Kigali has a fresh feeling to it. There is a chill breeze that carries minimal smog. Colors are vibrant and unhidden by pollution. Built on rolling hills, Kigali seems to naturally connect urban with rural. It is as though the cityscape is nestled into the countryside. The rise and fall of the local terrain means that in many parts of the city you get a fantastic view of the surrounding area. At first you almost forget that Rwanda is in East Africa. The place is too clean and the roads too smooth. Unlike the surrounding region, Rwanda actively guards against pollution. The moto-taxi drivers, as boda bodas are called here, all wear helmets and carry an extra one that their rider is required to wear. I had to check and then double-check to confirm that cars actually drive on the right side of the road here. The people are beautiful and have a distinctive look from what I have seen throughout the rest of East Africa.
Perhaps it is just the areas of Kigali that I have been passing through but the people seem quite modern and disinterested in the presence of foreigners. The dress here is Westernized like normal but more current than elsewhere. Increasing prices, new high rise buildings, and signs of rapid development all suggest that Rwanda's, or at least Kigali's, budding economy may be moving toward affluence in the years to come. I can see why people are referring to Rwanda as the prime example of African progress.
Two things that we can hope and pray for in Rwanda are first, that the development that has benefitted the lives of those who are better off in Kigali will reach the poor around the country and improve their situations as well. Secondly, that Rwanda will overcome the tribal conflicts that have plagued its past so that all of the progress of the last 15 years will not be lost again to the problems of the past. Kigali may well be East Africa's finest city and from the signs of things this place is going to keep on getting better.