Kigali is an absolute stunner

Irene Shone BG Correspondent
Thursday, 20 September 2018
Kigali is an absolute stunner

At about 12:00 pm last week Tuesday, I checked in at Sir Seretse Khama International Airport as my journey to Rwanda began. I boarded with the lovely Ethiopian Airlines (ET 829) as we flew for the next six and half hours to reach Bole International Airport, Ethiopia.
This was my first ever-longest time spent on an aircraft. My longest has always been four hours of Joburg-Kenya destination.

So this was my first longest trip on air and I enjoyed it. I was even delighted to learn that we pass through the Victoria Falls space on the way to Ethiopia. Victoria Falls is one of the places close to my heart. I kept dozing throughout the long journey while sometimes I would be awakened by the excitement noise of a group of local students who were on their way to Israel for studying. They were First year students.

I just couldn’t wait to see Rwanda and immediately find out what the African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) 2018 had in store for me. Before I knew it, we were in Addis Ababa’s Bole Airport and I was nervous my flight might leave me as we had a delay from Botswana. The airport was also yet another experience, so big and fully congested. Well, I quickly rushed to my boarding gate to avoid being left behind and thank God I nailed the time.

I wore a big smile on my face as I was now boldly ready to see Kigali, the new city whose beauty I have heard of from other East African countries that I have been to. Three hours down the line I was in Kigali Airport and all I could feel was the ambience of love and calmness. I immediately realised that security was tight. For a few minutes I freaked out but immediately thought I was in a protected place.

I recoiled at the memory of the 1994 genocide. Anyway, things have changed and the immaculate city of Kigali beautifully surrounded by the hills just boasts of peace. The neatness just made me call the city a paperless city. Of course the country has banned the use of plastics and this factor alone contributes to the cleanliness of the city.

I reached Kigali at exactly 00:30 am and headed to Hotel Chez Lando. What I saw that night definitely matched what I have heard of. The city sprawls across numerous hills, ridges and valleys and it looks like the background of the city was created just to boast.
From the road, I enjoyed the view of the buildings, which looked as if it was sloping with those shimmering lights that provoked the beautiful city’s image.

I still couldn’t wait to wake up and get to Kigali Convention Centre where the proceedings of the conference were held. I have heard so much about it and it was indeed impressive. The convention centre absorbed us all in its enormous space, and mind you, we were over 2000 from across Africa.

We don’t have such a facility in Botswana and I was tipped it is actually the second largest after the one in Addis Ababa while some argued that Kenya Convention Centre is also that big. On the second day of the event, with my team of journalists from 13 other countries spooned by Thompson Reuters leadership, we visited Kagitarama village in Muhanga District. Clearly, the country is beautiful and clean; we still noted this on the way to the fields.

Those lovely, open green spaces really fascinated me especially since it was drizzling and that fresh smell just made my day. I also spared some time to visit Kigali Memorial Centre and Nyamata Genocide Memorial.I was so touched at this place, there are so many disheartening stories on how people died during the genocide, but thank God the country has just positively transformed to be a peaceful place.

I literally shed a remorseful tear when I saw those clothes some stained in blood that were preserved after the dead were buried.  I was glad that the memorial centres are there to show the world the difficult path that the country once faced. At Nyamata, I was also deeply hurt when they explained to me about one tombstone that belonged to an 18-year-old girl who was painfully killed with a stick that was shoved from her mouth and let out through her excretory passage.

She died a very painful death her killer did not only kill her that way. He was an HIV positive man and he also raped her. Seeing those skulls of the deceased piled up there also ripped off one’s soul. A lot more painful stories from these centres may be shared but I am so glad the country is now fine. There is actually a police offices about three meters apart at the malls, just to ensure that people in the city are safe at all times.

On my way back, we made a stop over at Victoria Falls airport where we waited for an hour before we proceeded to my capital city, Gaborone. I enjoyed the landscape that I saw from above, it looked dry but there was just something about the glimpse.My travel to Kigali was indeed insightful as I have learnt a lot from the forum and also had an opportunity to be in the midst of my continent’s leaders.

The renowned Tony Blair also graced this occasion, and from Botswana, Former Governor of Bank of Botswana Linah Mohohlo, the youthful Naledi Magowe and Liberty Mtetwa also attended the forum to talk technology in Agriculture.

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