After we left the Murambi Genocide Memorial we drove to the city of Butare for lunch, which we ate on the patio of the oldest restaurant in town, we were told by Amani. While in Butare we had planned to drive by the National University, go to the National Museum and then the King's Palace on our way home. But, as often happens in life, "the best laid plans of mice and men oft times fall asunder" and it turned out we had to get back to Kigali sooner than originally intended. A person can't do EVERYTHING on a first visit to Rwanda, as much as they would like to.

But knowing that we didn't have to stop made the ride back quite relaxing and gave an opportunity to gaze out the window at the beautiful country passing by, too lazy to even take out the camera and shoot photos. On the way south that morning we'd taken a few, none of which do any justice at all to the scenery, or are even representative of the best things we saw, but I share them so readers can get a very general idea of the lay of the land:

Scenery 1   Scenery 2

The first one shows the rolling hills covered in terraced gardens, and the second one shows, I think, the outskirts of the city of Gitarama, which is near the village where President Kagame was born in 1957 but from which he fled with his family in 1961 during one of the smaller Tutsi genocides. See HOW KAGAME BECAME RWANDA'S LEADER.

As I say, the photos don't do the scenery justice, as they were taken from inside the car which was traveling fairly quickly (not over the speed limit) down the highway which was itself cluttered with people walking in all directions, pedestrian traffic in Rwanda being far heavier than vehicular. Previously I had been amazed at the women walking with bananas on their heads, but now I saw them walking with classic Rwandan lidded baskets, of all sizes, on their heads. I asked Amani what was in the baskets and he said probably beans going to market, but that they could contain any variety of things, being used, as they were, as "containers" and not merely decoration, or as must-have souvenirs for tourists.

If I had to describe in words what one sees as they drive through Rwanda it would be to imagine yourself on a virtual ride through a Fairy Tale picture book. With the country being so tiny (compared to Canada) I even sometimes felt like Gulliver in the land of the Lilliputians.

Along the way we passed many places where we would have liked to stop and give away a soccer ball and finally, about half an hour outside of Kigali, we couldn't resist. In a small roadside village we saw children playing soccer with an old tattered foam ball that had lost half of its black octagons. See the boy holding it in the first photo below:

Bob & Kids   Kids & Pump   Kids & Ball

The middle photo shows the new ball being pumped up with the children anxiously waiting and our driver looking on. Actually, he liked the soccer ball give-aways so much that we gave him one to take home to his children as appreciation for his excellent driving of these two days. The third photo shows, as usual, the ball up in the air and the children happily running after it.


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

email: orwelltoday@gmail.com
website: www.orwelltoday.com