Guardian Life in Rwanda! A Time in History, The Art of Coffee and Italian Delight (1)
When visiting Rwanda, all everyone remembers is the 1994 genocide. Yet, the country has been able to take an integral moment in their history and weave it into the fabric of what it stands for today. In a bid to explore Africa’s cleanest and safest city, a group of us were invited by Radisson Blu to experience the true essence of Rwanda.
It takes about four hours to get to Kigali from Nigeria and is visa on arrival for Nigerians which costs $30 (N10,830). The organisation of the country is impressive. It showed from the quiet, beautiful streets and rolling hills of Kigali to our home for a couple of days, Radisson Blu Hotel and Convention Centre.
Our visit was also perfectly timed with the 100 days’ commemoration period and the 24th anniversary of the 1994 Tutsi genocide.
Touring Radisson Blu Hotel
This hotel is a major contender in putting the city on the international map. It features 291 rooms, colour-coded floors, two restaurants, a fitness centre and spa among other things. Rooms range from standard rooms, accessible rooms, business rooms, junior suites, presidential suites to one royal suite which all have unique aesthetics and advantages. For instance, the business class rooms are linked by a walkway to the business class lounge in the Kigali Convention Centre. The royal suite, as the name implies, has its own private elevator, meeting room, outfitted kitchen, gym, Jacuzzi and other benefits for Presidents and dignitaries.
Kigali Genocide Memorial
To understand Rwanda, we visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial, which is the resting place for 250,000 victims. It is also one of the eight memorial sites in the country. The Rwandan genocide saw the mass murder of 500,000 to 1 million of the Tutsi minority by the Hutu majority in government at the time. This lasted from the 6th of April up until mid-July, 1994.
Our tour of the memorial started with a video of three survivors of the genocide. We moved with our tour guide, D’Artagnan, also a survivor of the genocide, to the mass graves, Wall of Names and the memorial exhibitions. The memorial exhibitions gave us in detail life before and after the genocide. This was the most emotional and enlightening experience in Rwanda.
Next stop was a world of women-grown speciality coffee. Here, we took a masterclass in the art of coffee-making as well as had a brief history of coffee. Although they export coffee, Rwanda only consumes two percent of coffee. Question Coffee works with 30,000 women-farmers to grow the best coffee in Rwanda. The women from Umutima Nyamirambo Centre in Kigali package the coffee. The proceeds then go back to society through their NGO, Sustainable Harvest Rwanda.
To call it a night, we had the best Italian cuisine at the restaurant in the Kigali Convention Centre – Filini Restaurant. Right before that, we experienced the finest display of the Rwandan culture through dance and music. It was an interactive dinner with complex general manager Denis J. Dernault. The night ended with high spirits on the activity for the next day – Gorilla trekking!
Want to know all about gorilla trekking in Rwanda? We’d go on that journey in the next article.