Nyamirambo’s melting pot

Every evening, along the one way streets of Nyamirambo, empty pavements suddenly burst into lively, bubbly life of young men trying their hand at business, selling all sorts of second hand clothes, sneakers, jumpers, sweaters, name it.

Every evening, along the one way streets of Nyamirambo, empty pavements suddenly burst into lively, bubbly life of young men trying their hand at business, selling all sorts of second hand clothes, sneakers, jumpers, sweaters, name it.

The pedestrians weave around the amateur business people and their unaccustomed clients haggling, people bump into each other, while their heads are turned to look at this or that. Without saying, a silent forgiveness passes from mind to mind; we are all into this beautiful mess of hyper activity, cars hooting here, music blaring there, laughter ringing somewhere, people going nowhere but about.

The mass movement of people and groups of people will leave you thinking, that after a hard day’s work, the city empties into the narrow streets of Nyamirambo, one of the ten imirenge (sectors) of Kigali, happy to reach the end of the day.

In its small unique restaurants, hiding under plain structures, patrons pull chairs and order for their favorite mixtures of dishes, from mafriti (potato chips) to fried banana fingers or their steamed, mashed rival, macaroni and maize meal, pilau or sweet potato or cassava, soaked in beef, chicken or fresh fish, escorted by beans or a delicious dish of dodo, amaranthus leaves, and go ahead to argue about anything, while their taste buds

They shout out to the ever-alert waiters for water in different languages, Kinya-rwanda, and different dialects of Swahili, as the ever beautiful presenter on Rwanda Television summarises the evening prime news, right in the corner, on a screen that is appropriately placed so that when Desree starts crooning Fire, eyes glue onto her image to take minds off the good simple food, and the troubles of the day.

The barber shops buzz with activity, queues of clients sit by to await their favorite barber to work the shaving machines onto their skulls and reduce their perceived ages by a few years if not months. The therapeutic moment of sitting in front a huge mirror and stare at yourself, unearthing and admiring the hidden handsomeness in your image, occasionally allowing the lull of moving metal of your head skin to tempt you to close your eyes and take a nap.

The minutes into which the transformation from an old tired working servant with uneven hair, to the clean shaven citizen full of hope ready to take on another day, like a physical rebirth. The restorative head massage, pleasant warm water, some oil here, some powder there, settling ones thought.

Cosmopolitan Nyamirambo is a melting pot of sorts. A few Tanzanians whose parents and grand parents settled and bought land here, the Ugandans and Kenyans who work in the industrial places, a good population of business-doing Senegalese, all these intermingling, intermarrying with the natives, is evident in the food that the restaurants serve, the languages they speak, the unconscious mannerisms, all makes Nyamirambo more than just a small trading centre near a capital.

ou will discover a culinary wonder, appropriately known as kaboxi, a perfect thinking out of the box intelligence, a lot of tasty boiled meat in a metallic dish, prepared without a drop of foreign oil, full of its own soup, inviting to be devoured, the natural taste of cooking, moderate heat on tender naked flesh, gives one the feeling of ingesting unadulterated healthy food.

After you have eaten out in those high or middle range classy restaurants, with dozens of highly colored, strongly flavored continental dishes, from this continent or that ethnic community, the endless buffets that sometimes taste all the same, it is good to rediscover a good traditional meal where the careful or automatic production of the age old indigenous taste of food is of highest priority, of chefs who have learnt how to learn cooking and how to cook properly from proprietors who have been handed down the business of running a small business and cooking good dishes down the family tree.

On weekends, the week day evening noises change into day time excitement over the next local or foreign soccer match, cars blaring their horns, spotting flags of favorite local clubs headed for the match venue or in different direction displaying the joy of supporting a winning side on their sleeves.

Video halls become centers of attraction as young men mill about waiting for them to open around their notice boards, arguing about who would win the season’s player of the year or who was going to dodge who in the day’s premiership’s matches.

The proprietors of small but well stocked clothes shops are eager to woo crowds in to admiring the latest tour trousers or branded soccer jerseys, or locally produced flowery cotton shirts, or brand new appearing second hand sneakers.

Occasionally the soccer madness wins them over, as they jump right into their arguments like it was a new innovative way of selling there wares, out selling the much cheaper, much older rival products hanging onto shoulders and outstretched hands of their meeker competitors.

Music studios blare music away, cosmetic shops buzz with omen and girls, pool tables are surrounded by crowds of keen youth cheering, advising or staring at the two cue-holding players.

Away from those hours of public madness, Nyamirambo looks like a deserted trading centre, with its one way streets, empty and clean, big fuel guzzling cars zooming by, a few people hanging in and around of the buildings, lying in wait for the big evening business.


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