Rwanda: 4 days of a thou­sand

Daily Trust - - STAR FEATURE - Trans­parency In­ter­na­tional says that Rwanda is the least cor­rupt am

It may shock many, but I per­ceive that I have been pre­par­ing to travel to Rwanda for about ten years now. This sounds like a long time to pre­pare for a trip, but let’s calmly look at how this in­ter­est­ing fact came about. For about a decade, I have been ea­gerly read­ing lit­er­a­ture on that coun­try’s 1994 geno­cide, and watch­ing all the rel­e­vant films, in­clud­ing Ho­tel Rwanda and Some­time in April. The lat­ter film, apart from its grip­ping story line, drew my at­ten­tion to Rwanda’s pow­er­ful and mes­mer­iz­ing mu­si­cal her­itage, which I will ex­plore very soon. Early this year I bought Shoot­ing Dogs in Abuja, an­other film which is a stun­ning eye opener on Rwanda, and also drew my at­ten­tion once more to Rwan­dan mu­sic. Ho­tel Rwanda in­stantly shocked me to the core, and makes me quite sober when­ever I watch it. Some­how, I al­ways want to watch Ho­tel Rwanda over and over. I guess this must also be due to the ex­cel­lent act­ing and the great story cap­tured there. But I have just bought Shak­ing hands with the Devil, a ma­jor award win­ning work on the events of 1994, as well as 100 days, a film on the same tragic event in that coun­try. I am amazed at how faith­fully I have gath­ered in­for­ma­tion on Rwanda, with great at­ten­tion to all the tiny de­tails too, also be­com­ing an ad­mirer of Pres­i­dent Kagame in the process, and lik­ing the coun­try of 11 mil­lion per­sons and its 1,000 hills, very much. It was as though hav­ing care­fully watched films, mak­ing notes and read­ing books, I had been un­con­sciously pre­par­ing for a trip to the coun­try. Some may say that they have read these books, and watched all these films, and that, there­fore, they too have been pre­par­ing for such a trip. The sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence, how­ever, is that I did not only pre­pare which was done in an un­con­scious man­ner, I ac­tu­ally made the trip to Rwanda af­ter hav­ing done all the read­ing on the sub­ject.

All of a sud­den a few weeks ago, I felt strongly that I should go to Rwanda to do a num­ber of sto­ries re­lat­ing to the 1994 geno­cide ,and I wrote a brief memo to Me­dia Trust. Af­ter spend­ing one night in Ad­dis Ababa, I fi­nally found my­self look­ing at a num­ber of en­chant­ing hills just out­side Ki­gali, around which clouds floated. They seemed to wel­come you as the plane made its fi­nal de­scent into the Ki­gali air­port. Rwanda is de­scribed as the land of a thou­sand hills, and this is a very apt de­scrip­tion. I am fond of hills too, and I guess, in this con­text, I was just go­ing home by trav­el­ling to Rwanda. Once done with the air­port for­mal­i­ties, I now headed into Ki­gali and a very im­pres­sive sight con­fronted me. This is a cap­i­tal set within some of the loveli­est hills in Africa, and the cap­i­tal is care­fully built around these high forms. Once you are out of your ho­tel, you ei­ther move up or you go down. You re­ally have no op­tion. This is be­cause of the un­du­lat­ing na­ture of the land­scape, which gives the vis­i­tor spec­tac­u­lar views of the cap­i­tal. You can look down at Ki­gali from a hill­top, or you could gaze in won­der at the cap­i­tal up there from one of the many deep val­leys. From a height the houses look like specks, and the en­tire land­scape is one un­fold­ing se­quence of beauty. I al­ways liked to stand by my ho­tel gate, and watch the road in front of it slope down­wards, and to peer into the nearby val­ley, and look at the houses on the nearby hill. It is such a mar­velous sight when viewed early in the morn­ing, at noon or at twi­light. This is a scene repli­cated all over Ki­gali, mak­ing it a very spe­cial cap­i­tal. When I ar­rived Nigeria on the morn­ing of the Nyanya bomb­ing, I im­me­di­ately went back in spirit to those val­leys and hills. It was a spon­ta­neous men­tal flight. This was be­cause the first text I re­ceived upon ar­riv­ing in­quired “Where are you? Have you heard of the bomb­ing?” When you gaze at the hills so de­scribed, you also shud­der when you re­call that these friendly hills played host to the geno­cide which elim­i­nated some 1 mil­lion Rwan­dans in 1994 within a pe­riod of 100 days.

Two lady’s sur­prised me in Ki­gali ,and this was on ac­count of the dif­fer­ent ques­tions they asked me. The first whom I met in a min­istry there, sud­denly asked me if I am a Rwan­dan, ob­vi­ously see­ing some sim­i­lar­i­ties. I an­swered in the neg­a­tive, and I no­ticed her sur­prise. The next lady was a staff of the ho­tel I resided in. Af­ter peep­ing at me for sev­eral days,she found strength and asked if I am the lead char­ac­ter in the film Ho­tel Rwanda, say­ing that the re­sem­blance is very close. Of course, I an­swered in the neg­a­tive. Later, I won­dered if all those books and films I had ear­lier read or watched so in­tensely, had now en­dowed me with Rwan­dan type fea­tures. While in Ki­gali I quickly learnt to make use of the commercial mo­tor­cy­cles, in­stead of the taxis while go­ing around the cap­i­tal. If you travel just a lit­tle dis­tance, you may be asked to pay 4,000 Rwan­dan Francs if you are in a taxi. On a mo­tor­cy­cle, you will pay 600 Francs for ex­actly the same dis­tance. One thing I never liked while on the mo­tor­cy­cle was when we had to go up a hill, and this was slow and some­times a bit

This neat city is set within lovely hills.

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