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Romancing Kigali: Impressions from the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’

A traveler’s journal on his visit to Rwanda while attending the 5th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP 2018), submitted by Jean Philip Lawson.

Prinstine hills has a fair weather, clean surroundings, and a bright-eyed people. These were the first of things that greeted me when I stepped foot on the soil of Rwanda for the first time.

For me, I meant a lot considering the fact that the country has lately received significant amount of attention for the good reasons. For that matter, allow me to draw this conclusion that; Rwanda is the embryonic reality of imaginary Wakanda.

Take-off

We left Accra at 1:05pm using the much talked about Terminal 3 of the Kotoka International Airport in Accra. It was an ultra modern facility. The flight was a transit into Librevile, Gabon.

Touch-down

On arrival at Kigali at 9:22pm, we checked in to our hotel and attending the conference was next on the agenda. First impressions: Kigali has good road network.

There was not a single pothole registered on the road right from the airport to the hotel where I lodged. Same way the situation from the hotel to the Kigali Convention Center. This run through most parts of Kigali only that the roads were narrow. Also there were a few bumpy roads but they are not to be dreaded. The streets were also well lit at night to aid in smooth driving. Plus I did not encounter any traffic jam in my short stay.

Kigali Convention Center

This is the official conference venue, a magnificent sight to behold especially at night. It qualified to attain legendary status soon with its dome-shaped body, colorful lighting and strategic location- siting in the midst of many surrounding hills.

The Kigali Convention Center has a hotel called Radisson Blu, which ably complements it. You don’t want to see the former at night. It is an absolute spectacle. It is dressed in the colors: Blue, Yellow and Green, depicting the colors of the national flag.

Cleanliness and Orderliness

The country is modest but also very neat. There aren’t plush buildings everywhere. It is quite noteworthy the fact that one could find no litter in the city or even the countryside. The place is neat and clean and tidy. You won’t find disorder here. No hawking on the streets, no selling along the the roadside.

The grasses are well barbed; uniformly short and were fairly green everywhere I passed. I also found people sweeping the streets during the day. There is also that sense of order you can perceive it in your sense when you take cursory looks at the people and carefully observe around. You won’t hear any noise in public places like the honking of car horns nor open preaching of the gospel. Also cars do not park by the roadside because there are designated areas for that.

The People

The people are fairly courteous and hospitable. And they are really on time. Can you imagine the driver of the shuttle who was to send me to the airport for my return trip back to Accra arrived at exactly 3am which I requested for? That was an odd hour but he came because I chose it. I did not want to be late and he was also very punctual and this made me forms a good impression about the people’s time consciousness.

Shuttle buses moved on schedule almost at every time. The people seem willing and ready to be great. There are pedestrian walkways everywhere and the people walk on them. There is also good police and security presence as well. Move into the hinterland and you will also realize how people are living the basic life. The rural folks are farmers- a largely agrarian than industrialized society it still is.


 Rwanda, well done!

Rwanda, asante sana!

Murakoze!

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