Tuesday, March 25, 2008

impressions of my new favourite african capital

(march 23, 2008)

my first impressions of rwanda are that it is indeed the land of a thousand hills and that i’ve never been to a country as green (although even with my magnetism to irish men, i’ve yet to make it to ireland, but i bet rwanda give it a run for it’s green money).
when i first arrived, i couldn’t help by wonder though, who was who, was here during the genocide, and who has returned since. i couldn’t help but look at people’s faces and wonder if they were hutus or tutsis (or h’s and t’s as i’ve heard people say because today, they are all to be considered rwandans). i wondered how exhausting it must feel to be constantly confronted with the country’s ethnic division and history. then i realised that you just get on with it. because the country’s present and future are just as fascinating as its history.

kigali is thus far the cleanest and most beautiful african city i have visited (usurping arusha, my previous favourite) and it is incredibly photogenic. the entire city spills over and up and down the hills and houses are built right into the sides of the hills that give this country its name.

as an expat in this whole thing we call development, i was always ask myself if i could live here, where ever ‘here’ is at that moment. my answer in kigali so far is yes. although it might become monotonous – the landscape, the limited amount of entertainment options, and the greyness that sets into these hills on overcast days. but the city is safe, using plastic bags is against the law, the roads make sense, and i’ve located a coffeehouse that rivals its kenyan counterparts (being nairobi java house and dormans, but of course) with its rwandan twist on the concept made famous and profitable by starbucks.
as in kenya, a photo of the current president graces the walls of all business establishments in rwanda. but unlike kenya, people here seem to revere their leader, paul kagame, and as far as i can tell, i would if i were rwandan. i think i still do even though i am not.

keep your eye on rwanda, i think this place will continue to capture an audience and not just for their gorillas. oh, but the gorillas...!

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