Rwanda, the undulating and luscious “land of a thousand hills”, and a country which exhibits hope and renewal following its turbulent past. Now two decades after the genocide, Rwanda has become Africa‘s comeback kid, with efforts to clean the streets, embrace peace and encourage prosperity being extremely successful, and elevating the land back to its rightful place of revered natural beauty. Scenery seekers will not be disappointed here, with breathtaking vistas, wondrous wildlife and verdant greenery stunning at every turn.
The Rwandan Genocide of April-July 1994 was one of humanity’s most desperate episodes – a horrifying period of bloodshed when up to one million members of Rwanda’s Tutsi population were massacred by the majority Hutu government. This was one of the consequences of the Rwandan Civil War (1990-1993) – and, in turn, caused the displacement of two million more (largely Hutu) people. Bleak and depressing stuff – and if you find yourself in the capital Kigali, you should surely acknowledge it. The city’s Genocide Memorial Centre (kgm.rw) cradles the remains of some 250,000 victims of this ethnic cleansing, and makes as difficult and as disgusted a statement on man’s inhumanity to man as any similar landmark amid the “Killing Fields” of Cambodia or the concentration camps left behind by Nazi Germany. That said, while what occurred in Rwanda 23 years ago will always cast a shadow, it is not a dominating factor of life in a country that has certainly found its feet in the subsequent two decades. Since the turn of the millennium, average life expectancy has risen from 47 to 60 years.
While travelers in sub-Saharan Africa should always take the standard precautions when it comes to drinking water, personal security and other such fragments of common sense, Rwanda is a country which can be explored with reasonable confidence.