Kigali City

Kigali city is found in the central region of Rwanda and the city stands at the altitude of 1567 meters. It is the largest city in Rwanda covering an area of 730 kilometers and since independence in 1962 Kigali city is the capital city of Rwanda (the cleanest city in Africa). Kigali city is the major most significant town in Rwanda used for cultural, education, economic, transport and political purposes as it hosts some of the major administrative offices including the Offices of the President of Rwanda. Kigali city the greenest city in Africa is found within province of Kigali one of the 5 provinces of Rwanda bordering northern, eastern and southern province. 

Kigali city experiences time zone of UTC +2 (CAT) with two rainy seasons and 2 dry seasons, the longer rainy season happens between March to May and the shorter rainy season is from October to November, longer dry season is from June to mid-September and the shorter dry season is from December to February with average daily temperatures of 21°C and average rain of 1212 millimeters. 

The Twa pygmy hunter-gatherers group of people were the original occupants of Rwanda around 8000 BC. The Bantu Hutu and Tutsi migrated to Rwanda and their setting in Rwanda resulted in the clearing of forest which was home for the Twa pygmies for agricultural practices. Oral history states that during the 14th century when Rwanda was a small state neighboring larger and powerful Bugesera and Gisaka kingdom, the great kingdom of Rwanda was formed at around 14th century on the shores of the lake Muhazi. The kingdom gradually expanded westwards to Lake Kivu covering the whole of Kigali area by engaging in constant fights with the neighboring kingdoms and by the late 16th century ad early 17th century the kingdom was invaded by the great Banyoro forcing the ruling leaders (kings) to flee westwards abandoning Kigali and eastern Rwanda leaving them in hands of Bugesera and Gisaka. A new Rwandan dynasty was formed in the 17th century by Mwami Ruganzu Ndori with their kingdom capital at Nyanza in the south of the country.

Nations of Rwanda and Burundi were given to Germany by the 1884 berlin conference, they formed an alliance with King Yuhi V Musinga which aided them to establish their administration in this nation in 1897. In the City of Kigali was founded in 1907 due to efforts of German administrator and explorer Richard Kandt, Kandt was an explorer who arrived in 1899 exploring Lake Kivu in search of a source for river Nile. Richard Kandt was the first appointed resident for Rwanda Germany protectorate who decided to make Kigali house his headquarters due to its strategic location in the center of the country, he built the first European style house in Kigali in Nyarugenge and currently, this house is used as Kandt House Museum of Natural History. During the Germany administration the passes an ordinance in 1905 which prohibited non-indigenous natives from entering Rwanda but by 1908 Kandt began permitting Indian trades to enter the country which started an area of commercial trade and that same year many businesses were established by Greek and Indian merchants with assistance from Baganda (the biggest powerful kingdom at that time) and Swahili people who traded in things like cloth, beads and agricultural items and by 1914 business in Kigali city was limited to 30 firms 

The first government-run schools in Kigali were established by Kandt to educate Tutsi students. After the First World War Germany lost control of Rwanda to Belgian force, during the Belgian administration of Rwanda they attempted to assert direct rule by placing King Musinga the then ruler to arrest and offering Rwandans unfair judgments and at this time Kigali was one of the two provincial capitals together with Gisenyi. As time went on it became difficult for the Belgians mostly due famine which forced Belgians to re-introduce the Germany style of indirect rule by end of 1917 whereby Musinga was restored to his throne at Nyanza, this did not last too longer as the Belgian administrators began permanently sidelining the kingdom and by 1924 they took over control of the protectorate with the main administration in Ruanda-Urundi’s capital Usumbura currently known as Bujumbura in Burundi.

After granting of independence in 1962 Kigali city became the capital city of Rwanda, in the newly independent Rwanda Nyanza, was the traditional capital and seat for Mwami (kings) Yuhi V, Mutara III and Kigeli IV and Butare then knowns as Astrida was the colonial capital (seat of power), these two cities were contenders with Kigali but Kigali was chosen due to its location (being in central). Kigali city as a capital city grew steadily and by 1970 it had a population of 25000 with only five paved roads. Darks days befell Kigali city and Rwanda as a country on 6th July 1973 when a bloodless coup involving the overthrow of the then ruling President Gregoire Kayibanda by defense minister Juvénal Habyarimana, this coup resulted into closing down of businesses for a few days as troops patrolled across the city until 11 July when they left the city streets and the situations turned to normal.

Troubles of Rwanda and Kigali city continued, Rwanda experienced a genocide termed as the Rwanda genocide which was sparked off by the assassination of President Habyarimana on April 1994. The genocide was organized by the core Hutu political elite group who occupied most of the powerful positions in the government of Rwanda involving the massive killing of Tutsi and moderate Hutu including opposition leaders who were killed on the first day of the genocide. Kigali city became a battlefield between the Tutsi dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and Rwandan government forces where the government forces attacked the Rwandan patriotic front’s base in the parliament building. The fighting continued resulting in massacring over two thousand Rwandese up to 4th July 1994 when the Rwandan patriotic front completely took control of the city and country as well. The 4th of July is commemorated as a liberation day national holiday every year.

Kigali city lies in the region of rolling hills with a series of valleys and ridges which are joined by steep slopes, it is found in between mount Kigali and mount jail with the highest area on the altitude of 1800 meters. Kigali city is crossed by river Nyabarongo the upper headwater of river Nile forming western and southern borders of the administrative city of Kigali and Nyabugogo River which flow south to lake Muhazi before flowing west between mount Kigali and mount jail draining into Nyabarongo. River Nyabarongo is fed by numerous small streams throughout the city, these rivers are filled with wetlands that store water and protect crop fields.

Kigali City
Kigali City

Kigali city is divided into three administrative districts that are Nyarugenge in the southwest region of the city, Kicukiro in the southeastern region and Gasabo in the north half of the city territory. The central business district (CBD) of Kigali city is found on Nyarugenge hill towards the western edge, it is composed of tallest buildings of Rwanda, for example, the Kigali city tower (the headquarters of Rwanda’s largest banks and other companies). Other buildings hosted in the central business district include Serena, Marriott, Des Mille collines hotel, University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, the National University’s College of Science and Technology, government buildings such as the National Bank of Rwanda and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. Southwest of the central business district on Nyarugenge is where is find Nyamirambo a suburb, this town was the second part of the city where the Belgian rulers settled in 1920 and set as home civil servants and Swahili traders who come for trade-in Kigali city. Due to the influence of Swahili traders who were Islamic believers Nyamirambo town got to be known as a Muslim quarter with the oldest mosque in Kigali that is the green mosque built in the 1930s, Nyamirambo town is a multi-cultural town every active in the night a reason to why it is referred to as Kigali’s coolest neighborhood. North of Nyamirambo and west of central business district there is Nyabugogo found at the lowest part of the city in the Valley of Nyabugogo River, Nyabugogo is used as a home of Kigali’s principal bus and share tax station. The remaining portion of Kigali suburbs is the eastern region of central business district lieing on numerous hills and ridges with Kiyovu town as the closest on the eastern slopes of Nyarugenge hill, the town is home to wealthy experts and Rwandans since colonial times composed of large houses and restaurants. The government of Rwanda has plans to create a new business district in the lower Kiyovu as an addition to the central business district.

Kigali city hosts approximately 1.13 million people according to 2012 census, the 2012 population census states that the city is made up of 51.7 males and 48.3 female and the Rwanda Environment Management Authority blames the high ratio of males to females on the increasing tendency of men migrating to the city in search for greener pastures in town other than agriculture. 73% of the resident population are young below the age of 30 years old and the rest are in the old age of 50 and above. Kigali city has a workforce of 487,000 with 24% of people employed in the agriculture sector, fishing and forestry, 21% in financial services and utilities, 20% in trade and 12% of the population is employed in government positions.

Kigali city offers numerous significant purposes that are economical, administrative, education, religious, entertainment, and transport purpose.

  •  Economically. Kigali city host a number of business including shopping centers, banks, shops, markets and many more. Banks include commercial banks, microfinance banks, development banks and cooperative banks for example Bank of Kigali, I&M Bank (Rwanda) – Formerly Commercial Bank of Rwanda, Compagnie Générale de Banque (Cogebanque), Kenya Commercial Bank, Eco bank Rwanda, Urwego Opportunity Bank, Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD), Co-operative Bank Rwanda. Shopping malls include m-peace plaza, trade light group ltd, Kigali heights and markets include Kigali Fabric Market, Kigali Farmers’ And Artisans’ Market, Kigali City Market.
  • Administrative. Kigali city consists of three administrative districts that is Gasabo, Kicukiro, and Nyarugenge. The city hosts the offices of the president, Rwanda Development Board, Office of the Auditor-General, Gasabo District Office, Rwanda Social Security Board and Gender Monitoring Office, national Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) and many more.
  • Education. Kigali city host numerous education institutions offering education to residents of the city and Rwanda as a nation, these institution include administrative offices of University of Rwanda, University of Kigali, Carnegie Mellon University, Kigali Independent University and many primary and secondary schools including Lycée de Kigali the second largest secondary school in Rwanda, Green Hills Academy, Cambridge International Program at O level, International School of Kigali and the International Montessori School of Rwanda.
  • Religiously. Kigali city is more dominated by Christians but also has Muslims with many places of worship for example Christian churches, temples for example Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kigali (Catholic Church), Lutheran Church of Rwanda (Lutheran World Federation), Province of the Anglican Church of Rwanda (Anglican Communion), Union of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (Baptist World Alliance), Assemblies of God.
  • Entertainment. Kigali city has many entertainment hangouts like clubs for example people bar and dance venue, K-club, Cadillac Night Club, platinum club and many more, for sport lovers Kigali city has many stadiums including Gahanga Cricket Stadium, Kigali Arena, Petit Stade Remera, ULK Stadium, Mumena Stadium, Amahoro National Stadium and many more.
  • Transport. Kigali city is served by Kigali international airport which is 4.6 kilometers a 13 minutes’ drive from the central business district and a new one is being built in Nyamata area. Kigali has bus stations, for example, Nyabugogo bus station which hosts various daily coaches that connect to different destinations from Kigali, for example, the modern coast, jaguar executive coaches, Akamba Bus Service, yahoo car express, Kampala coach Ltd.

Kigali city has a number of famous hotels that offer accommodation and food services to residents of Kigali and international people visiting Uganda. They include radius guest flats, keva guest house, Kigali Marriott Hotel, Kigali Serena hotel, and Ubummwe Grande hotel and many more.

Kigali city is a breathtaking tourist destination attracting a number of tourists into the city. Attractions in the city include

  • Kigali genocide memorial center. The memorial center is the most visited sacred place for visitors in Kigali city, the center is found close to the city center it is a souvenir for the 1994 genocide which took place for 100 days claiming over a hundred thousand lives of Rwandese. 
  • Richard Kandt House Museum of Natural History.  Richard Kandt’s house museum was used as a house to the resident of Kigali. Today the house and the gardens are used as the Rwanda Museum of Natural History purposely to give Rwandese and other international visitors to experience the biological and geological diversity of Rwanda.
  • Presidential Palace Museum. The palace for the former President Habyarimana who was assassinated during a plain crush which sparked off the 1994 Rwanda genocide. Touring this palace gives tourists an insight of what was the daily life of president Habyarimana. 
  •  Other attractions in Kigali city include Hotel des Mille Collines – Hotel Rwanda, Kigali city tower, Kimironko market, Kigali conventional center, and Belgian soldier memorial site.

With a Rwanda VISA, a traveler can visit Rwanda and explore Kigali City and its memorious spots after or before engaging in tours of wildlife and primates in Rwanda’s national parks of Volcanoes National Park (Gorilla Trekking), Nyungwe National Park (chimpanzee trekking, canopy walk) and Akagera National Park(wildlife safaris, game drives).

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