This weekend, Kigali pinnacles its celebration of 100 yeas of existence. For the past month, the attendance to the events has been noticeable, as both public and private players have been promoting the event. It’s a good reason celebrate, a good reason to get loud and laugh and sing. It is not something that happens often.
This week, though, we should hold our heads high but then focus on the future, and deciding where we want to see Kigali and ourselves go next, and how best to get there. As the city blossoms into an economic centre with vibrant trade and activity; as the banks and hotels and airlines move in, it is time to turn out attention to developing the parts of Kigali that make it a good place to live and not just a good place to do business.
Two more recent steps accent the velocity of Kigali’s development not as a city, but as a home.
The first and most important was the installation of municipal garbage bins; after the first two, dozens will be made available throughout the city. A clean Kigali is a good Kigali. A dirty, polluted Kigali makes visitors think there is something wrong or empty about the citizens.
The second is the recently unveiled Kigali City Centenary Park, the first such public park in the city and one that is hoped will grow with recreational facilities such as football fields, and tennis and basketball courts.
After all, we must live in Kigali, and the real reputation a country receives is not the army it wields or currency it disseminates, but the quality of life of those who live there.
We can do much more.
Instead of walking only from a hill to another, let us furnish the long paths with benches under shady trees, and develop the valley, where flat land is ripe for major athletic or commercial facilities.
Most importantly, though, we must look towards the next 100 years remembering how far things have come in the last 100.
So here’s to Kigali, a floating buoy amidst the green frozen rolling waves. Here’s to the moto rides along the sweeping dips between Remera and Kacyiru, as the sun is setting, when the stare of the city makes moments feel like hours. Here’s to the early damp morning, when the air is cool and here’s to the milk buyers, who peddle their goods on the back of their bicycles, still, serene and handsome. A truly beautiful city, and a truly beautiful future. Let us kiss it today and care for it as it should be loved.