, if you happen to crush in the big beautiful trees in a long the road you will pay a RW4 million fine, or go to jail or both.
But generally I believe Rwandans are just a polite people. They come from a really difficult past but they have managed really well to navigate the waters. Most of the people here believe that the government has their best interest at heart. They feel the impact of government’s development agenda. Rwanda is a country of 12 million people with about 2 million people living in Kigali. The unemployment is at 17% yes, am also shocked to learn. Here, it’s the Rwandan driving the economy in most areas. The ruling party here have a consortium that owns and runs most business here.
This time, it’s a wet weather, with rains arriving at a moment’s notice. In the morning a cloud arrents Kigali and make it difficult to enjoy the view from the hills in rebero a large new housing estate here in Kigali proving one of the top accomodations. The property we are staying in is very big accommodating all our team of 18 and still with more space. Booked on airbnb, Rwanda has really tapped into this technological advancement. The owner says it took him 10 years to build this place, and from what i see, it was truly a labour of love.
There is good vibe here in Kigali. From what I have seen, the people here are very creative. Lots of nice product made in Rwanda are on display in all shops. I also paid visit to an exhibition just a few meters from the Marriott Hotel. I have loved how they have been able to fight the outside influence keeping local products thriving while partnering with foreign countries to manufacture locay. You will notice that many of the products made in Kigali world be a little expensive to an average citizen, but then I think in some way, Kigali generally is an expensive city.
My stay here will end on the 21st March, I had hoped to be here with my wife unfortunately she lost her grandmother. But am sure she would have loved it. We have our summit here the same week Rwanda is holding different conferences including the east african heads of state summit early next week. After our summit I will take time and tour Kigali and enjoy what this beautiful city has to offer.
If you are a traveller, this should be on your list, and I hope it will be as rewarding to you as ita has been to be. We keep travelling the world.