Many brows were raised when I mentioned I was going to Rwanda. I heard questions like; are you not scared? Is the war not going on still? Is it not dangerous to travel there alone? My answer is a big fat juicy NO to all those questions. This is the Rwanda I saw. Most of the photos are my raw non-filtered photos from my phone. Have a look and be the judge.
Ignorance is no bliss. Then again, most of the things we read about African countries are negative, perpetuating a stereotype that is far from the truth. I searched for images of Rwanda and it didn’t remotely show 1% of what I saw and experienced. I have a responsibility as an African to be objective and focus on the positive as there a few positive voices. Yes, Rwanda made me cry about the past, smiled in the present and felt inspired and excited about the future.
I got to Kigali at 2am, but the next day, I left my hotel to a hostel so I could2 amnnect with other travellers. As I checked into my dorm room, I met a lovely Japanese lady, Masayo, who has been travelling solo for 5 months and still had a number of countries to explore. We bonded quickly and shared tips and routes. I look forward to reconnecting with her in Japan and hopefully being life long friends.
We ended up exploring Kigali together. I became the “best African” she met on the trip. She had already been to about 6 other African countries at this point. I was grinning from ear to ear and happy to be carrying the Ghanaian and “African flag”. Do you want proof?
Now, what is not to like about Kigali, Rwanda? Nothing! I repeat nothing! Things work in Rwanda and Kigali is super clean. It really is Africa’s cleanest country.
I thought Singapore was clean until I got to Rwanda. We need more countries like Rwanda. A strong leadership and a mindset shift can make a huge difference. Just have a look! Plastic bags are banned by the way!
Rwanda gives me hope as an African. This place tells me, Africa, as a continent can do it and is doing it. And we should pay attention, watch and listen to them because they have rebuilt against all odds after a very dark past.
Masayo and I ended up going to the Kigali Genocide Memorial, we spent some time at the memorial to learn and reflect, had lunch, tasted great Rwandan coffee
and talked to the friendly staff at the memorial’s café. It was a delight to watch people take so much pride in their work.
I was blown away by how quickly the centre emailed me my written message for survivors of genocide or my impression of the centre; within 24 hours, it was right in my inbox and the chance to tweet it. Which I did by the way. You should definitely visit and make a donation. It is free for you and me to go and experience the amazing work they have done and continue to do. Let’s support them because they are doing incredible work educating the world.
Masayo and I then went to the local craft market, where you have to let your negotiation skills come through. The sellers didn’t hassle you like they do in some cities.
I surprised myself in Kigali. For a start, I do have a love-hate relationship with motorbikes, but it was all love in Rwanda. Masayo and I did a motorbike tour of the land of a thousand hills.
It is the best way to see Kigali and get around. We loved it! It was super affordable too.
We saw many landmarks including the famous hotel in the film “Hotel Rwanda”
I heard you get Wifi as soon as you get into most taxis. I am yet to experience that
In the evening, Masayo and I went to another craft market close to our hostel to find a particular souvenir and ended up being caught in the rain. The sellers ceased the opportunity to sing and dance, as it was close of day for them. I danced in the rain with locals at the craft market to a song, which was a hit in Kenya at the time. No one knew the lyrics, but we all loved the melody and excitedly sang to the chorus.
The people of Kigali were very friendly, kind and efficient. On my way to the airport, I saw the very impressive Kigali Convention Centre. You can watch that building for days and not get bored.
Kigali is super safe too. Talking about security, expect sniffer dogs and a solider/military police to supervise the search before you get to the airport departure lounges. This is pretty intense. So please don’t get any funny ideas. Just so you know, it is zero tolerance to corruption in Rwanda.
By the way, my visa to Rwanda was $30. I got a visa on arrival at the airport and you will be delighted to know Kigali had the best free Wi-Fi connection at the airport and is unlimited! I know this because; there was a moment on my travels where I spent 13hours there. Yep!
I have written about my experience in Rwanda in my column with the Business & Financial Times Newspaper,
but I clearly can’t wait to go back to Kigali; it easily became one of my favourite cities not only on the continent but also in the world. Rwanda made me cry, learn, dance and gave me hope and faith.
I want to go back and explore the coffee fields. I bought loads of coffee and gave them as gifts to my friends in Europe.
I look forward to seeing the beautiful nature and gorillas in their natural habitat.
So pack and go! Don’t believe what someone who hasn’t seen it tell you it’s not safe to go.
Africa is beautiful, Rwanda is beautiful and inspiring. Vamejo! Come let’s go, it’s that simple.
Rwanda has so much to offer. Get in touch with me and let me help you plan and experience all aspects of the amazing experiences Rwanda and Kigali have to offer. It will be an experience you will treasure forever. Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org