The sights of Kigali, Rwanda.

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Just one of the dozens of sewing machines that were busy working away at the Kimironko Market in Kigali.

Given the past history of this country, these words from the incumbent President send a message of hope and reconciliation. The country has slowly turned itself around in the 25 years since the Genocide and as far as this writer is concerned, Kigali should be utilized as a template for all other major African cities. That being said, there might still be areas of concern that the President is working to resolving, but that outside visitors are not aware of.

Looking for a sensory overload without the use of chemicals? Then a visit to the Kimironko Market should be on your list. Garments made on the spot by dozens of seamstresses busy on old-fashioned Singer sewing machines…and more fruit and veg than you can wish for. Many of the items, like Tree Tomatoes and Plantain I have not seen in South Africa before, but I have now tasted both on this visit to Rwanda. The former in a smoothie and the latter with an evening meal. These markets can become claustrophobic as you are assailed by stall-holders trying to attract your attention…and your money. Bargaining is the name of the game here and my interactions with several of the locals left smiles on both their faces and mine. And, of course, money in their wallets. All the ‘haggling’ was done with a lot of hand signals as English was not spoken by all the locals that we interacted with.

All together now…”What is Rwanda famous for”? And the answer is COFFEE. This coffee shop is called Question and is staffed entirely by women. Not only that, their coffee is supplied by some of the more than 30000 female coffee farmers in Rwanda. We stopped here long enough to sample their cappuccinos, which were delicious, and to take away enough coffee to fill our suitcases. Coffee masterclasses are held here where participants can learn about the subtilties not only between the product but from the various regions in Rwanda as well. Well worth a visit.

This is one for two art galleries that were visited on our city tour. The Ivuka Art Centre is situated off the main tourist routes but if you are looking for local art, produced by local artists then THIS is where you should be. My wife and I added to our art collection with a piece from Partick (the tall fellow next to the long painting) while our travelling companions took home a work by self-taught artist, Chislon( standing next to the easel) The latter is working on a project where a portion of the money he makes from the sale of his art will be used to fund the prevention of Elephant poaching. The work here is bold, bright and utilizes a variety of recycled materials to produce the works that are on sale. Take home an authentic piece of local art at a reasonable price. Recommended.

This is the second gallery, The Inema Art Centre, started by the Nkuranga brothers, the works here are LARGE and very expensive. The gorilla, which is the showpiece of the gallery has a $50000 price tag. The price does include shipping, insurance and customs clearance! Named “Living Treasure”, it is by Emmanuel Nkuranga and is comprised of computer parts as Rwanda is the world’s largest exporter of Coltan, the core component of computer processors.

Fact: With permits to visit the Gorillas now costing about $1800.00 per person, this was the closest that I was going to get to the full-size animal!

A visit to the new Campaign Against Genocide Museum in the Gasabo district is a must. Opened in 2017, this facility offers an in-depth overview of what happened both before and after the 100 days that comprised the actual genocide in 1994. Photography is not permitted inside the museum, however, visitors are allowed to photograph the exterior and the statues in the gardens that surround both the museum and the Parliament building to which it is attached.

The building together with the 600 troops stationed here was under siege during the 100 days of the genocide. This wall is a testament to the fact that the building came under some very heavy. large calibre fire.

A statue commemorating the soldiers who fell during the Genocide of 1994. A deeply moving tribute to lives lost in the pursuit of freedom for all in this African country.

An evening view as the sun sets over the city. A perfect ending to a day filled with excitement and emotions. Kigali is a city that once visited, will NOT be easily forgotten.

Travel and Things flew to Rwanda on RwandAir. The airline flies to a variety of African as well as international destinations and those routes can be found on their website.

Travel and Things stayed at this delightful guest house for the first part of the trip to Rwanda. Highly recommended on a variety of travel sites, The Nest offers reasonably priced comfortable accommodation and breakfasts.

This day tour of Kigali was organised by Martin Muyenzi and his tour company.

And finally, at the end of the trip, Travel and Things will be hosted by the Serena Hotels both at their Lake Kivu as well as Kigali properties. Having visited both previously, I am certainly looking forward to my return visit.

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