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History, Cleanliness & Simplicity! Lessons From NaijaNomads Trip to Rwanda

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Yes, Rwanda!

I remember when I was telling people “I’m going to Rwanda in June”. I got all sorts of reactions. From “Oh yea, Rwanda!” to “Rwanda ke? Genocide! Hutu! Tutsi! Is there no war there? Why Rwanda? Be careful oh”

It’s just so funny how people tend to define you by one chapter of your life [especially the unpleasant ones] but as the quote rightly reads, the world is a book and those who do not travel only read a page.

Super too-glad-for-words that I did go to Rwanda! [Honestly I was even low-key praying for Rwandan husband!] I really cannot wait to visit again and again! #YesItWasThatGoooood !

Here are five of my take-aways from Rwanda:

Our Past does not have to determine our present…
…except we give it power to! This was/is a lesson to self and to country too. Of course, I couldn’t visit Rwanda without making findings about the genocide [we all grew up watching Hotel Rwanda and Sometimes in April] so we visited the Kigali Genocide Center and it was… all shades of SAD and AMAZING! Sad because: how did this happen on the world’s watch? How on earth did people of the same country- neighbours, friends, colleagues, lovers turn on each other??? SIGH! That’s a story to tell another time, but it was so so amazing to see what had become of Rwanda, following that horror! Indeed, it was/is a tale of breath-taking beauty from the ashes!

Faces. At the Kigali Genocide Memorial

This reminds me of the Nigerian history-still-happening. Talking about the Civil War down to the current Biafra/Igbo’s must leave the North saga. Nigerians can we move past the past?! The Rwandan genocide led to the death of about a million people in 100 days. It was such a horrible time and maybe they’ll never forget but they have refused to let the dark times keep them captive! Rwanda has moved on, why can’t we? Our past, really, does not have to dictate our present. NO TO TRIBALISM! It begins with you, and me.

At the burial site of the victims of the genocide…

Clean Up Nigeria
Yes, Clean up, we can! Did you know that KIGALI is the cleanest and safest city in Africa? YES! You can literally sleep on the streets in Kigali. You are not allowed to drop trash on the streets [there are bins everywhere] or walk on the grass/lawns. If you flout this order, you pay a fine of about Rwf10,000 [about $12] or engage in community service. As a multiple offender, jail is your lot!  Just kidding!

The most beautiful part of this is that it’s no longer an order to the people of Rwanda, it’s a culture! They find it abnormal to throw things on the floor and would hold-on to their trash until they get to the nearest bin. Plastic bags are also not allowed in Rwanda, Paper bags are used instead and every last Saturday monthly, the citizens of Rwanda beginning with the President engage in Umuganda [a mandatory community service]. Is the Nigerian in you wondering “how will they catch me if I throw trash on the ground??” well, we were curious too, but no one wanted to be a scapegoat.

Sleeping on the streets of Kigali… thank you @folaswaka for the photo! 😀

Talk about Law and Order…
Mention Rwanda! I mentioned in Point 2 that Rwanda was the safest city in Africa, Yes Sir! Almost at every junction, you find a policemen, low-key observing.

The speed limit in Rwanda is mostly 40km/hour [Yup, they don’t rush anywhere]. I remember one time we were asking our driver why he couldn’t “move” [he was just too slow for a Nigerian abeg, plus we were hurrying to catch a bus back home]. He replied by saying sorry, he couldn’t go past his speed limit and we shouldn’t worry about being late, we wouldn’t be! He was right, we were just in time! Rwandans are so patient!

Scenario two was the morning we were headed back to Nigeria. We were almost running late- it was an hour to flight take off. Our taxi driver didn’t show up so we had to call another cab. When the cabs arrived, they could only take 8 people conveniently [our taxi guy usually had sienna-like cabs that took all 9 of us]. Well, we had no choice, running late so we had to squeeze into the cab. Do you know that when we got to the airport, we had to pay a fine of Rwf10,000 for the extra one person that squeezed in the taxi?! We didn’t believe it! We were breaking the laws and we had to pay! No argument, No pleas, it was just what it was: Law and Order. Obey or be fined!

Customer is King
Can I take a moment to gush about how pleasant Rwandans generally are?!!! So we met this amazing guy, Benjamin, in Gisenyi. The day before, we had called Benjamin to say we’ll be arriving Gisenyi from Kigali and he was to be our pick-up guy/tour guide. That’s how Benjamin called by 6pm that he hadn’t seen us and he’d been waiting at the bus park since 2pm!!! We were like huh??? It happened that there was a “mix-up” of English Language there.

We felt so sorry for Benjamin and duly apologised. Next thing, we got a message from Benjamin saying he was so sorry for the mix up and he couldn’t wait to have us the next day. We were like: If this was a Nigerian, he would’ve rained curses on our grandparents by now … We arrived Gisenyi the next day and long-story-short, Benjamin remains the most amazing soul we met in Rwanda!! All shades of LOVE for the young man!

Benjamin!!! BAE!

Rwandans generally are patient and courteous. Whenever they rendered a service, they were all so nice and pleasant. Learnt something about customer service there; your customer is always right; treat them well!

Less is More
Last but not the least; The Kigali International Airport is so small [perhaps one of the smallest] but highly functional! Talk about free non-passworded wifi [yes very important] to the fact that there’s never any queue, there are free charge-points everywhere and easy navigation for passengers on connecting flights, sparkling clean bathrooms and non-foul oxygen to breathe in… IMPRESSIVE! “So impressive”, everyone echoed! Why can’t our MMIA be like this?

Welcome to Kigali International Airport

When we arrived the Murtala Muhammad International Airport, I connected to the wifi. I was just seeing “enter password” when one lady came out lamenting “Hian! Later they will say they are coming from the abroad. They cannot flush. So-so shit full everywhere for toilet”. One pot-bellied immigrations man responded to an airport worker close by, shouting: “But I’ve told you, when any lady uses the toilet, go and check if they flushed or not. If they did not flush, come out and run after them, shout that they did not flush. Embarrass them so they will not do it again. All these dirty fine girls.”

I turned to my travel buddy, we both echoed “Welcome to Nigeria!”

Rwanda was such a lovely country! Serene, Peaceful, Bliss; the country made me so proud to be African! I cannot wait to visit a second time. I also cannot wait to see a New Nigeria, a better Nigeria! I believe so much in that Nigeria. I believe so much in a great Africa! God bless Africans!

Rwanda 2017.

Rwanda was/is AH-MA-ZINGGGG!!! <3

Written by Abimbola Oladapo… for NaijaNomads.

Talk about seeing the most beautiful parts of the world with a green passport, think Naija Nomads! Naija Nomads is the go-to spot for everything travel from visa necessities, budget, activities, travel buddy needs, to lifetime experiences! Catch up on our blog at www.naijanomads.com Instagram/Twitter: @naijanomads

20 Comments

  1. The Real Oma

    July 28, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Awww, thanks for sharing. I’m so jealous of you. I have always wanted to visit Kigali. The only Rwandan I have had the pleasure of meeting was also very gentle, patient and courteous.

  2. amaa

    July 28, 2017 at 2:25 pm

    Imagine Africans decide to travel within Africa, Spend our money within Africa!!!!!!. I have been to 4 African countries and the deals are quiet cheap and affordable . Rwanda has suffered a lot of set backs and I am glad they are rising through the ashes. I wish our celebrities will quit promoting the xenophobic SA and look East and North instead. Morocco stop the BS and do visa on arrival to Africans if you want to travel to your country

  3. Anon

    July 28, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Beautiful pictures especially the last one. I always like these experiences from other African countries.

  4. West African

    July 28, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Whao so you got asked all those stupid questions when you announced you are visiting Rwanda. It’s amazing how Nigeria one of the most economically F**ked up country in Africa always look down on other Africans and refuse to learn about the happenings of other African nation cos they think they are the best amongst all Africans. Yes you are the best at 419 that’s for sure.

    Go to Rwanda and figure out how the economy is growing so fast economically emulating Singapore and why voted the cleanest city in all of Africa. An award Nigeria will never win.

    Take interest read and learn the happenings of other African nations and come off your high horse. Mschewwww and the next time a Nigerian sees me and once again assume just cos I am African and a successful doctor living in USA I must be Nigerian ill put them in their place. There are many successful African nationalities in America who are not Nigerian. Dohh

    • Anonymous

      July 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      Your stupidity knows no bounds and certainly no city limits.

    • Corolla

      July 29, 2017 at 1:06 am

      I agree with you! I am Nigerian, but the way we look down on other African countries is disgusting. Our economy is in shambles, our leaders are a bunch of corrupt fools, most people are living in penury, and we now have the guts to be condescending…like how? We are a joke to other African countries. Big joke!

  5. akin

    July 28, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    Nice country……they even have one of the best health care system’s plus lowest maternal mortality in Africa.

  6. Ethio

    July 28, 2017 at 3:48 pm

    I don’t even know what to say

  7. Moniker

    July 28, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    Just negodu…
    I can taste the beautiful feeling here in my mouth even without travelling with you guys. We have shed blood in this country, still shedding. Where is the love? Little countries will be making huge steps without noise. We the giANT of Africa will be bragging nonsense.
    The West will never see the good in this countries. Only the bad things that makes us helpless and penniless would they preach to the world. Travelling this continent round is on my bucket list. I must fulfil it. Thanks for walking us to Rwanda with you.

  8. Moniker

    July 28, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    These* not this

  9. TRAVEL WITH A PEN

    July 28, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    Rwanda sure looks amazing! You guys have inspired me to visit and that Banjamin guy! Yummy looking somebody! <3

    Fola, come and try that sleeping on the ground in Oshodi! haha

  10. Margaret mukakigeli

    July 28, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    Very well put I am Rwandan and proud to be a citizen.

  11. No Headaches Please

    July 28, 2017 at 7:08 pm

    Lovely and added to bucket list!
    Other places I’d love to see :
    Gambia/ Zanzibar/Zimbabwe ???

  12. Truth-be-told

    July 28, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    @Westafrican i sincerely hope you never get to treat a Nigerian patient, with all that pent up anger/venom. Nothing wrong with being proud of your country and repping it, faults and all. I prefer visiting African countries and have been to a lot of them. Rwanda is indeed a very beautiful country, these pictures even do it little justice. Pretty clean and beautiful; however one can tell that it is in a state of healing as you can still sense that feeling of sadness hovering around.

    • Chichi

      July 28, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      While u can sense the feeling of sadness in Rwanda, in Nigeria, u can only sense frustration and depression hovering around.

    • maria

      July 31, 2017 at 5:24 pm

      Not just sadness but their is also an air of fear of authority. Kagame rules that country with an iron fist. Fear of government so to speak

  13. The King Nomad

    July 29, 2017 at 7:02 am

    Beautiful post. To think they were in Civil war only a few years ago. Surely we can sort of pick up some lessons as Nigeria from them. Been to Rwanda! It’s wow! So green, so safe, the citizens are so disciplined. It was refreshing to see an African country where its people are very afraid of the police. I’m lucky enough to go to Rwanda every 3 months for work. Can’t wait to go back in August.

  14. Truth-be-told

    July 29, 2017 at 7:27 am

    I believe the country in question is Rwanda…

  15. Uwamukiza

    July 29, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    As one of the lucky Rwandese that survived the genocide, I must admit that we Rwandans have indeed risen from the ashes. And the current visual beauty of Rwanda is indeed very impressive, I think Rwandan people are known for their cleanness (my parents being annoyingly at the top of the ladder of neatness and cleanness).. However, as a Rwandese I must say that Rwanda is a good and safe country for its visitors, though it’s people live in fear and tension..

  16. Truth-be-told

    July 30, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Thank you so much Uwamukiza, that is exactly the point I am making above. It sure takes time to heal. It was a terrible experience you all went through and I send my loving thoughts your way all the time and wish you strength. Your fighting spirit (and by that I mean your country) is admirable. Everyone was warm and receptive towards me when I visited and would just love to go back over and over. @The King Nomad- is your suitcase big enough to accommodate a human?

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