A life across two continents

Ingabire Nellie is best described as a patriotic, passionate and innovative woman. The sense confidence in her and the grace truly indicates that there is a clear future of nationalism in her.
Nellie Ingabire
Nellie Ingabire

Ingabire Nellie is best described as a patriotic, passionate and innovative woman. The sense confidence in her and the grace truly indicates that there is a clear future of nationalism in her.

Seating nervously alone in her living room at Kicukiro residence, waiting to have an interview, I steal a swift gaze around the interior of her house which is decorated with appeasing cultural designs.

Trying not to be caught gaping around, I took another quick look further to the long stretched corridor leading towards the bedrooms. My eyes instantly catch a family photo, hung on the wall which later reveals the prime reason behind her numerous trips between Rwanda and Sweden.

She appears from the bedroom. One immediately notice her allure and liveliness from the sound of her footsteps and pace of words that strongly illuminate an entrepreneurial trait.

“If someone prepares a dish, I always want to do it differently. If the person started with vegetables I will start with meat,” explaining her uniqueness.

30-year-old, Ingabire, was born with only a sister. She still recounts a past incident that laid the foundation for her passion in cooking.

“At the age of seven, I was expected to know how to cook, but I didn’t do it the way my auntie wanted,” Ingabire recalls, “She later hired a professional chef to teach me. It is then that I got attached to cooking.”

After high school, Ingabire did a course as hotelier from Uganda, where she was brought up from and studied from.
Broiling with an ambition as a hotelier and a need for perfection she sought for better training to get to the height of her profession.

“I later got an opportunity to go to Sweden and repeated the course in hotel management and also did tourism,” she said.

In a strange twist of events, since completion, she has been a florist which is out of her professional line. 

“Every summer I go back to Sweden and I work as a florist. Right now am going to be away for two months,” she said. 

However, little did Ingabire know that she would kick start a future of traveling between countries.

Five years ago, a low budget wedding in Rwanda cemented her relationship with Bjorn Lunden a Swedish economist and author.

But the decision to marry a Swedish also condemned her to inevitably dedicate marital loyalty to Sweden.

“To the surprise of many, I cooked at my wedding. The whole wedding cost me about Rwf700, 000,” she explained.

But the low budget wedding, at which she cooked a Mongolian barbeque dish called uuoke, reawakened the long unutilized hotelier profession which caught the eye of those that attended.

“I have cooked this dish at eight to ten weddings since my wedding,” she remembers.   

Creatively, she has maintained her summer job as a florist that coincides with the time frame of her dedicated family visits.

Asked how she will eventually settle down, Ingabire doesn’t seem to know and only maintains that she is torn between the two countries.

“I love Rwanda so much. All my investments should be in Rwanda. I just want to invest here because it is home,” she said.

She has already bought a piece of land in Nyamata where she hails from and promises that she is going to turn it into a camping site.

Following the buying of the piece of land, as a show of patriotism under the theme- ‘let us thank the government for the developments’ Ingabire mobilized her friends and threw a concert in Nyamata.

“We prepared quarter marathon, a showcasing and a concert.It is amazing how Rwanda has developed and what the government is doing. I just wanted to thank them,” she said

She points out one of the developments as Bugesera-Nyamata road that leads to her village.

But before she goes to Sweden to find her husband and job, Ingabire has to make sure that her two children studying in Uganda are fine.

“The time I travel to Sweden during summer is the right timing. My children are at school,” she said.

Currently, she is also tangled up with the new site project in Nyamata that is scheduled to be operational by the start of next year.


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