Rwanda in 4 days?

2 Nov

Our East African Pioneers Conference (which I organized last year in Kenya) this year took place in Rwanda. Kigali is “only a busride” away from Kampala and so I am just on the way back from amazing four days in Rwanda.

How was it?

Hilly. That is one thing that everybody says about Rwanda. And it is true. The city is a connection of different villages and on hills and in valleys. Rich Areas in one valley, on the other side a totally different view on a new type of city. A slum-ish settlement on the other hill, just 5 minutes later we pass a shopping mall with a Nakumatt.

Confusing. Being french colonized Rwandans drive on the right side of the road. Of course half of the busses and matatus are from left-side-countries, so the confusion (in my head) is high. The traffic is much more organized than in Kampala or Kenya. Still the boda-bodas create chaos, at least twice per day when crossing a road we were nearly knocked.

The food really didnt go well with my stomach. Although we were served similarly as in Uganda (Matoke, Rice and Pasta, covered with beans or ground nut sauce with meat), I developed a crampy stomach ache over the last days and I am not the only who is still fighting with a bloated tumbo.

International. From the first view there are many whites around. Rwanda is working on becoming an IT hub in East and Central Africa an the Rwanda Development Board is coordinating the knowledge transfer and facilitates business settlement.

The language chaos is amazing and just with combined efforts of Ugandans, Kenyans and me we were able to find our way through. As much as few people on the street speak English, Kiswahili was understood by many more. I had planned to practise my French but either something was wrong with my accent or with their ears.

Somehow we felt like in Nairobi, when the main language in the taxi was Swahili. If the driver could have just sat on the right side 🙂

Friendly. I felt very very welcome. Firstly being a german citizen, I did not pay visa fees, which is a first amongst the 6 African countries I visited. Not only did the alumni and members of AIESEC welcome us with open arms and big words but also in the neighborhood where we stayed for the last night the neighbours, shop dealers and kids greeted us without great expectations (In Uganda we often hear: “Buy me sweets”).

The conference was great, proud to say we had 70 Kenyan delegates, 20 Ugandan and 30 Tanzanians. AIESEC in Rwanda, being a young country, had 15 of their members attending but also 10 memers to organize the whole event. We had an adorable Chair, a former MCP of Cameroon, who also worked in AIESEC International for one year. Now he works as consultant and lives with his french wife and two kids in Rwanda.

Rwanda in 4 days?

A great first glance into a country, no chance of understanding a lot of the complex past or the current political situation. But definitely a great experience and I am sure that I will take the next invitation and spend a week.


One Response to “Rwanda in 4 days?”

  1. ArA NaSHerA December 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    Rwanda îs not in East Africa 🙂 but a Central African country in the East African Community.. So much of her organized nature is mainly due to the Rwandan culture and tradition that historx finds them in an organized traditional governance system.
    Umuganda a communial way of cooperation makes Rwanda what it is today.
    As Manu has experienced just but an intro to this nation, a longer stay would definately help.

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