Rwanda-the country of thousand hills, Gorilla and Akabanga

J. I. Mamun
Collected Photo

Collected Photo

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We the people of Bangladesh feel uneasy when we hear the name of Africa, even we get scared. So this Rwanda visit also created some sort of uneasiness within me. We started for Rwanda in the morning of March 22 under the leadership of Bangladesh Consul General in Rwanda Iqbal Hossain Chowdhury with a delegation of 11 members in an Emeritus flight via Dubai. After a long stoppage there the flight took off towards Kigali, capital of Rwanda. All were black colored people in that flight except our eleven from Bangladesh.

Our plane touches at Kigali airport in the small hours of March 23. At that moment the golden sun was just peeping the blue Rwandan sky. The Kigali was seen as a small green

City in the light-dark scenario around hills and valleys. Before landing the pilot informed us about the climate and temperature of the city. He also informed us to drop the plastic and poly bags at the airport because it is forbidden in the city. It was later seen that even the wrapped plastic bags were torn out by the airport security men from the new comers at Rwanda. During next five days we became astonished to observe there was no piece of plastic or papers in Rwanda streets and in adjoining areas where we travelled. It is surprising that the people are how much law abiding. 

From the airport we started for Congo bordering Lake City Giseni. By road the journey was for four hours. The road was built by cutting hills displaying a beautiful natural scene of the nature. Different kinds of flowers blossomed by the road side. I was taking snaps of this beauty while moving forward. But there was no ditch on the road in such a long journey. I did not hear any horn of any vehicle or overtaking.

We took our break fast on way at Ruhengiri making a stop over. A small arranged town. No hassle of transports. In the break fast table all were unknown items. It had banana, sweet potato and kashava. There was not much rice and bread. But the use of banana in making varieties of items charmed us. They take banana more as vegetable from preparing barbeque to fry of banana. They mix ripe banana with fish and potato. Those amongst us were adventure lover also enjoyed it. However such adventure did not last long so we were in search of Indian restaurant for the rest of our stay.

It was then noon when we reached at Serena hotel by the side of Lake Kivu. It was something like a sea when we looked at the lake located bordering Congo. It is a vast lake having no shores or end. Some get morning walk, some lye on the lake-shore, some swim, some do surfing, some roam about on boat, none looks at any one, no problem of security or hassling at all. This Lake Kivu is one of the main tourist spot in Rwanda. The whether of Rwanda is very much comfortable. The temperature of Rwanda remains within 18 to 25 degree all throughout the year.  So this neither hot or nor cold gave us pleasant soothing. It rains occasionally but do not last long.

As I have started talking about tourism the discussion about gorilla should be made. People call Rwanda as the country of thousand hills. There are few big mountains created by the lava of the dead volcanoes. The near extinct animals known as gorilla are still there on such mountain tops. The most known and biggest brand in Rwanda is gorilla. So the sculptures of gorillas are found by the side of roads, hotels and restaurants and coffee shops.  But we were not fortunate enough to see that endangered animal because we had no ticket to see them. Again the cost of each ticket is 1500 US dollar. Rwandan government gives strict protection to this animal whose behavior similar to human being.

On the first day we came in contact with a new variety of food. A yellow liquid substance contained in like homeopath bottle if given on food just two to three drops then the food becomes spicy as well full of pungent smell. This is called Akabanga made from oil of chilly. Akabanga became very fond to us so we named our group as Akabanga group. While returning to our country the Invitation authority presented us with Akabanga. I prefer spicy curry and so long I thought the Tabasco sauce of Mexico was considered to me as most spicy but now this Akabanga changed my idea. The organizer of this visit was Iqbal Hossain Chowdhury, Consul General and managing director of Bangladesh PHP group. Though we were 11 at the time of start our visit, the number increased to 17 within two days. The newly arrived visitors’ purpose was to join the CEO conference to be held in Africa. Our team included CEO of Ekushey TV and journalist leader Manjurul Ahasan Bulbul, director of ATN Bnagla singer Chndan Sinha, Bangladesh Protidin editor Noem Nizam, Bhorer Kagaj editor Shaymal Dutta, former DG of Passport and Immigration Major General Masud Rizwan, business men Alamgir Shahin, Syed Md. Iqbal, Manjur Alam and PHP group communication chief Nazmul Ahsan. Besides, Gourab Malhotra from Singapore, Nahidul Hassan from the Netherlands, Eklobya sing and Topon Roy from India joined us. We expressed our thanks to Iqbal Bhai for this nice and pleasant trip. Due to flawless arrangement Rwanda became our ‘Home’ for few days. Here I must mention the name Eric Kaygi, a high official of Rwandan foreign ministry. A handsome and smart guy he was, accompanied us from March 23 to next five days and he did not leave any stone unturned to make our trip pleasant and meaningful. He also bade farewell to us at the airport on the night of March 27.  

Our first night passed by the side of Lake Kivu in the Serena hotel. At the initiative of Eric a cultural function and barbeque were arranged. The traditional dance of that country charmed us which were followed by melodies of Chnadan Sinha, our fellow in the trip.  Next day we returned to capital Kigali. On our way we found small market places but none on the roads. The village markets were situated at least 50/100 yards from the road. On our way back our transport halted for few minutes crossing the dividing line of the road. As soon as police rushed to the spot as we stopped at a wrong place we were rescued by Eric. He made the police understand and got us released. The discipline on the road reminded me about the road discipline of Bangladesh!

The political history of modern Rwanda is very pathetic. In an ethnic conflict of 1994 that lasted for three months about eight lakh people were killed. The Rwandan genocide is one of the worst of the genocides of the world. During that ethnic war present president Paul Kagami became president in 2000 who is also their undisputed leader. So he is elected time and again with the support of more than 90 percent ballots cast in his favor.  

We went to Genocide Memorial after reaching Kigali. In that museum there are pictures, articles, skull of the dead people, blood stained cloths, documents of serious human rights violations, used materials of the dead people. It almost resembles our Liberation War Museum. There exists mass grave and pictures of genocide by the side of memorial. However that genocide brought radical change in the politico scenario of Rwanda. The divided nation became united solidly and miraculously. The divided ethnicity is not as their sect or color but one nation- Rwanda.  Their NID does not contain the information of their parents or religion so that no division arises. The state is very much alert about this ethnicity. This helped Rwanda to become a modern state in 20-25 years. On the last Saturday the state observes cleaning day when all people right from the head of the government jumped out to clean own house premises, nearby roads and put the wastes in at definite bin.  One cannot believe how neat and clean Rwanda is!

The story of Rwanda cannot be finished in one piece of writing but there is embargoes from the editor that it cannot be made larger. When in the night of March 27 we left Rwanda in an Airbus 350 for Dhaka via Dubai one question was jolting in my head that how in 25 years after such genocide Rwanda turned back country in such an way towards prosperity and discipline then why we failed to bring discipline in our life after 48 years of our liberation at the cost of the lives to 30 lakh people!  

Courtesy by: The Daily Bangladesh Pratidin