Kigali, On My Own

The gorilla trek tour was over. I planned to stay around a little longer in Rwanda to see what Kigali was like from a different perspective, so I ended up being an official “wave-good-bye-er” for the others as they departed for their various destinations.

Headed home!

I walked up the hill to a local grocery store, which turned out to have a little cafe in it. I sat down and a waitress brought a menu. Fortunately, the menu had pictures, because the menu was written in Kenyrwanda. She and I figured out what I wanted to order, and then I sat back to watch the people.

The local grocery store, one of them, is by the base of the tall building in the middle of the photo.

Watching people in Kigali revealed that there are many people in Rwanda’s “middle class.” Rwanda has businesses that are starting up, and businesses that are established. It reminded me of Botswana, which a taxi driver described to me as “a middle income” country. Yes, there are poor people. Many. But there are also many students who can afford to go to university, people who can afford to dress in a “middle income” way, and who can afford a car or a motorbike. Their downtown was growing, not in desperate need of repairs.

I passed the district government offices, and was curious about the “pointy thing” that was on top of their building. I discovered that the thing was a representation of a traditional Rwandan basket. When a woman is married, she carries a basket that looks like this, with a pointed lid, which is supposed to carry the wisdom, traditions, and “secrets” of her family to her new family and home. So, I suppose that the district government had this representation on their building to signify a cultural tradition that they were carrying on.

The “pointy thing” on top of the building represents a traditional Rwandan basket that is carried by the bride at her wedding.

I visited the memorial built by the Belgians to remember their soldiers that were lost during the 1994 Genocide. It was a sad loss of young men, who were told to surrender their weapons and they would come to no harm, and were then attacked. They defended their place, but were outnumbered and unable to communicate their need for help.

The memorial built by Belgium for the ten soldiers lost.

There is a pillar for each man. The lines carved into the granite pillars are one for each year of their life, ranging from 18 to 32. There are further details on each pillar so that their families could identify them each.

Twenty-nine years old.
“In memory of” ten young men, “killed in Kigali, April 7, 1994, on a mission for the country of Rwanda. Honored by the Belgian government, April 7, 2000.”
The building where they defended themselves.

I found one of my favorite things – a coffee house, “Beautiful Coffee!” The coffee beans are grown around Lake Kivu, where we had been, and the coffee drinks here were wonderful.

A latte cost 2,500 Rwandan francs, or $2.67 in US currency.

They also had food, served by a co-located but separate business, Kijamii Table. It is a wonderful place, very “Rwandan” – friendly, growing, blooming – and I hope they are doing well. Business is tough to start anywhere. Rwanda is ripe for new business, but fragile as well.

This is from their lunch buffet. Lentil soup, vegetables, and a beef stew.
The view of Kigali from the Beautiful Coffee/Kijamii Table balcony.
The friendly staff of Kijamii Table.

It was time for me to move on soon enough. As always, part of me was anxious to see more, and still sorry to leave where I was.

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