Sunday, February 26, 2012

Kigali, Rwanda

What a surprise Rwanda is! Many countries in Africa easily express a sort of visual chaos but Rwanda is clean, organized, friendly, and quite hilly. The capital, Kigala, is located at 5,500 feet in elevation. Here are a few pictures.

View of Kigali city center

This is the real Hotel Rwanda called the Hotel des Mille Collines

Inside the lobby - the film was made at a hotel in South Africa

The last Saturday of each month is called Umaganda - a national day cleaning the country. It is a patriotic service where all citizens, young and old, stop whatever they are doing and clean up wherever they are. All business in the country comes to a halt. It lasts from 7 AM to noon. We were in the country on this day in February to view this incredible service to their country.

On a darker note, we visited the Genocide Memorial

It was built here specifically because of the many mass graves that were located here. Here is an open grave outside the memorial.

It is a new building and very modern. Each visitor gets a handset that has programed narration at each of the stops. Languages are Rwandan, English, French, Spanish and others.

Some of the displays are haunting. The memorial is meant to provide future generations with a remembrance of what happened. Exhibits are also on display about genocide elsewhere - Jewish (1940's), Armenian (1910's), Bosnian (1990's), and Cambodian (1970's).

A large room holds thousands of family photo's of the victims

One million Rwandans were killed in the genocide. But the irony of it all is that today this country is peaceful, clean and vibrant.

This is one example - we were taken to a basket weaving co-op where women who were brutalized in the genocide are now making colorful baskets that are being exported worldwide. They are sold at Macy's!

A creative endeavor

Where smiles are everywhere

And beautiful baskets too

2 comments:

Gaelyn said...

Umaganda is a Fabulous idea that we should start here, and all around the world.

The memorial is quite moving. It's a good reminder.

Are you with a group tour like Smithsonian? Been looking at some of their tours.

Zuke said...

Hi Wayne...certainly enjoying your insights and photos! I've purchased my share of Rwandan baskets online at Macy's. They're not only practical and works of art, but smell like newly mowed grass! Pretty neat you were able to visit one of the cooperatives where they are made. Keep on posting! Barb