By Didier Champion
I am from RWANDA! A beautiful country in the East African Region.
2018 is an exciting year for my beautiful nation, Rwanda, and for travelers around the world. As a proud Rwandan, I am very happy that we are finally starting to get the recognition we deserve by many international tourism agencies around the World.
Rwanda has been featured among the “must see” locations for the year 2018 by various international travel agencies such as CNN Travel, New York Times, Huffington Post, The Telegraph, the Vogue, and many others.
This is the Rwandan flag. As a symbol for the nation, it represents the pillars of what Rwanda wants to be. The colors and their respective meanings are very important.
- “Blue” for peace and happiness,
- “Yellow” for economic development,
- “Green” for prosperity and “the sun” for enlightenment.
Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 people I meet in the United States and Europe seem to assume that “Rwanda Today” is still the “1994-Rwanda” they watched in the movie about the Rwandan genocide. They ask me:
Have you seen the movie, “Hotel Rwanda”? Is that real? How is the country right now? Is your family safe/okay?
Over the years, although genuine, these kinds of questions get repetitive and annoying. This is why I am writing this piece to shed some light on false assumptions and stereotypes that seem to not go away despite all the progress that Rwandans have been making for the past 24 years.
Despite a horrible past ( 1994 genocide against Tutsi), I am very proud to say that “Rwanda Today” is much more than that. We are moving on together, stronger and faster than anybody envisioned. Today, 23 years after 1994, Rwanda is definitely nothing like “Hotel Rwanda”. We are a peaceful, developing country, with the ambition to change the course of its history for the better. Bear with me as I introduce you to my beautiful home. My country, RWANDA.
1. Kigali: The capital city of RWANDA
Kigali has been voted as the cleanest and one of the most organized cities in Africa. For the 4th year in a row, from 2014 to 2017, The United Nations nominated Kigali as the most beautiful city in Africa.
I don’t see any other city taking this prestigious in 2018. Whatever happens, Kigali will still be among the top 3. I love my city. It is an amazing city. The Photos can’t do good justice of how organized, clean and awesome this city is.
2. Environmental Sustainability ( The first country to ban plastic bags in the World)
Green Environmental friendly city! An affluent neighboorhood in Kigali.
The use of plastic bags was banned in 2008. Literally, no plastic bag is allowed to enter Rwanda. Even at the airport, you give up your plastic bags, and they give you biodegredable or reusable paper bag. It is amazing! Check out this British journalist story at the Rwandan Airport ( Credit: The Guardian UK).
Snapshot a british journalist story in the Guardian article
3. Monthly Community Service in the whole country
It’s called Umuganda in the local language, which means “ working together”. The last Saturday of the month, each community delegates a place to meet up and do something positive to the community. Usually, activities involve cleaning up, planting out trees, building a house for the poor, infrastructure ( a local school, hospital), or something of that nature. The idea is to work together for the betterment of the community and the Rwandan society at large.
4. Paul Kagame, the best president in Africa, right now.
I can’t think of any other president who has transformed his/her country, literally from being hopeless to hopeful, from a disaster to an economic recovery, from literally nothing to something. Perhaps, most importantly, he has inspired and motivated the next generation of young leaders, like myself. He leads by example. He does talk less, but he does so much. A complete opposite of many African leaders.
He is the man of action, himself! As the 2018 head of the African Union, he has an impossible task to lead Africa and make reforms that will benefit African people and their socio-economic conditions on the continent. I wish him the best of luck.
5. The most number of women in the parliament in the World.
64% of the members of the Rwandan parliament in both chambers ( senate and deputy) are women. No wonder why the country is doing well. Regulations mandates that at least 30% of all government institutions have to be women. From top-level ministers level to low-level leaders in the communities. You talk about women’s rights, equality and all that? In Rwanda, we don’t just preach equality. We are doers. The population is 50% men, 50% women, so it makes sense to include women in all levels of decision making in the government. Doesn’t it?
64% of Rwandan parliament members are women.
Rwandan coffee beans
Every year, Rwanda coffee wins some of the best international awards for best quality coffee. Order you some here if you are interested. Let me know if you have had any other coffee that competes with ours.
One of the best coffees in the world
I am a coffee stud myself. So, I would be interested to know who are our competitors!
Kigali Convention Center in Kigali, Rwanda
It is a masterpiece of architecture combining arts, culture, and modern design together. it is a major venue for big national and international meetings and assemblies. It has hosted African Union meetings, the World Economic forums, United Nations and many more. In 2017, Rwanda came 3rd after South Africa and Morocco as a country to host may international meetings on the continent, tying with Kenya and Egypt.
Visa upon arrival to the citizens of the world
Starting January 2018, you don’t need to apply for a visa to come to RWANDA. Want to come to Rwanda? No problem. You will get a 90-day visa at all Rwandan borders and airports if you are African; and 30–60 days if you are from other continents. Other countries are closing, tightening up their borders, we are opening them and welcoming the world. I love it.
Silverback Gorilla at the Virunga National Park in Northern Province
Rwanda has 50% of all the mountain gorillas in the world. They are endangered species, so Rwanda does a great job at preserving these treasures. You will have the best experience touring and visiting the amazing creatures.This is my cousin photo last time we were there. Amazing experience!
Also, if you want to see all sorts of animals ( Hippos, Lions, Zebras, etc) at their natural habitat, Rwanda has all you need. Akagera National Park and Nyungwe National Parkare the main ones. Forget about the zoos, come to Rwanda. We will take you where they live.
Zebras and other animals at the Akagera National Park
10. Rich culture and Traditions (Amazing hospitality, great and friendly people)
Rwanda is a very welcoming country. We have a rich culture of dance, music, arts and all that. There is nothing we enjoy more than sharing our culture with others. If you come visit us, we will be happy to share it with you. Below are a few photos of our sisters showcasing our amazing culture through dance and music.
That’s all for now. I hope you learned something new about my country, RWANDA. Obviously, there are many facts about RWANDA, but this is a good introduction. In my next post, I will expand on arts, fashion, sports, economy, and other interesting facts about RWANDA.
11. Bonus fact: Most Beautiful women in the land.
I can write an entire post on this topic. I have lived on 3 different continents and multiple countries. I would argue that Rwanda has the prettiest women in the world. Beauty is the eye of the beholder. Everyone who visits Rwanda comes back with that expression on their face when you ask them that question. “ What did you like about Rwanda”? Many would start with other facts and all that. And then, they say: “ the women though!”. They are some of the prettiest I have ever seen. Well, as a Rwandan, I will have to admit that “Rwanda got them, gorgeous ladies”.
For more about Rwanda’s beauty and her people, check out my blog at Rise and Shine Rwanda.
If you are a traveler, add Rwanda on your wishlist. You will be amazed! Remember, no prior visa application! At your arrival, it costs $ 30 and takes between 3 to 5 minutes. CNN Travel and many other travel agencies just named Rwanda number 11 out of 18 best places to travel in 2018, so don’t miss out.