Can you handle ‘The’ Kigali

Since mayors are elected not hired, we don’t get feisty kids who grew up in Lagos, Jo-burg or New York City for Mayors. We get God fearing, decent family people, straight from the ‘hood’. Luckily they don’t run this town; we do!

You see, people don’t visit cities because of the niceness of their citizens, the affordability of their hotels and restaurants. Some of the most visited cities in the world have citizens with the poorest of reputations, and are the most expensive. Before people visit a city, they don’t first inquire about – say, the transport system, the life expectancy, the agriculture productivity, the tax policy, the government system, or any other in-house nitty-gritty.

We visit cites because of how they are presented to us!


It is very hard for an African city to break through and position itself as a preferential global destination. We aren’t presented through our natural beauty and our human talents. We are always portrayed through our nitty-gritty or our bitter pasts; as if anyone would still like to go to Paris, after we’d posted pictures of its metro stations, with stories like: ‘In spite of being under Nazi occupation only 50 years or so ago, the city of Paris is bustling into life. A lot remains to be done however, to address its underground banditry, misery and sanitation…’


Aware that that is how we are to be portrayed, we worked on the nitty gritty first, and according to the UN, Rwanda is the country that has accomplished the highest human development in the last 25 years, just followed by China. Please be advised that this isn’t infrastructure, it isn’t GDP; this is ‘Human evolving’. In other words, in the last 25 years Rwandans have improved their livelihood, became more educated, more life expectant, less unequal, more enlightened and aspiring. And they have done that faster than any other Humans of the world.

Which brings me to those who really run this town; the insurgents, the feisty, the crazy ones.

There are the ‘Three Erics’: The DJ Soul, the rapper One Key and the Film guru Kabera and his Rwanda Film Festival. There are the painters Inno and Emma of Inema Art Centre. There is Hope and the Mashirika artists of Ubumuntu Festival, Judo and the Mighty Popo of Kigali Up Music fest. There are the Young geeks of Women in ICT and Tech Women, Stever of the Hub. Here is to the Dianas’ music and Spoken Word Rwanda.. Have I forgotten many tigers and tigresses? Good!


Now, when you call yourself ‘Innovation Village’, you are sending a loud message! These fearless young humans of Kigali are innovating. Their work is vindicating our history, our identity. They have just launched the Journal: A storytelling platform that introduces the world to Rwanda’s finest talent, art and craft. Their genius lies in fusing art, utility and attractiveness. They will finally manage to draw teenagers, both in age or mind, back to Rwandan roots.


I kept the best for last; the people at Illume Photography, and this time one of them in particular; Gael Ruboneka Vande Weghe. Gael has teamed up with Akagera Aviation to present to us: Kigali, like we’ve never seen it before. Gael’s photos have changed the outlook of African Cities for good and forever. Dear Gael, your photos have warmed the hearts of every one who loves Rwanda, everyone who loves Africa. I am sure I am speaking for most, when I say: Thank you…


So as Gael’s photos indicate (This is going to be my premise for a very long time), you can fulfill your dreams here. People are nice. You can make money, educate your children, get enlightened, entertained and remain connected to the world.



By entertainment I don’t mean only noisy bars. We aren’t trying to be another city you have visited. In Kigali we offer niche entertainment. We believe entertainment is art, culture, hospitality, cuisine, discovery, wild life. Entertainment is interesting encounters and challenging interactions. In fact people with the money and the brains don’t like the noise. Which is why they choose Kigali. It is entertaining, only for the curious and rich minds…


I know our sisters have the reputation of being pretty; don’t get any ideas, we aren’t a whorehouse. To protect women, prostitution isn’t criminalized here; but it is strongly frowned upon. We aren’t possessive either, as in ‘don’t come here and marry our sisters’. First they aren’t our possession, trust me… They are free-spirited global citizens, with a touch of Rwandan culture. Any decent man with the appropriate manners and attitude can marry them. So that type of entertainment too is off the menu.

There are noisy clubs like People’s, Le Must, K-Club, and even noisier and more decadent ones in Nyamirambo, Remera and down town, but that’s not what Gael’s photo are showcasing. They are introducing you to a world class city; a city of dreams…

He is the only one who has done it justice. He’s succeed in capturing Kigali’s greenness, safeness and freshness, while the rest of us, are still trying to adjust to the vibrant metropolitan biosphere that Kigali has become!


When Eric Kabera saw the pictures, he said he will prize Gael with a Sylverback Award for Best Photographer in the upcoming Rwanda Film Festival. As for me I have only words to give, so here is to Gael, the Crazy one; a quote, which I first saw at Innovation Village – of course… It was written by Rob Siltanen, Apple’s creative Director:


Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.


For the full experience of Gael’s photo’s, here is the link: