As I have mentioned before, this was my first festive season in Kigali and I was looking forward to enjoying every moment of it. So I readied myself for a fun marathon supposedly to begin on Christmas Eve into the weekend that follows the New Year’s Day and then normal life would begin on Monday 5th January.
Unfortunately, there was not much to write about on Christmas day as it almost passed unnoticed. It only left me regretting why I didn’t travelled to Uganda where Christmas presents an overdose of fun for those who love their fun. So my hope was on two days.
New Year’s Eve and the first day of the year in order to compensate on the missed fun on Christmas. This expectation was supported by the perception that Rwandans attach more value to New Year’s Day than everything else.
First, I hooked up with a friend who happens to have a car so that we can explore as many places as possible on the last night of 2008 before we finally settled on a place to spend the rest of the night.
Our first stop was Remera, Kisementi at Stella VIP, we checked in at around 8pm and the hangout was a buzz with activity. Waiters crisscrossed between the bar and the kitchen area trying to serve the overflowing patrons.
I said, “Yeah, this is more like it!”. The bar was full of life and everybody seemed to celebrate 2008 as we ushered in 2009.
Couples, families, groups of young adults crammed themselves in all corners of the bar and munched away on the brochettes, washing them down with all kinds of drinks, the bitter and the sweet. It was obvious that everybody was out to have some fun and the aroma could tell.
After claiming a good portion of the sizzling brochettes and chicken wings, it was time to go but one of us was heading to a different venue to spend the rest of the night and that was at Petit Stade Remera.
As we dropped her, we realised that ‘born agains’ too have an alternative way to enter the New Year and there is no better way to enter the New Year than spending it praising the Almighty. The praise and worship filled the air as more and more people flocked the small stadium, filling it to the brim.
At 10pm, it was time to relocate to a different place and that was Serena Hotel but not before passing the Expo grounds in Gikondo where the East African Party was taking place to ascertain the situation on the ground, where we would return after watching fireworks.
The mood here was ecstatic and you could see that a lot was at stake especially with the artists lined to perform that night. The mood at Serena was serene and the crowd consisted mostly of Kigali’s A-Class.
Believe me this group of people is rarely taken up by excitement. If anything they will just smile and toast with the wine glasses but they will not jump up scream like the folks at Gikondo.
Nevertheless we stayed around to witness the fireworks display as we counted down into 2009 and for a moment, there was frenzy as the clock ticked into the New Year.
The fireworks created quite a sight in the dark night and by Kigali standards, it was a rare occasion. Personally I get some adrenalin rush at the sight of fireworks; I can’t stand the blasts and the colour show in the sky.
I start imagining that one those explosives wont go-off and we would see it return down to explode amidst us. Thank God it never happened and my friends laughed at my ‘fireworks phobia’ all the way as we were headed to Gikondo.
At Gikondo, the show wasn’t disappointing. The artists tried to entertain apart from this Tanzanian “Bintikiziwa’ boy, what is his name again?
A Zanto, something like that. He wasn’t up to the task and his dress code was disgusting, am not here to judge anyway. The tents ensured a steady supply of drinks and by 1am, souls were already acting as if they were possessed by some kind of spirit or drink to be precise.
Nameless, Juliana, DNA and Blu3 from Uganda put up spirited performances but to me the performance of the night was delivered by our home girl, Ms. Jojo, who upstaged the so called international artistes and no wonder she received a deafening applause from the appreciative crowd after performing.
By any standards, this was not what we can call an East Africa Party but we can put it back to culture of Rwandans who haven’t fully adopted the ‘party-till-you-drop’ attitude like their Ugandan and Kenyan neighbours. Nevertheless, the show was off the hook but by 2am people would be seen trickling out and off to their homes.
We also had to relocate to another place to spend the rest of the night and we settled on Planet, the club at KBC. Planet was awash with people and there was hardly a place to dance freely. It was packed and the DJ didn’t disappoint.
The music was off the hook and people mixed and mingled till 7 in the morning. Generally it was one hell of a night. A number of those who drank one too many were bungled onto police pickups and had the fair part of the morning in the shade while erratic motorists could not escape the long hand of the law - one thing that makes Rwanda a better place to live.
It doesn’t mean that since it’s the New Year people lose themselves in the celebrations. As I headed home at 7am, I realised that it was one good night celebrated sensibly.