If you ever want to explore a Kigali by night experience, the bustling neighborhood of Biryogo is the best place to start. This has been the case for decades and it is not because of its proximity to the Central Business District – a 15-minute walk on average pace – but mainly its unique way of life. It is against this background that I recently wanted to experience this and hence made the trip to the neighbourhood whose residents are predominantly Muslim. I therefore found a place to sit at many roadside eateries in Biryogo to start off my experience with a cup of ginger tea, one of the several specialties. As I sat there, the first thing I noticed was the affinity most dwellers have to drinking green tea in small groups accompanied with the sumptuous chapattis, another delicacy almost unique to Biryogo. While sipping at my ginger tea, I witness a beehive of activity; children returning from school, friends chatting both from the several roadside eateries and others walking about and as the afternoon give in to evening, the traffic increases, presumably as people return from work. The most distinctive thing is the fact that there is no motorized traffic on some of the major roads that traverses through the bustling neighbourhood, after they were declared a car free zone. Besides eateries, there are several other businesses that line the main street including those selling clothes – mostly the latest fashion trends – among others. The latest development is the beautification of the car-free zone by the City of Kigali with the motivation of helping decongest restaurants in the area, pointing at the fact that Covid-19 transmissions are more likely in enclosed, poorly ventilated settings The newest project is painting three car-free roads in this area with the initiative of transforming it into a dynamic space. “Before going home from work, I pass here and take some tea, I love coming to this place because there are many football lovers, so I mostly come to catch up on the latest news in the world of football while sipping at my ginger tea. This place is very relaxing and vibrant,” says one of Biryogo’s resident we met at this place. Jumas Mwafrika Kayihura is very excited and happy to be back in his hometown and see that a lot has been changed from the last time he was living in this neighborhood. “I am very happy to see my home town changing this way, I remember we used to play football on this same road, I am happy that this neighborhood is being included in touristic places in Rwanda. This place is diverse with different cultures and I think it is going to be a beautiful thing to see for visitors that will come to visit,” he says. What business operators think With the new beautification drive, business operators are excited saying more people will come, while others share also the challenges they have faced due to the changes. Abdulaziz who owns an apparel store says that the business is growing despite the fact that they were disrupted by the pandemic “but as everyone keeps on adjusting and once the beautification is complete, I believe business will pick up significantly because then more people will be coming.” He also pegs his hope on the subsiding rate of infection for Covid-19. “Things will go back to normal again and people’s incomes will pick up,” he says, adding that the issue of packing has also been addressed by appropriating car parking spaces which was a challenge at the beginning. Natacha, a tailor is happy with the new transformation because it also gives them more open space with no chaos of people and cars which creates a peace of mind. As a tailor, she says a peace of mind is needed to be able to be more creative. Biryogo and its famous tea serving Djumapili Semana a resident at this place since 1979, shared the history of serving tea at this place. “Coffee was the most popular drink in this place and is commonly known for being a drink for Muslims living in this neighborhood,” he says, adding that street food was introduced by Muslims as part of their culture. “Back then, they used to cook and would serve anyone who was hungry,” he says, adding that this is also part of the Muslim culture. According to different accounts, majority of the residents of Biryogo relocated to Rwanda from neighbouring countries of Tanzania and Uganda several decades back.