Nyamirambo, Rwanda’s Las Vegas

Nyamirambo is a diverse and stretched out neighborhood encompassing the southwestern corner of Kigali. In Nyamirambo is a suburb known as Biryogo where the natives pretty much live in gangsterland.
One  of Nyamirambo’s pimped up taxis.
One of Nyamirambo’s pimped up taxis.

Nyamirambo is a diverse and stretched out neighborhood encompassing the southwestern corner of Kigali. In Nyamirambo is a suburb known as Biryogo where the natives pretty much live in gangsterland.

If one was going to Nyamirambo, it would be so unusual to get a moto (motorcycle) as their taxis are way more comfortable than any means of transport one could use. With well decorated seats, well positioned bass speakers and paintings of musicians all over the taxis, one never knows when they have reached their destination. If one had a taxi in Nyamirambo and it didn’t have the usual qualities, then trust me it would struggle to get passengers.

Seeing a lot of gangsters on TV is clearly an inspiration to the people of Nyamirambo, their Kinyarwanda is a bit more gangster with words like “mani” after every phrase and a lot of Kiswahili in the mix. Many put on XX shirts with big shoes and pull their trousers down to their thighs instead of the waist, a fashion sense commonly known as “pocket” to these people. Right from 4am, Nyamirambo is awake. And some of the native’s just wake up to play board games and gamble all day till night comes – then the real party begins!

Nyamirambo is one of the most vibrant and interesting suburbs in Kigali. It is full of mosques and many of the city’s Muslim residents live here. Unlike the rest of Kigali which seems to shut down at 8pm with everyone inside their homes, Nyamirambo is just getting started, by 7pm the street is full of cars, people moving up and down, some going to the mosques.

If a middle class person was thinking of setting up a house, Nyamirambo wouldn’t be a bad option as there are no A list houses, so the need to worry about being seen in a beat up home is practically hogwash.  The houses are rented real cheap; a two bedroom house is at Frw30, 000 a month. The ‘ghettos’, as they are called, have water and electricity supply.

Biryogo Street is also known as the market where everything can be bought. Very many shops selling shoes, clothes, well fitting suits at the price of Frw40, 000 are lined together with small shops with brightly coloured paintings on their walls.

If you have a wedding coming up and want to look super unique, Nyamirambo has Senegalese tailors! You heard me... all the way from Senegal!

With just Goethe Institute and Kwetu films having mini cinemas and Kigali people always complaining about zero cinemas, to the natives of Nyamirambo that is history and they are not planning on waiting for the rest of Kigali to develop. Nyamirambo already has a 2-floor cinema, Cine Star cinema with well decorated red seats, a screen as wide as your living room wall; 3D sound equipment with humongous speakers and all you have to pay to book a ticket is Frw1, 500. However, do so earlier because unlike in the city, the people here love to watch the screen as most of them are idle all day.

Bars and restaurants outnumber the houses in this place though one is not likely to get akabenzi (pork) as the Muslim community is the largest in this place and Nyamirambo’s specialty, huge fish, is one of the most enjoyed at the price of RWF 7,000. And there is room for those who don’t want to over spend. Some restaurants sell food at RWF 350 a plate containing matooke, French fries, groundnuts, beans, rice and juice that costs RWF 100.

If you are tired of Sundowner, Cozy, MTN centre, Car Wash and all those other places, have some adventure and go to Nyamirambo. On top of being anonymous, no one really cares what you are doing - whatever you do, someone else has done before, maybe even worse! So in Nyamirambo, as long as you’re not in the Police uniform and you are not lecturing anyone on how they live, you are surely good to go. With strip clubs and dark clubs filled with prostitutes, the night is set for a true party monger.


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