We made our second return visit to Rwanda for four weeks in Jan and Feb 2010 – having worked in Rwanda until 1975 and visited in 2007.
We were astonished by the progress achieved in Kigali in the last 3 years, both in terms of the expansion of the city and its seeming growth in prosperity. It is also extraordinary that probably alone amongst African capital cities it is so clean.
This comes at a price. Government is firm – some would say too dictatatorial, but as our hosts (Genocide Survivors) said to us, what they are looking for is 1) Security, 2) Security and 3) Security and after that Democracy can follow.
We enjoyed Nyungwe Forest and noticed the near completion of the updating. We didn’t feel the entry permit fee to see the Gorillas made sense in the context of the need to help some of the Projects needing help in the country.
A few practical points.
– Forex Bureaux are ideal for changing US dollar cash.
– We experienced no rash driving as described by Philip, except one European Tour Guide. Roadside Police we found helpful and amusing, but we are able to speak the local language, which may make a difference I guess.
– We are too old in the tooth to hire a ride on the back of a motor bike, but we saw no bike drivers without helmets, both to wear themselves and give to a passenger. Not to comply risks them losing their licence.
– We found the larger buses a good way of getting round Kigali.
– If you want to spend a lot of money on hotels, La Serena in Kigali or Gisenyi (and soon near Nyungwe) will appeal, and how!
– We stayed with the Director of Solace Ministries. Their Guest House, which was omitted from the 4th edition, to my mind boasts the best chef in Kigali. But it is a Church based enterprise, alcohol free, specialising in Ministry to Genocide survivors and orphans. (Described in ‘The men who killed me: Rwandan survivors of sexual violence – de Brouwer et al’ 2009 ISBN 078-1-55365-310-3)
Dr Jeffrey Newth