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Kigali, the most organized and cleanest city in Africa

Terrence T. White |
Kigali, Rwanda is not what you'd think when you think about Africa: this is the safest city in Africa, excellently organized, clean, and still a truly African place.

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br> Rwanda, an East African country, is the total opposite of its neighbors when it i sabout a clean environment. A lot of are made to promote a clean environment, and it was one of the first countries to ban plastic bags. Streets are extremely clean and it is especially visible in its capital Kigali. So, when you arrive there don't even think to carry your stuff in some plastic bag, it will be confiscated at the airport, and it's not cool to go against local habits in one of the world's cleanest countries.

Kigali is a perfect example of the local African culture mixed with several influences, but we advise you to first forget about foreign cuisine, pizza, sushi, and other things you can find everywhere in the world. Instead, grilled meat or fish on a stick called brochettes, roasted and marinated pork akabenz, and numerous vegetable and potato dishes should be on your menu. After you get some energy from local food, it's time to visit and explore Kigali's neighborhoods.

Everyone will tell you to visit Kimihurura, Kiyovu, and Kacyiru because you will find big hotels and the best restaurants there, but take a look and move on. Kigali is much more. The huge market in Kimironko is something you will remember for the rest of your life, and Nyamirambo has beautiful streets full of life, while Kimisagara is almost a gallery in the open full of colorful murals. Just remember if you are going around with a snack in your hand, or even just an apple, you won't be welcomed.

People there think about outdoor eating as a disrespectful thing so eat how much you want but inside a restaurant or a place for that. The same stands true for taking photos. Of course you will take photos of everything around you but don't take a photo where people are clearly visible without their permission. You might be asked for the money but in general they will find that offensive and ask you to delete the photo. That's simply the local habit so respect it.

Kigali's first art gallery Ivuka Arts was opened in 2007 in the Kacyiru neighbourhood, so it's new stuff for the city, but today there are around ten galleries where you may see not only works of young artists but also enjoy many events organized there. In the Niyo Art Gallery artists who exhibit donate a portion of their profits to Niyo Cultural Center. Its purpose here is to take street kids off the streets and offer them a place where they can learn how to sing, drum and dance.

Maybe you will be surprised, as we were, to find that that there is a cricket stadium but there is, Gahanga. Opened in 2017 and inspired in its look by countries' hills. The point is that it has been built in the place of one of the genocide's worst massacres. The captain of Rwanda's cricket team Eric Dusingizimana spent 51 hours batting, setting a world record, and raising the money for the stadium. From there you can have a great view of the city. And don't talk about genocide.

Talking about buildings and their amenities, the INZORA rooftop café in the city center is the place for great coffee. In Rwanda and Kigali coffee is special but this is top. Everything is localy sourced, from coffee to chairs, and if you bring a reusable cup you will get a big smile from locals. If you don't never mind, they will give you a cup. Compostable, of course. In Question Coffee you can take part in master classes, and in Magda Café in Kacyiru you can get freshly baked pastries to complement a fantastic coffee.

The city has great architecture, from historic buildings to new hotels, and you will notice that it's full of parks and gardens. And of course you will wander a bit off Kigali to see the country's famous gorillas in Nyungwe Forest National Park, then go to Akagera National Park to see animals of all kinds and 500 species of birds, all near the town. Kigali will surprise you. It is a clean and beautiful oasis in the middle of Africa, far from usual African problems, yet still with its heritage and authenticity.

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