Sunday April 12 2015

Captivated by Rwanda



A busy street in Kigali

A busy street in Kigali 

By Kenneth Odokonyero

I visited Rwanda from the 20th to 22nd February for the sixth Rwanda Pharmaceutical Students Association (RPSA) symposium. I was one of those that represented Makerere University Pharmacy Students Association.
The travel plan was to leave for Kigali at 8pm on 19th. But the time written on the bus tickets we booked a day before was 8am thus we missed the bus. Fortunately, after negotiation with the bus officials, our tickets were considered for 1am of the next day at a fine of Shs10,000. We paid Shs 55, 000 in total and thereafter had to wait five hours at the bus terminal.
We travelled in the dark, save for the foggy and beautiful hills of Kabale that were quite a sight at dawn.
Crossing the border was hustle-free. To our amazement, all we needed to cross the border were our University identity cards, marking the first time I ever felt really East African. For your information, polythene bags are not allowed in Rwanda. In case you have it, you’ll leave at the Uganda side of the border.

In Rwanda
Rwanda is known as the land of a thousand hills. The roads are constructed in a meandering sort-of network around the hills. Tea plantations dominate the landscape but you will not miss out on some rice plantations.

It just took us two hours to reach Kigali from the border. We set foot in Kigali at around 10.30am (Rwandan Time)

Immediately we reached the park, Shakilah, the person who was supposed to pick us up, called me up with directions to the boda boda stage to take us where she was.

The boda bodas in Rwanda are very organised. They strictly carry one person with both the rider and passenger wearing helmets and reflector jackets, and respect traffic rules.
The traffic lights are quite different from the ones in Kampala. They have timers, so there is a kind of countdown for the road users to know for how long it shall show green and red.

Zebra crossings are also respected. We were en route to the venue for the symposium, School of Medicine and Pharmacy of University of Rwanda in Huye. Huye is in the southern part of Rwanda (close to the border of Burundi). It is a roughly two-and-half hour drive from Kigali (yes, Rwanda is very small).

The genocide memorial sites
It is impossible to write about Rwanda and not mention about the genocide. I visited the genocide memorial centers at the University and in Kigali. Entrance to the centre is free although you will be charged 6,000 Rfw if you want to take photos while there.
It was a wonderful experience, murakoze (thank you).

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