Kigali is my best African city and so far, the only place I have been to that I would not think much before calling home. I was back in Kigali, Rwanda last week for a few days, attending meetings and doing my usual cultural stuff, and I wanted to share with you a few reasons why I am in love with Kigali:
1. A friendly, safe and efficient city
I had my fair share of ups and downs with the city, thanks to its hilly terrain 🙂 Gashagaza and I took a couple of walks around the city, past the parliament, to the local market and then back to town in a bus. Every person taking a bus has to have a transport card that is preloaded, just like in European trams. When you enter the bus, you then just swipe the card on a machine. All buses have fast Wi-Fi and have to leave from the bus stop at a designated time. This obviously saves time , the hustle and also regulates the transport fares, providing a fair system.
The city plan is friendly, with pathways for cyclers and those walking or jogging. Walking around the city is an enjoyable experience because on top of the breathtaking hilly views and cleanliness, it is also safe. According to a World Economic Forum 2017 report, Rwanda was declared world’s number 9th safest country and Africa’s safest. You can walk around Kigali holding your phone at all corners of the city. You can also ride along the city with your windows down. No one will be grabbing your phone, laptop or bag. There are also designated spots across the country where citizens converge every Sunday mornings for workouts in the city, lead by an instructor.
2. What a clean city!
Anywhere and everywhere I visited or went was super clean and perfectly manicured. Every county has a beautification department that actually functions; at least politicians here aren’t pinching into everything including the country’s beautification budget. Civilians are also doing their part by indulging and come out in numbers in the monthly collective clean up that has been going on for ages, now. No one is littering here or throwing shit outside the window while driving. Apparently it gets cleaner and neater as you move out of the city.
3. You can SAMBAZA everywhere!
Before you even think about it, this sardine off Lake Kivu, lying on the border of Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda, doesn’t taste a bit like Omena! Sambaza reminds me of Lake Tanganyika’s Sleek lates Fish locally known as Mukeke that we had in Bujumbura. All these fish (Sambaza and Mukeke) have a unique and natural sweet taste, not like Omena that you have to figure out. Sambaza has got a natural flavour, thus the simplicity while preparing it—it’s simply fried or dipped in sauce. It’s also boneless! You can get Sambaza anywhere. It’s not cheap though. If you’re in Kigali I highly recommend Repub Lounge, serving some mean Sambazas and a host of other traditional dishes. I loved their Urwarwa, traditionally made wine made from sorghum, banana and honey.
4. Question for you: Do You Love Coffee?
For coffee lovers passing by Rwanda, Question Coffee is the place to be! Love the fact that their coffee is made by Rwandan Women and their establishment and cafe where they are selling it and taking people through trainings and lessons in coffee making and tasting ONLY staffs women. This is real women empowerment and I loved it, almost more than my coffee. We had some nice cold coffee brews to cool us off Kigali sun. I also bought a couple of bags for Lumena Café in Lagos, if you’re reading this and you’re in Lagos – please pass by there and ask them to serve you this. For more: http://www.questioncoffee.com/experience
5. Rwanda also has a Tamu Tamu!
Many have described Kigali’s most vibrant and oldest township – Nyamirambio – as the equivalent of Nairobi’s Eastleigh. This area has a large population of Muslims. For this reason you will easily find Swahili delicacies here. It’s my second time in Nyamirambio. This is where to get the cheapest food and motels in Kigali. The motels will not be top notch but the food – you will never forget it! We dined at Tamu Tamu twice. Their fried Sambaza in Onions and Spiced Black Tea that they call ‘African Tea’ is everything to write home about. Their Pilau, not so much! Just have this in Kenya’s Tamu Tamu.
6. State of the art establishments & stellar brands!
Since my last trip there about three years ago, a lot has changed like the establishment of Kigali Convention Centre and The Kigali Arena.
The latter, right next to Amahoro stadium, is East Africa’s largest biggest indoor arena, with a sitting capacity of 10,000. It’s mind boggling that it only took the government 8 months to complete the project and start running. The Kigali Convention Centre on the other hand houses Radisson Blu hotel with over 200 rooms on 6 floors and a conference centre with seating capacity of 2,600.
I also visited Rwandese brand: Inzuki Designs for some Rwanda-made, Africa-inspired jewellery, accessories and interior décor. Their Kigali store has more variety and relatively lower pricing, compared to what is sold in Kenya. You can actually buy in Rwanda and ask them to ship it to Nairobi in less than 48 hours. I must say that their service was exemplary and the lady handling the store was very helpful. Can’t wait to stunt in the beauties.
BONUS: Thanking my friend Gashagaza for the amazing company, filled with wonderful stories that would fill books if I had to relay. I am home sick already!
Some of my past blogs from Rwanda below: