It started raining buckets today.
Everyone’s spirit was dampened including my 7 month old daughter. This was our last day in Kigali and the only day we had to explore the city and visit attractions. The rain really tried it, but we were determined to see one particular attraction; the genocide museum. We decided we would get umbrellas, visit the genocide museum and stay in the hotel. We headed to the restaurant for breakfast, showered and got dressed for the day. Then the rain stopped. Hallelujah!!!!!
Our day started around noon and Thomas, the cab guy from Day 1, was our guide for the day. This was our first drive around the city and it was unbelievably green and clean too. Believe me we did not see one bobby pin on the floor. Even in the rural areas, zilch! I did a mental flashback and compared cities i.e Lagos (where I live) and Kigali. As usual, you get fined when you throw dirt on the floor.
We don’t cut trees in this country and if you have to, you are required to get a permit. The trees must be old too.
– Thomas on why Rwanda is so green.
Now to the activities we got up to. Before I get to it, I must commend my daughter for her calmness so far. She’s been so great and hasn’t given us any hassle. We were not sure how she’ll react in a new environment but she’s been a good sport and I will definitely be doing a holidaying with baby post. So back to the activities:
THE KIGALI GENOCIDE MUSEUM: I’m not going talk about the Rwandan genocide because everyone knows the story. Get ready for a roller coaster of emotions. All the movies, books and documentaries you’ve come across doesn’t prepare you for this place. You will feel rage, anger, pity, disappointment, sadness, heartbreak, fear, worry, confusion, hatred. And the moment you step out of the museum… everything changes. You see unity, you see togetherness, you see hope. This was the biggest take away for me. The Rwandans have acknowledged their past and are collectively working towards a better future. They are trying hard to ensure there is no going back. And it is working. There are no Tutsis or Hutus anymore, they are just Rwandans. The museum is free and you pay $12 if you want an audio narration. There is also an additional $20 if you want to take photos inside.
The saddest section of the museum for me was the children’s section. They had a little corner dedicated to the children who died during the genocide. As I walked through their enlarged photos, I held my daughter tighter. You definitely wouldn’t come out the same.
HUNT FOR RWANDAN CUISINE: One thing I always do when I travel is try out local food. We headed to Chez John in Kiyovu as recommended by Thomas. It is a nice cozy restaurant which serves Rwandan buffet everyday. I had boiled bananas, boiled cassava leaves, potatoes, beef and fish. My husband wasn’t feeling adventurous. He went with a continental dish from their menu. On my plate, I enjoyed the cassava leaves more than anything else.
INEMA ART CENTER: For people who love art, this quaint little studio located at Kacyiru is definitely a must visit. They had so many great pieces and we got to see an artist at work.
SOUVENIR SHOPPING: We got Rwandan baskets, fridge magnets and scarves from a little souvenir market which looked like it should be in Nigeria. One other thing we got, which everyone should, are these awesome paintings made with cow dung! Do not worry, they don’t stink…till you put it close to your nose!
NYAMIRAMBO WOMEN’S CENTER: We didn’t get the chance to visit because it’s quite a distance from Kigali. However, by an odd stoke of luck, one of the women from the center came to the “green white green” souvenir shops to sell her products and I got to interview her.
KIGALI CONVENTION CENTER: What a beauty! This gorgeous edifice is definitely a sight to behold even if you do not get to go in. We got there at night to see it in all its glory! Light, lights and more lights. We were told the building was modelled after the traditional Rwandan huts. Read more on the building here.
DINNER AT HOTEL RWANDA: So I’m not sure what I was expecting from the hotel but it was really “normal”. I was not expecting another genocide memorial but at least something somewhere that shows us you are the famous Hotel Rwanda. There was nothing and I was mad. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice hotel but I was expecting more. But look on the bright side, they actually have Jollof rice and plantain on their menu.
I loved every bit of our day tour and we are off to another location, Lake Kivu, for day 3 and 4.
*You can read part 1 here.