Muhanga Town: A blend of old and new surroundings

Muhanga town, approximately 45km South West of Kigali has an estimated population of over 100,000 people. It is connected by three major roads to other towns like Butare, Kibuye, Gisenyi, Ruhengeri which makes it a strategic business hub.

Muhanga town, approximately 45km South West of Kigali has an estimated population of over 100,000 people.

It is connected by three major roads to other towns like Butare, Kibuye, Gisenyi, Ruhengeri which makes it a strategic business hub.

At only Rwf 900, a bus trip from Nyabugogo taxi terminal in Kigali takes you through unending bends.

The first thing you notice as you enter the town is a blend of old, red tiled residential cottages that seemingly date back to the 1970’s and a  breed of  flashy multi-storey commercial buildings. It’s quite extraordinary actually.

You can’t help but hear the loud music that seems to come from countless kiosks all over the place. Unlike other towns in Rwanda, noise pollution laws don’t seem to exist here.

“This pollution worsens at night, we have asked local authorities to find a way of curbing it, but we haven’t got any response so far,” says Gerrard Nzuzi, a resident.  

The kind of hustle and bustle here is synomous to that of a typical town in Uganda. It’s evident that it is a fast growing town.

“Plans are already underway by local authorities to craft the town into the second biggest business centre in the country,” reveals David Umuyoboro, another town resident.

This place is not starved of recreation centres. Just in the heart of the town lies Ahazaza Entertainment Centre which offers facilities like conference halls, bars and restaurants, and also regularly hosts events like music concerts, movie screenings, and weddings.

Other hospitality centres in this place are hotels like Splendid (the high-end kind)where a plate of food ranges from Rwf 3,000 to 3,500. Drinks range from  Rwf 500 to 700, and a night’s accommodation ranges from Rwf 12,000 - 18,000 per night. Other nooks in this category are Real and African Hills Hotels.

Just about half a kilometre outside Muhanga town lies the oldest cathedral in the country, Basilica of Our Lady, Kabgayi. It is a massive redbrick building built in 1923 by the Belgian colonial rulers. This centre also has an extension with a hospital, two schools and a recreation centre.

During the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi, thousands of Tutsis who had taken refuge here were killed. It is estimated that out of 50,000 people, only less than 10,000 survived. 

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