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What I Loved about Rwanda

Apart from being a beautiful country, remarkably green and very hilly, Rwanda is also one technologically advanced nation. Can you imagine the country’s road network is almost perfect plus 4G network coverage is virtually country-wide!

I had never been to Rwanda before. All my life everything I knew about the small country was either through the media or through history books. And the history books weren’t doing the beautiful place justice. So much on the genocide of 1994. Nothing on the unity of the people. Nothing on the patriotism of the citizens. Nothing on their love for their nation, their kindness and their unshaken willingness and dream to see their country prosper.

The media on the other hand continually talks about the country’s leadership ‘clinging on to power’. The politics of this and that. They don’t talk much about how the country is making progress in their education sector. No one mentions the economic advancements. They don’t talk about how the city is kept clean. About how soldiers are strategically posted everywhere day and night to keep the city secure. About how gentle and sweet the Nyarwanda people are and how ready they are to help. Honesty and brilliance. Kindness that soaks.

Kigali is beautiful. It is the Zion of Africa. Figuratively and also quite literally. The city on the hills. A city where people adhere to rules. A place with almost no crime.

You will board a bodaboda and you won’t be afraid. Imagine snapchatting your bodaboda ride. Where else do you do that? The helmet is a must. If you don’t want the helmet don’t ride the bodaboda. It doesn’t smell. It is clean. Not the ‘very new’ clean. The normal clean that is not new but very comfortable. The rider doesn’t understand English or Swahili but knows where you want to be and will do everything to get you there without taking advantage of your lack of knowledge of the city or its prices. He will manoeuvre his way through the road network without breaking any traffic rules. He will get you there safe and tell you “Thank you” when you pay him. He will go ahead to tell you “Welcome to Kigali”.

You will be on the public bus and you will be safe. There’s a free internet hotspot in every bus. There’s some sort of Wi-Fi anywhere around the city. There’s no rush. There’s little or no stress. And even if there is it doesn’t show on the people’s faces.

This is a place where everything kind of just works. No one breaks the rules. You won’t see any plastic bags. You won’t see anyone driving carelessly. People stick to the speed limits. People stick to the number of passengers allowed. People respect authority.

Where else in this world will you sit in a barber shop where the barber is also a music teacher? Yes he is shaving you, but at the same time teaching his students how to play a guitar. And then they all start singing in Kinyarwanda at some point and leave you wondering why your country’s people are so out of touch with each other.

Rwanda’s is growing. Much of its success is because its people want to see a better country. Visit KLab and see. Walk on the streets of Kigali and see. Talk to some Rwandese guys and see. Ask them why the call themselves “Rwandese” and not “Rwandans” and start pondering over the question together.

We were having a discussion with Kenyans over Rwanda. Some say that the system is too hard and people cannot think for themselves. That people have to do what the system dictates. That they have no choice. That they don’t know what else to do/think. They cannot go out of the box. I doubt it. Make me see that. Open up my eyes. Place them in a box and make me see them fail.

Yes poverty is a problem. Yes Rwanda has other major issues. But these are common problems in Africa. What is important is that the country is growing and that the good people and are working towards a better future for their county.

Though an East African integration is far-fetched, this is a country on the move.

If only all Kenyans would have such levels of honesty, adherence to rules, kindness and patriotism…

Do you know just how much Kenya is admired in Africa?

I have been part of the AMPION Venture Bus East Africa from Dar es Salaam through Arusha, Nairobi, Kisumu, and Kampala to Kigali. This is my first post on the same.

The AMPION Venture Bus is an annual affair for developers, designers and business experts who drive through East Africa in 7 days listing problems and creating start-ups to solve these problems.

This year the venture focused on e-health. 8 start-ups were created and I am looking forward to seeing them flourish.

You can read more about the bus here.

I also managed to attend #TransformAfrica2015. You know how that feels!

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