Tuesday, 16 May 2017

RWANDA: Kigali City Tours

Kigali is the dynamic capital at the heart of Rwanda.

Peacefully nestled along picturesque hilltops, Kigali is a thriving African city immediately notable for its cleanliness, orderliness, and hospitality.

Kigali is a great place to begin or end any Rwanda journey as it's conveniently located in the geographic center of the country. The city is clean and safe, with extremely welcoming people.

Travelers will enjoy exploring the great cultural activities - including several award-winning museums, burgeoning music scene, and some of East Africa's most memorable dining experiences.

Kigali Genocide Memorial

The people of Rwanda embrace peace and reconciliation. They are committed to fight the ideology of genocide. The memorials found throughout the country are moving testimonies in memory of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and the people who lost their lives.

Inaugurated on the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the Kigali Genocide Memorial at Gisozi is where 259,000 victims have been buried. This memorial also serves to educate about how the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi took shape and examines genocide in the 20th century.

Camp Kigali Belgian Monument

A small museum in Kigali City lies at the site of the massacre of 10 Belgian UN Blue Beret. At the onset of Genocide under the command of General Dallaire, they were deployed to guard the house of Prime Minister Agatha Uwilingimana.

When the genocide began, Presidential Guard soldiers invaded the home, disarmed the Belgians and transported them to Camp Kigali where they killed them. The ten stone pillars memorialize the ten soldiers killed.

Natural History Museum - Kandt House

Dr. Richard Kandt was the German explorer who embarked on an exploration of Rwanda in 1897 searching for the source of the Nile.

He founded Kigali in 1908 as the centre for administration for German East Africa. In 2008 his historic residence was converted into the Natural History Museum which houses some really interesting information on Rwanda’s flora, fauna, geology and biological history, along with a stuffed skeleton of a massive crocodile that terrorized a village in Lake Muhaze; a pair of shoes was found in its stomach.

Also known as ‘Kandt House’, it is approximately 10 km from Kigali International Airport, this Museum is dedicated to Dr. Richard Kandt a German doctor and explorer who embarked on an exploration of Rwanda in 1897, searching for the source of the Nile River.

The Natural History Museum aims at explaining the richness of Rwanda's Nature. The idea being that it is only through the knowledge of the nature we live in that our behavior and understanding will change.

This museum showcases many specimens and replica of the natural wonders of the country.

Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace, residence of the former president of Rwanda, President J. Habyarimana - is near the airport on the eastern outskirts of Kigali. Habyarimana was the president whose plane was shot down on the 6th April 1994, the event that some say triggered the Rwandan Genocide.

The former state house is now a museum that gives an overview of Rwanda’s history and a visit to the remains of the Falcon 60 presidential jet that are housed in a walled garden on the property.

Community Visits

Nyamirambo Walking Tour

Nyamirambo is a bustling multi-cultural commercial district in Kigali. This unique experience brings you right into the heart of the colours, noises and smells of urban Rwanda.

Guided by the charming women of the Nyamirambo Women's Center (NWC), the tour allows visitors to experience the local market, West African tailors, hair salons, a recording studio with its local rap music, butcher and the Muslim quarter with its Arab influences.

A delightful traditional Rwandan lunch in a home of one of your hosts is an optional extra.

The lovely ladies of Umutima {which means “heart” in Kinyarwanda} have played a big role in our brand new collection for little ones by beautifully hand-sewing many of the pattern-happy items on our nursery line, everything from rompers from play mats to turbans & more!

These talented women,most of whom are also mamas inspire other women everyday with their beautiful artistry, determination, and dreams for the future.

You can chat with Umutima’s advisor, Monica Tabet-Gugolz, and a few of the ladies themselves to find out more about this wonderful cooperative and to hear what they had to say about our nursery collection.

Originally from Switzerland, Monica moved to Rwanda in 2013 looking to become involved with a grassroots women’s organization.

She began volunteering with the Nyamirambo Women’s Center – an institution which helps women continue their education and gain better employment opportunities but soon realized that the Center was too dependent on outside funding and lacked a means to sustain itself.

To address this issue, Monica began teaching some of the women how to apply hand-stitches to African wax print fabric. Slowly but surely this dedicated bunch learned how to sew everything from home d├ęcor to children’s clothing, with an emphasis on quality and detail.

Today there are nearly 30 women involved in the project and they have organized themselves into a well-run cooperative known for its beautiful craftsmanship.

Here’s what Monica has to say about working with Umutima on our nursery collection:

We have loved working with Umutima to create beautiful products for our nursery line – what are your thoughts on the collection?

The collection is so beautiful and we feel that Indego Africa reflects Umutima’s spirit perfectly. To see our products in the nursery collection validates all the hard work we have put into creating Umutima and gives us hope for our future. I still cannot believe this is happening!

As a mother yourself, what product from our nursery collection would you most like to give to your little one(s)?

For me the baby blanket/playmat is the item I love the most. It is Umutima’s very first product and I remember how much effort it took to get the final product right and to teach the women to stitch them.

What is the process like working with artisans to create a product by hand from start to finish?

At the moment I am in charge of design and new ideas. I then introduce the new idea to the women and we work on making the sample. Sometimes this involves looking for external artisans,for example for basketry and this can take time.

Once we are happy with the sample, the women working with me on it will teach the other ladies.

It takes a lot of patience and understanding, because the products that we make are “luxury” items in Rwanda. They are not products that are necessary to daily life here, so it is sometimes difficult for the artisans to understand why we cannot accept products that are not finished correctly.

I put a lot of time and effort into quality control and making sure the details are finished correctly, but they now know that if our clients come back it is because of our attention to detail and so they accept the fact that I can be demanding.

There is one story that I will always remember. One of our tailors, Francine, when she started working for us found it really difficult to sew straight. The very first products we gave her were our aprons, which have a pocket in the front.

No matter how much she tried, the pockets were never straight and each apron had to be done twice or even thrice. But Francine persevered and when she was finally able to make an apron that was perfect the first time, we both ended up with tears of happiness.

Today Francine is one of the tailors that made the baby rompers for Indego Africa!

What inspires you about the women you work with?

The thing that inspires me the most about the women I work with is the fact that no matter what they have gone through in their lives they still have the strength and the passion to learn new things and work hard to earn a living.

I respect the pride they put into their work and the fact that from the start they took ownership over Umutima.

Talk to three of Umutima’s talented mama makers to hear their thoughts on the nursery collection and what it means to be a working mom.

FRANCINE – MOTHER OF 8 CHILDREN

Which product from the nursery collection do you like the most?

My favorite product is Umutima’s romper, because when I was asked to be one of the tailors to make the rompers for Indego Africa it meant a lot to me. When I first joined Umutima I struggled a lot with the finishing details of the products I was asked to sew. I always had to redo them because there was always something not straight or uneven.

But I really worked hard to improve myself and slowly I saw the improvement. To be making the rompers means that I am now considered one of the top tailors of Umutima and this makes me proud.

What do you enjoy about coming into work everyday?

Joining Umutima has changed my life forever. I learn so much and I do it with other women, so I do not feel alone. I can now contribute to the finances of my family and this is a huge step for me.

What are your dreams for your children’s futures?

I want my children to be able to have an education and to be able to one day earn a living.

What does it mean to be a “working mom”?

It is important because I can contribute to my family’s needs. I can help pay school fees and medical bills.

HOUSSINA – MOTHER OF 3 CHILDREN

Which product from your nursery collection do you like the most?

My favorite product is Umutima’s romper, because I worked with Monica to develop the first sample for this product and in our catalogue we call it the “Houssina jumpsuit”. To see the picture in Indego Africa’s catalogue made me happy.

What do you enjoy about coming into work everyday?

I am passionate about being a tailor and each day I learn something new with Umutima. I like being part of a team and not working by myself. I know that I can count on my Umutima friends if I need help.

What are your dreams for your children’s futures?

I want to be able to provide my children with a good education so that they can have a better future.

What does it mean to be a “working mom”?

I feel proud being an Umutima member. I used to work part time, but now it is a big difference bringing home my monthly salary. With money gained at Umutima I can do a lot of things. I look after my children, I pay school fees, I can pay for rent. I feel independent and proud contributing without asking for help.

MAYIMUNA – MOTHER OF 7 CHILDREN

Which product from your nursery collection do you like the most?

My favorite product is Umutima’s playmat/baby blanket. I was one of the first Umutima’s ladies and the baby blanket was our very first product. I remember how hard it was to make the stitched straight and regular. I am now considered one of the best hand-stitchers in our group and I can even make bedspreads. I never imagined that something I make with my hands would reach the other side of the world.

What do you enjoy about coming into work everyday?

I have found great joy being a member of the Umutima. It is a place where I am happy and have found a social community which gives me great support. I earn an income and find peace in knowing that my children will not go hungry.

What are your dreams for your children’s futures?

My children are already grown, but I hope that they can always have enough to live and to always be healthy.

What does it mean to be a “working mom”?

I have a job that I like and I don’t have to wait for my husband to do everything for me. Working gives me independence and pride.

What an amazing group of ladies! We are proud to be their partners and are thankful to Monica and the rest of the artisans of Umutima for welcoming us into their world! Shop the nursery products – hand-stitched and made with love – by the mama makers of Umutima!

Arts & Crafts

There is an array of wonderful offerings of contemporary art studios; fashion; handcraft production and cooperative centres where you can watch Rwandans weaving and beading – and where you will be lost for choice in the many fabulous products on offer to purchase. Click below for more information on some of Kigali's best galleries and arts centres:

- Gahaya Links
- Inema Contemporary Art Centre
- Caplaki Craft Village
- Uburanga Contemporary Art Centre
- Tongo Art Gallery
- Rwanda Nziza
- Ikaze Showroom
- Yego Arts
- Umutako Iwacu
- Ineza Womens Cooperative
- Angaza Accessories

Sport & Athletics

Kigali is a hotspot for sports, athletics and recreation. From the large Amahoro Stadium that hosts regular football events, to a number of other local establishments:

Nyarutarama Golf Course: 9 or 18-hole round of golferience Rwanda’s great bird life whilst enjoying a round of golf on the emerald green fairways of the Kigali Golf Club. Equipment, clubs and caddies are available for hire; lessons available at very reasonable rates.

Nyarutarama Tennis Club

Cercle Sportif de Kigali

Bwiza Village

Bwiza is a small village in the neighborhood of Ndara. During this visit you can see how the government has helped to bring new housing to this community along with their local arts and crafts. This is a community of potters, basket makers and wonderful dancers.

Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village

An independently funded boarding school, in the Eastern Province where they house and educate 500 children aged 15 to 21 who come from all over Rwanda. You will visit the school and farm then enjoy time interacting with students over lunch.