The return of Cadillac

Inside the new Cadillac Night Club. Faustin Niyigena

Kigali’s night club scene welcomes its latest addition, the all new Cadillac Night Club this Friday. Located at the basement of the UTC building in Downtown Kigali, the club bounces back to reclaim its former glory, seven years after the original Cadillac Night Club in Kimihurura closed shop.

For the last couple of months, construction workers have been hard at work, transforming a section of the spacious basement parking at the popular shopping mall into a sound proof night club. Apart from the sound proofing, the club boasts a prime location, and secure, ample parking.

Widely described as the trendiest and most popular night spot in Kigali, the first Cadillac Night Club was gutted by a mysterious fire on the night of November 17, 2012, reducing property worth over Rwf 400 million to rubble. Furniture, kitchen appliances, sound and lighting equipment, and beverage stocks were among the items lost in the fire. The fact that a large part of the club’s roofing was thatched in grass only aggravated the damage.

At the time, it was the most popular night spot in Kigali, with a night club, a VIP club, kid’s amusement park, coffee shop, and a restaurant called Mama Africa.

Shortly after it was razed down, the owner, Eugene Habimana, better known as Cobra, had promised to revamp the club within months, but the months slowly turned into years—seven years.

But it was in Bujumbura, the capital of neighbouring Burundi that the story of Cadillac begun, in 1988, before moving to Kigali. At the time, Cobra was living in Bujumbura with his family. In 1994, just months after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, he relocated to Kigali and set up Cadillac Night Club.

Eugene Habimana, alias Cobra, the owner of the nightclub. Faustin Niyigena

When the club was gutted by a fire in late 2012, Cobra moved back to Bujumbura and quickly revived the nightclub.

In Bujumbura, business did not go as anticipated, owing to the political instability in the country.

However Cobra pressed on.

‘We never stopped work. There was Cocobean Bar and Restaurant, which is still there, and there was the sound,” explained Cobra in an interview earlier this week.

“This is my work. I’m not the kind of person to sit in an office as a manager or director. This is my work, so I had to fight to get back into it. Even when you’re a boxer and you are knocked out, you must get back on your feet.”

Apart from Cocobean, Cobra recently launched Coconut Kigali, an amusement and theme park located in Kacyiru.

According to Cobra, the club will be open seven nights a week.

‘“This country is becoming more popular as a destination. Many people are coming to the country, but at night they don’t have where to go.”