Kigali City is the capital of Rwanda found in its center a country and commonly known for being clean, beautiful, with well-maintained streets as compared to most cities in Africa. Kigali city shares bittersweet experiences due to the different memorial sites in remembrance of the 1994 Rwanda genocide with some more lively spots around Kigali where tourists can experience the culture, hospitality, beautiful scenery in the city and tastes of the Rwandan cuisine.
Experience the quiet and calm atmosphere around Kigali City and have an adventure around the city as you carry out different transactions. The currency used in Kigali is the Rwandan francs and also US dollars ($) are accepted during transactions.
People in Kigali speak French, English, Kinyarwanda, and Swahili as there official languages. However, French is widely used by people in Kigali and in Rwanda in general. English was later introduced as a formal language in Rwanda as a way to fit in with the rest of the global community and it became part of the East African community with countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi. The East African community was formed with the aim of improving relations among member states and for easy trade.
Kigali City is in time zone GMT+2. Rwanda as a country has a nationwide community service day on the last Saturday of every month called Umuganda where roads are closed and cleaning begins. Plastic bags are not allowed in Kigali and Rwanda as a whole and paper bags are used instead.
Transport means around Kigali include taxis and moto-taxis which are commonly used. Other means of transport to access Kigali include flights to Kigali international airport. The flag carrier airline of Rwanda is Rwandair which operates in East, West, Central and South Africa, in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
Different types of tourists are encouraged to visit Kigali city as it offers different tourist experiences due to the variety in tourist destinations that it offers such as; historical sites, hangout spots, shopping centers, restaurants, nightlife, market tours, neighborhood walks and sightseeing spots, cultural expeditions, arts and craft centers, museums, city tours, festivals and so many other potential tourist sites.
Historical sites in Kigali include;
- Kigali memorial center. This is a resting place of over 250000 victims of the Rwanda genocide. The memorial center was built where the victims’ bodies were buried. Kigali memorial center is a reminder of the cruelties which took place in Rwanda in 1994 and people who lost their loved ones go to the memorial center to spend time with their loved ones. Students visit the memorial center to know more about the genocide and the effects of the mass killings. Kigali memorial center consists of three exhibitions which are; the permanent exhibition, the children’s memorial and an exhibition on the history of genocidal violence around the world.
- Belgian soldiers’ memorial site. This site is where all of the Belgian soldiers who were protecting president Habyarimana’s wife were killed. The then president’s wife called Madame Agathe Uwiligiyimana hated the Tutsi people and was being protected by these Belgian soldiers. The bullet holes at the site are still there and during the shooting of the soldiers Madame Agathe was also killed.
- Hotel Mille des Collines. Also known as Hotel Rwanda inspired the movie Hotel Rwanda which showed the hotel as being a hiding place for some of the Tutsi during the genocide which saved many of their lives with help from Mr. Paul Rusesabagina who was put in charge of the hotel.
- Presidential palace museum. This memorial site shows where the wreckage of president Habyarimana’s plane can be found. The plane crash which killed the then president of Rwanda was one of the triggers of the 1994 Rwanda genocide as it created hatred among the Hutu and the Tutsi people.
- Gorilla statue. This statue marks Rwanda’s tourism resource and is found in the Kigali city center at one of the roundabouts in the city. The statue is of a male and female gorilla and it represents the great value attached to gorillas by the world. The statue was part of the festivities in Rwanda which included the gorilla naming ceremony.
- Kandt house museum. The museum was home to the first Belgian colonial governor of Rwanda called Richard Kandt. The museum was formerly known as the Kandt house museum of natural history and is dedicated to representing the evolution of the ground, animals, plants and the interdependency between people and their environment.
- Sainte-Famille Church. This is the Catholic Church where many Hutu and Tutsi took refuge and were murdered during the genocide. Following this event, many of the people in Rwanda converted to Islam since the priest at this Catholic Church helped the Hutu armed men to kill the people in the church.
- Nyanza genocide memorial. This memorial has four mass graves of Tutsi people who had taken refuge at Ecole Technique Officielle grounds and were killed because the grounds were left unprotected following the killing of the Belgian soldiers who were protecting the then president’s wife a happening which scared other Belgian soldiers.
Kigali City is also known for the arts and crafts centers found around the city which attracts many tourists to visit Kigali. Art and crafts centers in Kigali include Inema arts center, Kigali arts center among others.
Shopping spots around Kigali include Rwanda culture, Kigali cultural village, Haute Baso, House of Tayo, The shop, Abraham Konga, and Kimironko market.
To enjoy the Rwandan cuisine and learn how to prepare Rwandan food and the best restaurants include Repub Lounge, Heaven restaurant, Fusion, Poivre Noir, Meze fresh, and Fantastic restaurant among others.
For fun lovers and tourists seeking entertainment, hangout spots around Kigali include the Pilipili, Hotel Mille des Collines, Question coffee, Inzora rooftop cafe, and Ikirezi bookshop among others.
Neighborhood tours are also available in Kigali which involves visiting the Nyamirambo area one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rwanda. This neighborhood tour involves moving around different homesteads in Nyamirambo to learn the Rwandan way of life, how food is prepared and served and businesses around the neighborhood. The neighborhood tour also involves a trip to the local market to buy the ingredients for preparing the Rwandan cuisine. The tour is offered by Nyamirambo women’s center (NWC).
Other attractions in Kigali include Nyarugenge hill, Kacyiru hill, Nyaturama Lake among others.
Kigali is a city worth visiting to experience the hospitality of the Rwandan people, their culture and way of life, local cuisines, art, and crafts as well as their traditions. Share the memories of the thousands of Hutu and Tutsi lost during the Rwanda genocide and witness the hope for a better and peaceful future evident in the general appearance of Kigali and the smiles of the Rwandese as you enjoy the journey to the land of a thousand hills.