Published: November 15th 2010September 21st 2010
Kigali is the capital of Rwanda and has about 1million inhabitants. It is very built up compared to the densely populated farmland elsewhere in the country. There are many multi storey hotels and large 24hr shopping centres. The internet connections are fast but there is only one international visa ATM which doesn't even work with all visa cards. We stay in the Okapi Hotel, but as usual get one of the worst rooms. This time we struggle for running water!
Our first mission in Kigali is getting a Congolese visa, the situation has recently changed and you can no longer get a visa at the border for $35, instead we have to pay $20 to fill out the form, $120 for the visa and $25 for the express next day service!! It also requires many photocopies; the cover of our passport, the info page of our passport, the Rwandan visa stamp in our passport, our yellow fever certificate and a copy of the front of a credit card.
After our admin is complete we go to the Bourbon Coffee Shop to check out the local life. It could easily be a western coffee shop chain, it has Rwandan coffee and tea
which we've seen growing all over the country and great food too.
After a short rest we visit the Genocide Memorial Museum. This has free entry but 5000shillings for an audio guide which is half for admin costs and half as a donation. The museum is incredibly moving as it follows the story from the Belgian rule, the premeditation, the mass murder of a million people in 100days to the aftermath of how the country recovered. The issues began when the Belgians decided to divide the Rwandans into a class system based on ethnic differences and situations, those with 10 or more cows were considered better and named Tutsis, people with less than 10 cows, which were the majority were named Hutus, and the Twa who were the pygmys. The Belgians deemed the minority Tutsis to be higher class and gave them more prestigious roles such as doctors, scientists and teachers. In 1956 the Rwandans wanted independence and the Hutus became the stronger community, many Tutsis were killed or fled to neighbouring countries for protection. In 1962, under a Hutu Prime Minister the Tutsi were given strict regulations. There were quotas on the number of Tutsi allowed in powerful or
highly paid jobs and the propaganda began to keep the divide strong. People were taught not to mix with the Tutsi, either through friendship, partnership or business and tensions were heightened. Habyarimana came to power and started by trying to remove the divide between the Rwandans but this soon changed so that he could remain in power. In 1994, a plane carrying Habyarimana and the Burundian President was shot down, no-one claimed responsibility for this but it was the trigger for the beginning of the genocide. Simultaneously the army was ready around the country to incite the murder of Tutsis. Hutus were forced to kill Tutsis or be killed themselves as a Tutsi supporter, even children took part in the murders. 1 million people were murdered in those 100 days, on top of the thousands that had been murdered in the years leading up to the genocide. Men, women and children, even babies were butchered in the streets and in their homes, even while seeking refuge in churches.
In the aftermath many people were tried for their crimes in Arusha, Tanzania, but many fled into exile before this could happen. Eventually the safety and security returned and the millions of
refuges could return back to Rwanda. The country is relatively safe now and recovering extremely quickly. Outside the museum are many mass graves of the Kigali victims, this makes the information all the more real.
After a very heavy afternoon we continue to the Hotel Milles Collines, which is the actual hotel where Paul Rusesabagina housed many Tutsi and Hutu during the genocide, as portrayed in the film Hotel Rwanda. It is a very expensive hotel full of business men and posh tourists, but does very poor quality food and cocktails. A storm hits as we are there and huge hailstones cover the grass, amazing seeing as it has been hot and sunny all morning.
There are more photos below