When the crooner put together the ‘inanga’ song “Uzaze iwacu i Murera” that long ago, little did he know the world would take his invitation to a point of seriousness unimaginable to him! The world has taken his invitation so seriously that the American widely read Time Magazine recently listed the northern region of ex-Murera, part of which is today’s Musanze, as one of the top destinations of the world to visit. Visit it today and you’ll wonder why the recognition took so long to come. Much as we must admit, the region is more beautiful after it has had some good measure of transformational build-over. First, though, for info, ‘inanga’ is a kind of traditional harp that’s still played today and is pleasant to the ears. For this, I am not particularly happy that the song has been ‘plagiarised’ by one Mwitenawe Augustin in the name of modernising it, by using modern instruments and adding other voice accompaniments and renaming it “Uzaze nawe urore”. You’ll thus not so easily find the ‘inanga’ version in its original form. All the pity, but, anyway, Musanze area’s captivating beauty recognition coming hot on the heels of another American world respected magazine, Forbes, ranking Rwanda as the world’s seventh best travel destinations gives a deserved bounce in the area’s step. As one of the regions of Rwanda, it has given its fair share of boosting contributions. And it should. On your way from Kigali preferably by road, stop over on top of Buranga Hill and behold the expanse of beautiful landscape and its variety of vegetation that stretch below you. From down below pan your vision first from the east at the rolling hills that border with Uganda and round it towards your left, then hold your gaze at the valley that stretches into Bufumira, Uganda. Now lift your gape westward at the imposing chain of volcanoes of different shapes and sizes. Delve within that ‘pan’ that looks like a wide basin protected by hills and mountains all around and, after the beautiful vegetation, you’ll feast your eyes on the terraced twin lakes of Ruhondo and Burera. Up from which, you’ll try and experience the chilling caves that are said to take you from the foothill of Mt. Muhabura and down to Lake Burera, if you have the grit for that adventure! If you have it, push your willpower into the stinging nettles up Mt. Karisimbi or Mt. Bisoke and enter the palace of royalty. At the sound of your feet, the mountain gorilla monarch will be all ready to square up with you, meanwhile banging his chest, until he realises you are one of these puny beings that always stare, peeping through little gadgets with one eye, as if they’ve met aliens! Then he’ll relax and let his queens, princes and princesses go about their usual business of feeding, self-pruning, playing or just lazing around. Occasionally, they will glance at your lowly presence with majestic snobbery, then forget about you but not before putting a gymnastic show for you. When you leave, your arrogance as a superior human will have been dealt a deflating blow! It’s therefore no wonder that today a lot of high-end lodges nestle around the foothills of these mountains. But Musanze’s region has lots more to offer: other green accommodations, outdoor activities, a community always ready to welcome you into their way of life and more. Most of the above which, interestingly, our original songster had no idea about when he coined these lyrics: “Uzaze urore urare, na njye ninza nzarara” (Welcome, see and sleep over, when I also come I’ll sleep over). What he probably had in mind was the welcome, natural beauty and plenty to eat! He didn’t care that the ubiquitous volcanic soil would leave your body totally ravaged. You see, the extensive network of wide tarmacked roads didn’t exist, nor did the continually renovated tall buildings, the cleanliness, order, modern restaurants, modern shops, name it. I remember visiting the area from my Rwanda-Uganda border home of Cyanika as a youngling in 1959 and seeing nothing but misery everywhere. Being near a better-off “Ubwongereza” (English-colonised Uganda was England to us!), we were rather better off. Today Ugandans may be seeing Rwanda as “Ubwongereza” in turn, but that’s neither here nor there. We were talking about the then-poverty in what was Murera, generally, and its city of Ruhengeri, particularly. Even by 1994, to drive through the area you had to be equipped with a stick to whip the crowd of people with jigger-infested feet out of the way. Hooting meant nothing. Banana peelings, sugarcane sheaths and all sorts of dirt littered every single spot of the dirt roads and pathways. If you walked around, you needed to be armoured! Any time a Murera (area’s inhabitant) could loudly pull the phlegm from the depths of his throat and throw it at you without a thought about it. Or close one nostril and shoot his other nostril contents towards you! That today ex-Murera has become the world’s eagerly sought-after place is the eighth wonder.