YEAR ENDER - The year 2007 is no more. It had blessings and everything that could describe an eventful year. The year showcased Rwanda’s ability of hosting vast conferences coupled with its hospitality. But there was no ceremony in the year that could rival the Kigali centenary celebrations.
The festivities came with a host of events that truly defined the city today from that of 1907 when it was a small colonial outpost administered by German, Richard Kandt.
One of the events which marked the anniversary was a road-and-street naming exercise overseen by Premier Bernard Makuza during which two Kigali City roads were renamed.
The road from Prince House junction in Remera to Kigali City centre main roundabout is now Africa Union Boulevard while the route from Kigali International Airport to Kimuhurura roundabout near Kigali Business Centre (KBC) is Kigali International Airport Boulevard.
Rwanda’s first ever public recreation park was inaugurated in Kimihurura as a sign that Rwandans were not only heading for a safe, clean and green city, but also one full of entertainment. The celebrations also came with a move that will turn the city into a more proactive one after city authorities launched the 24-hour operation for the business community.
When a summit that brought together several regional mayors finally came to an end, the skies of Kigali became alive in a colourful fireworks display accompanied by South Africa’s Chaka Chaka and Ugandan songbird Juliana Kanyomozi at the Amahoro National Stadium.
The year came with high profile conferences that any country would have loved to host. Kigali’s gates were opened to the outside world when the 2007 HIV/Aids Implementers’ Meeting was held in June. Rwanda was chosen to host the meeting in recognition of its leadership in the fight against HIV/Aids and the impressive results it has achieved. Under the theme; ‘Scaling up through partnerships’, the meeting attracted hundreds of delegates from around the world.
The story did not end there. In recognition of its advancement in the Information Technology (ICT) field, Rwanda hosted the African Heads of State Connect Africa Summit in October. It was a major initiative where strategies were laid on how to accelerate broadband and wireless connectivity in Africa.
Rwanda also hosted the 14th session of the African, Caribbean and Pacific and the European Union (ACP-EU) joint Parliamentary Assembly in November which saw President Paul Kagame calling on the international community to intervene and have peace restored in the war-ravaged Somalia.
In an effort to chart ways aimed at reducing aid dependency and stimulating economic growth, the annual Development Partners Meeting (DPM) was also held in November. In her speech, the UK Minister for International Development, Shriti Vadera, called for a review of the existing studies on the Rwandan economy as part of efforts towards a new partnership to accelerate the country’s growth.
The list of visitors to Kigali in the past year is endless. The visit by members of Britain’s Conservative Party in July could pass as the most memorable one. Over 40 members of the party including eight Members of Parliament arrived in Kigali a week ahead of their leader, David Cameron’s visit.
The Tories, as they are known, engaged in voluntary work across the country, visited Genocide memorial sites and paid glowing tribute to Rwandans for their achievements barely fifteen years after the 1994 Genocide.
On his arrival, Cameron launched a report of their policy paper on global poverty at the Parliament. He stated that the main reason developing countries remained poor was because they are denied the opportunity to do trade with rich nations.
He pointed an accusing finger at politicians who talked of trade as a long-term prosperity and called for the removal of trade barriers, which affect developing countries.
In sports and leisure, Rwanda hosted international tennis player Martina Navratilova and Hollywood movie star Ben Affleck. The film star was reportedly on a reconnaissance trip to discover investment opportunities in Rwanda. In the religious corridors, Ugandan televangelist Robert Kayanja was here for a crusade that attracted tens of thousands of believers seeking spiritual healings at Amahoro Stadium.
But the hand of death did not let 2007 go scot-free; it was there to remind Rwandans that amongst them were are those who still harboured the Genocide ideology. Sixteen Genocide survivors were brutally killed in different provinces of the country.
The country also lost some of her wealthy businesspersons like Mzee Vedaste Rubangura and international telecommunication magnate, Miko Rwayitare. Former Chief Justice Simeon Rwagasore also breathed his last in King Faisal Hospital last year. Millions of Rwandans also mourned South Africa’s reggae star Lucky Dube, who had a big following in Rwanda.