Time was when Kigali was a forlorn hill with narrow streets dotted with shopping kiosks. The kiosks mostly sold amata na Fanta bikonje (cold milk and soda – every soda was, still is, known as Fanta!). The only buildings that befitted the name were two government filthy affairs that stank to high heaven: ‘four-legged’ Foreign Affairs Ministry and Post Office buildings. The saving grace for them all was three hotels that made Kigali look like a city, much as they also were nothing to write home about: Hôtel des Mille Collines, Hôtel Merdien Umubano and Hôtel Diplomate. Hôtel Kiyovu for fat cats in government was only a hotel in name as it looked like a collection of huts. For more accommodation, there were dingy dens known as “homes” which belonged mainly to the Catholic Church but were, in reality, an insult to homes as we know them today. “Today” because the homes of then were mud-and-iron-sheet hovels in relation to which those Church “homes” could be called decent. Residential hovels existed only in what was known as Kiyovu for the Rich and, then, in Gikondo. The rest of Kigali was home to what someone once infamously termed “nests”. Such nomenclature was unfair, of course. People had to make do with anything as the country had died. From the grave, the country saw everything slowly but steadily blossom into life. And so, what with building the whole country and government institutions from scratch, tall buildings started to rise from the ground in the 2010s, if I recall well. First to hit the scene was an 'all-blue-glass’ building called City Plaza House, on the lower Central Business District (CBD) street. As if this had lit a spark, next we saw a reasonably big and high brick building standing near the main city roundabout, also in the CBD. It’d been put up by the Catholic Church as Caritas Building. Not to be outdone, the other side of the roundabout saw a shopping mall called Union Trade Centre face it. When down below on the lower CBD street we beheld a true tower, we started to talk about skyscrapers in Kigali. Kigali City Tower (KCT) stood at a proud 20 storeys and was seen as the landmark that’d mark Kigali as a metropolis among world capitals. From there, the race was on and we lost count. Because soon, Grand Pension Plaza, even if at a mere 17 floors, being larger and bigger and sitting at a higher altitude, seemed to dwarf our lower KCT. It stood almost shoulder to shoulder with a bank building that kept changing names. But already, a few metres from Grand Pension Plaza and the bank was respectfully large and tall Bank of Kigali building. And it was not alone because on a spacious square opposite stood the City Hall building, majestic in its green surroundings. Which reminds me. I used to curse our city mothers/fathers for spoiling our Mayor’s Parlour by fencing it off. Where would our young ones get a square in the city to play, blow the breeze, court, skate, ride bicycles, get free Wi-Fi and the rest? But lucky sons/daughters of a gun, they had a Rwandan brain to have thought out everything for them. And so today, Imbuga Walk has green areas, benches, kiosks, restaurants, and bars as well as walking, skating, cycling, say it, tracks for all ages. And the grapevine has it that it’s set to be longer and greener. Now, beat that for a green and smart city! That wasn’t all, however. By now we had got a dazzling landmark building and its unique hotel in the names of Kigali Conference Centre (KCC) and Radisson Blue, with Kigali Heights facing it. KCC a dazzling landmark for its unique Rwandan-themed shape that colour-dances for you at night, following a theme of your choice. An AU conference? It’ll dance its flag’s colours! And so, since skyscrapers and unique buildings had become middle-of-the-road and covered all three districts of Kigali, we stopped watching. Our interest was on eco-, e- and other ‘smarts’. Then news of new smart buildings coming up hit us bang in the face with a realisation: we might lose knowledge of our city’s skyline. At 24 floors, Kigali Financial Towers will make KCT look like a toy. But wait a sec! In turn, at 29 storeys, Kigali Green Complex will make all of Kigali’s buildings look like building miniatures. That, however, will be before the massive Inzovu Mall stomps the ground. Inzovu is Kinyarwanda for elephant, the largest African land animal. So, is the building putting a cap on the competition for building size in Kigali? I wouldn’t think so because, all said and done, who would’ve guessed Kigali would beat other cities to be announced as Africa’s premier Smart City, at any time in its history? Well, that’s what the 2023 African Smart City Index declared after scrutinising 30 African cities. Pulling Kigali’s tail are Tunis, Nairobi, Cape Town and Accra, respectively. Will Kigali keep surprising us, to keep this position? Well, it had better! The race with other cities is on!