The Royal Tour documentary by PBS’s Peter Greenberg that features President Paul Kagame as an amiable and knowledgeable tour guide is arguably the best thing that Rwandans and friends of Rwanda may have watched in the recent past. The trailer to the documentary had nearly everyone so anxious for the full package if I can call it that.
After the two successful screenings in New York and Chicago, Rwandans got a chance to take their front row seats as it aired on Rwanda TV on Friday evening. On a day when RwandAir was sending one of its big birds for its maiden flight to Abuja, all that mattered was that we were all in our seats by 7pm to watch the much talked about documentary, Rwanda: The Royal Tour. The 2018 Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend was also kicking around the same time but it too was no match for the documentary screening on the national broadcaster, RTV.
Some of my friends claimed after watching that it was so interesting but too short. All they were trying to say here is that they could not have enough of their own country. And I can understanding where they are coming from given the fact that I have been privileged to see most of what Rwanda has to offer to anyone with curious senses. In the documentary I could see places I have been to, places I would love to visit and those that I would love to visit once again.
I loved the way it captures the context of Rwanda as a country that has gone through the worst in the form of divisive and genocidal politics that resulted in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Rwanda, and in particular its leadership, has committed to rebuilding a country hinged on the future and not the past. The past is a repository of tough lessons of a place never to go back to but a reminder of how bad things can go.
The story of Rwanda’s renewal cannot be told without shinning a light at the tourism sector that has grown in leaps and bounds. Peter Greenberg had the privilege of having Rwanda’s CEO, President Kagame giving him the tour around the country and telling the story of Rwanda, his own story and showing off Rwanda as an ideal tourism destination with a diverse offering of attractions. From the world renown Mountain Gorillas to the big five in Akagera National Park to Lake Kivu and its water sports as well as so much more even in the city centre.
While watching the documentary I was looking out for that one thing that I would find most intriguing about it all. In my humble opinion, the fact that President Kagame is such a skilled tour guide is what stood out the most. He was armed with clarity when it came to the history of the country and its vision for the future.
He knew a whole lot about the animals in Rwanda including their behaviours and delivered all this with a hue of humour to keep his guest relaxed and engaged. In short, the documentary revealed a president with skills, not just in leadership but on the tennis and basketball courts but also a great guide in the Savannah. He was also reassuring in his delivery like when he assured his guest that the suspended canopy bridge in Nyungwe Forest was very safe to walk on.
Rwanda’s tourism sector could not have gotten a better influencer that the President himself. He not only showed off the best that Rwanda has to offer, he also showed us how to be ambassadors of our countries. I have written in the pages before that we all need to visit the country and also tell others about it. A campaign, Tembera u Rwanda was also launched to encourage locals to see more of their country outside their homes and work spaces.
These days Rwanda has become a huge magnet for big conferences with visitors from all corners of the world flying into Rwanda every now and then. This serves as a great opportunity for those who interact with them to also embark on selling the country to the visitors. You can tell your guest about the various attractions that Rwanda has to offer as far as tourism is concerned. You can also recommend which beer they should try out and which bites to give a try. Whatever the chance, market your country unreservedly.
The views expressed in this article are of the author.