A few Impressions of Kigali

Kigali is a city with a bit over 1 billion inhabitants, located in the centre of Rwanda. Like the whole country it is marked by being build on top of various hills which leads to a lot of nice spots to look at the city.

As you are walking down the streets you will be passed by the 2 main vehicles of transportation.
One are the mototaxis driven by motares, which take you anywhere around the city from 300 to 1500 Frw (about 40 cents to 2 €). All of the Motare are men. I am still waiting for the day to find a female taxi driver, but I guess the taxi driving business is man-dominated in most parts of the world.
The second means of transport are small to medium busses which are usually called taxis (whereas the mototaxis are called motos). Taking these taxis can be exhausting as they stop quite often and they can get caught up in traffic, but it is more of a challenge then taking the moto. It is also cheaper (you pay about 20cents for one ride) and I am trying to take them more often.
The only difficult thing is that I don’t know the different stops yet and also it is a little challenge of knowing where the busses go. You will stand at the side of the road and then a guy will yell out the bus direction out of the window. When once you are inside and you want to get out at the next stop you just knock on the door. To my surprise, my beloved Alessa, who is still sharing her room with me told me that the busses have numbers, which actually refer to the direction that they are going. I was quite stunned by this revelation and from now on I will try to pay attention to the numbers.

The distances in Kigali can be quite far as the city stretches out. Except from a few business and banking towers in the city center, most buildings only have one story. In Addition, to this there are few apartments in Kigali. Almost everybody has their own house. Some are more modern or better-equipped than others but what it ends up to is that there is a lot of space used for living. Some parts of Kigali are dominated by modern buildings and asphalt roads. Though, when you walk away from the main streets, it can feel like you come into a village. You can find little corner stores for everyday needs and you can see people on the streets cooking chapatis (a kind of breadlike pancake) and other meals on charcoal stoves. I enjoy walking around these areas, as they let you escape from the urban hectic.

The word for white people here is Muzungu which a lot of kids but also adults will use when they see you on the streets. It can often lead to a fast repetitive choir, when there are a lot of kids around. For now I always react with the few words of Kinyarwanda I know as if to pretend that I am not a normal Muzungu but a cool Muzungu. Most people enjoy it when I great them in Kinyarwanda and it is quite helpful if you want to pay less when buying anything or taking a moto.

One of the most beautiful images is Kigali at night. When the light cool breeze blows through your body and your looking down at a sea of lights. There is a feeling, a deep desire that develops. It makes me feel like wanting to run to the end of a cliff and just jump down. I am trying to imagine how it would feel. Jumping in this pool of bright spots that illuminate the various hills.

“With your feet in the air, and you’re head on the ground”


3 thoughts on “A few Impressions of Kigali

  1. Mein lieber Leo, wie poetisch! und es erinnert mich an meine ersten Abende in Ouagadougou, die Kühle, der Dunst der Stadt, das wahnsinnig Fremde. Wie geht`s weiter? Ich bin gespannt auf den nächsten Aufschschnitt! Es grüßt die Mamma


    1. Of course, the NISR is a very trustworthy government institution. I’m sure they drank 2 litres of milk whenever conducting this census, so it must be true.


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