Order, Cleanliness And Beauty Define Kigali City

Twenty years ago, Rwanda’s capital Kigali was wells flowing with blood as hatred and tribal bigotry exploded leading to the death of close to a million people.

At the time, many wrote it off saying it was ‘dead and gone’ and would take ages to recover from that human catastrophe.

Rwandan refugees cross Rusumo border to Tanzania from in this May 30 1994 file photo. Reuters
Rwandan refugees cross Rusumo border to Tanzania in this May 30 1994 file photo. Reuters

Today, one wouldn’t believe that the famous land of a thousand hills two decades ago smelt of death, horror and hopelessness.

I got the chance of visiting the city during the just concluded 49th African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings.

It was only befitting that Donald Kaberuka, president of the continental financial institution brought this year’s meetings home considering the fact he will be giving up the seat when his second term comes to an end next year.

This year has been momentous for the East African nation. In April, nationals commemorated the 20 years since the genocide.


My journey to Kigali started on May 18th 2014 at 21:00hrs at Entebbe International Airport, my mind beaming with curiosity having heard a lot about the city at the heart of Africa.

The writer at the AfDB Annual Meetings in Kigali
The writer at the AfDB Annual Meetings in Kigali

After less than an hour, I knew that I were in Kigali and couldn’t wait for the sun to break the dominance of the night and allow me experience firsthand the beauty that God had bequeathed Kigali.

The cuteness and gorgeousness of the ladies who received us at the airport further confirmed to me that I was in Kagame land. And my one week stay in that part of the world forced me to draw comparisons with Kampala.

I tried to ‘squeeze’ time in the tight AfDB schedule to go through the city and witness first hand the glorious things that have been said about Kigali.

THE ROADS/Kigali at a glance:

One feature that is noticeable in Kigali is the well manicured, clean roads that are not only a preserve of the capital but dot the countryside as well.

The spotlessness of the roads make residents of Kampala envious considering the litter, dust, mud, sewage that have come to be associated with parts of Uganda’s capital.

This cleanliness did not just come by mere wishes and day dreaming.

It took strict Kagame leadership that was embraced by the citizenry in the monthly Umuganda exercise also known as community work.

President Kagame joins Residents of Ndera sector for Umuganda
Rwandan President Paul Kagame (L) joins Residents of Ndera sector for Umuganda

Rwanda’s information portal defines Umuganda as ‘coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’. In traditional Rwandan culture, members of the community would call upon their family, friends and neighbours to help them complete a difficult task.

The last Saturday of the every month, Rwandans engage in the cleaning exercise to make their country admirable as it has come to be.

Umuganda is treated with utmost respect that failure to participate in the exercise would deny one a certificate that could be of help when seeking registration. I t adds to your profile a sense of responsibility.

Locals between the ages of 18 and 65 are required to take part in the exercise.

Also, campaigns like “Security and Hygiene” are in place to ensure consolidation of the cleanliness drive.

Under this campaign, best performers among sectors, waste collection companies, transporters, artists and journalists recognized and awarded for their role in supporting and promoting hygiene and security in the city.

Kigali, with a population of almost 2 million, is the largest city in Rwanda, with an average elevation of 1,700 metres. Kigali is a very clean city.
Kigali, with a population of almost 2 million, is the largest city in Rwanda, with an average elevation of 1,700 metres. Kigali is a very clean city.

As president Paul Kagame pointed out during the meetings while discussing leadership in Africa, the time for talking and discovering our failures belongs to the ages and its high time we acted, a lesson Uganda and Africa can learn from Kigali.

As one traverses the city, the emergence of a new skyline is noticeable with the new buildings under construction going up.


Kigali is not a city like Kampala where you make an appointment but fail to meet due to the infuriating traffic jam.

The smooth traffic flow ensures everything goes according to plan and this probably explains why the country has registered commendable economic growth rates in the recent years. It is free of impediments.

Two decades after the genocide, Rwandans are enjoying longer and wealthier lives
Two decades after the genocide, Rwandans are enjoying longer and wealthier lives

For those Ugandans, both motorists and passengers who have gotten used to riding motorcycles without helmets, Kigali is not the place for you.

In order to ensure the safety of passenger and rider, a strict policy exists that requires commercial motorcyclists commonly known as “Motos” to carry two helmets.

Uganda that’s still grappling with the menace of Boda Boda accidents can borrow a leaf from what out counterparts in Kigali have done to reduce the carnage on our roads.

Unlike in Kampala, where most motorcyclists (boda bodas) stubbornly ignore the direction of traffic lights, Kigali’s Motos obediently and patiently allow the direction of the lights

The city administration has issued ‘profession’ cards that be used to track the professional conduct of the operators and those that lose marks have their licenses withdrawn.




Any script about Rwanda is incomplete without mention of the beautiful ladies that the country has become famous for especially in neighboring nations.

Residents in Kigali take part in a march for women before an international conference on the role of women in Rwanda's society. Photograph: Jason Straziuso/AP
Residents in Kigali take part in a march for women before an international conference on the role of women in Rwanda’s society. Photograph: Jason Straziuso/AP

And speaking about women, the country tops the global league tables for the percentage of female parliamentarians. Fewer than 22% of MPs worldwide are women; in Rwanda, almost 64% are.

Women have also outnumbered men as primary school teachers.


According to the World Bank, the country is now consolidating gains in social development and accelerating growth while ensuring that they are broadly shared to mitigate risks to eroding the country’s hard-won political and social stability.

Rwanda’s long-term development goals are embedded in its Vision 2020 which seeks to transform Rwanda from a low-income agriculture-based economy to a knowledge-based, service-oriented economy by 2020.

Rwanda was recently named top performer in the Rwanda Doing Business 2014   report, among the ten most improved economies in 2013 and Rwanda is now ranked as the second easiest place to do business in Sub-Saharan Africa.

From the accolades and praise the country is receiving over its commendable growth and development, only the sky is the limit for Rwanda.

I must express my gratitude to my creator for the journey mercies to and from Kigali, and Arinaitwe Rugyendo who made this life-changing journey possible. It is my prayer that this was the first of my many trips to the land of a thousand hills.


Facebook: Alex Joel Masereka


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10 thoughts on “Order, Cleanliness And Beauty Define Kigali City

  1. I like the piece of writting.
    Much as concur with you about the city’s cleanliness,there are somethings i don’t agree with you.
    Being driven from the airport direct to Serena and to Gishushu (Home of RDB) doesn’t make you know about Kigali.
    Next time you visit, please ask to be taken through Matoes (Matewusi komerisiyari as they call it) then Nyamirambo, Kimisagara, Kyahapfi and Muhima which is also part of Kigali City and report your findings.
    Traffic is ok, considering the number of cars in the city. But try it in the evening.
    Helmets? Perfect but ask about the “Kanozasuku”!!

    Though i can’t go without saying well done Mr President Paul Kagame

    1. My dear if you can find order at Gipoloso, then don’t talk of one visiting Nyamijozi, that’s Nyamirambo for you, all is perfect that side night or day. The guy has given a perfect conclusion and his visits were representative no matter the size. Bravo Nyakubahwa President Paul Kagame.

  2. Leaders in Kigali are up to the task. Read for example EDPRSII, you will have a feel of what Rwandans intend to do for their country to move forward. In Uganda, under Museveni, Kampala can never achieve just half of what Government of Rwanda is planning for Kgali and the entire country. Museveni is synonymous with disorder.

  3. Bravo president Kagame and all citizens of Rwanda for the job weldone,I hope Ugandans learn something out of this.

  4. Thanks for the piece alex and most of what you say is true of kigali indeed. However, the point about women out numbering men in primary education teaching is everywhere-primary school trs are carers and women are socialised to care and nurture children. It is all part of a complex gender sopcialisation process. Secondly, women constitute 75% of elected mps in the lower chamber of parliament, less in the senate which is appointed by the prsident following some formula. Thirdly, the cleaniliness of Rwanda should not be attribited to kagame, much as i admire his development enginering capacities and leadership. In fact Rwanda towns however small were as clean as they are and roads as good even during the late Habyarimana era. It all boils down to a citizenry that accepsts rules on cleaniliness-generally Rwandans value cleaniliness and granduer.

  5. I cannot believe what I have seen in the pictures especially how the Rwandan Boda bada cyclists can behave on the road. Uganda has no options but to copy what Rwanda is doing by setting up very strict laws and heavy penalities.

  6. Man-in-the-mirror
    the places ur talking about are now better than the places the writer talked about. remember kgli changes day by day.

  7. If it wasn’t for the sturborn opposition who instead of leaving Musisi to work the just demonstrate and encourage street vendors to remain on the street, and other funny works to fail government. Please tell Lukwago to avoid dirty politics it was a wise move to create KCCA

  8. Ugandans are only fighting for chicken feed in the name of “national cake” tightened by their ” we fought brothers” who are just self seekers. Cheap popularity from both the leader or CIC, and his subordinates. Stage managed political party fights to portray freedom of speech and all that crap. Ugandans are on the incline come heaven on earth.

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