Our first full day in Kigali felt never ending. The capital city here in Rwanda is colorful, bustling, and beautiful. There are more motorcycles than cars here, because it’s easier to get around on them- so they act as taxis! I’m glad we have local drivers because the traffic here is crazy; there’s minimal stop lights and signs, so most people just literally go with the flow. Our driver told us that it’s actually very challenging to get a license here. There are five tests, and if you fail one you have to start from the beginning. As chaotic as the streets seem to us, the locals know how to navigate it and apparently there’s very little accidents.
We visited the Genocide Museum this morning, which was a very beautiful memorial on the side of a hill overlooking the city. I thought it was very poetic that a place telling the story of so much violence and terror could be so peaceful. I did research on the genocide before traveling here, but I learned so much more today. What happened here was so awful because the world had so many warnings and so many chances to prevent it. I felt so much more sadness knowing that the global community pulled away and stood aside as thousands died here.
The most moving thing about this piece of Rwanda’s history is that it has completely united them and transformed their culture. Within a few years after the tragedy, so much forgiveness and hope fostered in the community. For victims to forgive those who brought violence into their lives- it is such a powerful message. There is no revenge and no hate here, but rather love, education, and understanding. I hope that this piece of history is able to reach all countries, because it definitely changed my perspective today.
With some new background on the country’s history, we then stopped by Question Coffee, which is a company that sells coffee from women farmer cooperatives. We got to learn about how the company invests in the small farms and gives them skills to produce the best coffee beans, as well as the process from tree to cup. I don’t drink coffee, but I tasted all of it. Then we hiked Mt. Kigali, with a stunning view of the city at the edge of the hill. We ended the day with a trip to 1000 Hills Distillery where we ate meat cooked on volcanic rocks and watched the sun set!
Tomorrow we venture out from the city, and I can’t wait to see what comes next in our adventure.
By Eva Tyler ’20, Music Therapy Major, Posting from Kigali, Rwanda