As Rwanda fills up with tourists, PAULUS KAYIGGWA asks why they have come.
Ashley Nadal, a Canadian student in Liverpool University, United Kingdom is among a group of five on a visit to Rwanda.
Nadal said that the motive behind their visit, just like many other Canadians who come to Rwanda, is to visit the memorial sites and try to establish for themselves exactly what caused the Genocide.
He added that the information that is heard or read can easily be doubted especially when it concerns the death of massive numbers of people.
“We had the privilege to interact with some survivors at the Kigali National Memorial Centre yesterday and we discussed many issues that caused Genocide in the country. It’s horrifying, yes, and shocking, I saw displays of skulls, bones and even preserved corpses which present an accurate depiction of the brutality and inhumanity of killings that took place,” a sorrowful Nadal said.
He further noted during the discussion with survivors, they told them that even religious leaders by then were central in betraying and killing of innocent people.
“We are very disappointed with many churches in the country which were supposed to protect people that were futilely gathered hoping for refuge but instead their leaders just alerted Genocide perpetrators leading to ghastly massacres,” he said.
Nadal further added that they are planning to visit other memorial centers in the period of a month to discover more about those brutal events.
However, as part of their visit to the country, Nadal added that the group also plans to tour other interesting places in the country.
“We planning to visit the spectacular volcanoes, dense tropical forests in north of the country, gentle hills and valleys, lakes and turbulent rivers, vegetation and Akagera National Park in the east which teems with wildlife which range from lions, giraffes, elephants and hippopotamus to hyena, impala and the gazelle,” he noted.
He added that if time allows them, they will also try to visit Nyungwe forest which is said to have different types of birds and also the source of the River Nile that John Speake forgot to discover.
“We want to establish allegations and to break the contradictions embedded in various geographical books that the source of River Nile is in Uganda-Jinja,” Nadal said anxiously.
Belgian Philip Johns is here for a holiday. He said that people are afraid to come to Rwanda because of the Genocide.
“But because of security in the country, we feel secure and we choose to come to Rwanda even for leisure purposes,” Johns noted.
“Rwanda is politically stable and anybody is able to travel to any part of the country at any time without fear; nobody would want to take a vacation in a country which is insecure,” he said.
He further said that Rwanda’s reputation on the international scene has drastically improved ever since the Genocide that people from other countries now fight to visit it.
“Only fourteen years after the Genocide, it is amazing to many people how Rwandans have managed to set realistic goals and achieve them in such a short period of time which has attracted many of us,” Johns noted.
When one compares Rwandans with other people of the East African Community, Rwandans are more sociable, kind and welcoming than others which has given visitors confidence to come and stay in the country happily, he said.
“Rwandans are such good people that anybody who meets them wonders how terrible things like Genocide could have happened in such a country with such great people,” John remarked.
Sarah Bornmunge, a South African on a five day visit to Rwanda, has come for the culture.
“I am here purposely to visit the Nyanza Palace and the burial ground for Rwanda’s ancient kings in southern Rwanda,” she said.
She added that discovering and learning more about tribal customs and cultures in Africa’s, language, etiquette and numerous kingship rituals that form part of marriage customs in Africa will in turn mould the very fiber of our various societies.
“Our African cultural activities give people the opportunity to participate in ancient African traditions including tribal dance and meal routines and give a bridge to these new modern societies,” she said.
Johnson Lambert, an American tourist, said his purpose of visiting Rwanda was to attend the recent gorilla naming function, Kwita Izina, which took place in Ruhengeri Northern Province.
“I got the information of the function on the website and I wanted exactly to see how the naming of these gorillas is done, it was interesting and I liked it,” Lambert said
He further acknowledges the effort of the Rwanda Office for Tourism (ORTPN) of preserving the environment and the wildlife.
He has hopes of touring the National Museum in Butare, which houses perhaps the finest ethnographic collection in East Africa.