Local Liset de Klerck shows us where you should go when in Kigali, Rwanda.
Rwanda. Once the distressing epicenter of a genocide that destroyed the country, its people and their trust. But Rwanda courageously got up and now, nearly a quarter century fast forward, wants to show us a new face. One that says: be welcome, we’re doing better. And it’s true: the economy is growing, poverty rates are decreasing, there is little corruption. The streets of capital in Kigali are kept admirably clean.
The new generation contributes enthusiastically, often within the creative realm. In Kigali they open art and photo galleries, start their own label, organize dance events for less fortunate youngsters. Want to visit a hip restaurant? There are plenty. Want to go to a club? Enough choice. Hop on one the many motor taxis in town and quickly move from A to B.
Liset de Klerck lives and works in Kigali and affirms: ‘Kigali is enjoyable. The ambiance is pleasant or pleasantly exuberant. If you’re coming to Kigali, you should definitely visit the Kigali Genocide Memorial, because it teaches you about the horrible genocide and gives you a better image of the country and what it has been through. After I’d recommend one of the following addresses.’
Bistro Lounge Pili-Pili
‘Pili-Pili is a bistro and lounge where it is most fun on a Sunday afternoon. Because the place is situated on a hill, you have an exquisite view over the city (romantic sunset, anyone?). Furthermore, there’s a swimming pool, good food, great drinks and a souvenir shop with stuff you don’t need but want to have.’
> Pili-Pili, KG 303 St, Kigali, Rwanda
‘Casa Keza is a cafe by day and a Spanish tapas bar by night. Via a shop filled with beautiful handmade items you step into the colorful restaurant. And via the colorful restaurant you step onto a cozy porch that provides access to an intimately lit garden. The food is dangerously tasty, just as the sangria. Want to learn the tango? Casa Keza offers dance courses.’
> Casa Keza, 4, KG 573 St, Kigali, Rwanda
‘At GotBuns you’ll find great hamburgers with great fries for a friendly price. It’s the cooler and slightly healthier brother of McDonald’s – who isn’t present in Rwanda. A Big Mac is called Bun Mafia and is much bigger and tastier than the actual Big Mac, just saying.’
> GotBuns, KG 550 St Kacyiru, Kigali, Rwanda
Art Café Kigali
‘A delightful space with big windows, climbing plants that enthusiastically clamber up the walls, sophisticated wooden furniture and a relaxed ambiance. For those who need to work a bit: this is a perfect spot. Go in the morning and order breakfast (avocado on toast, fresh fruit, an omelette). Not big on breakfasts? They serve lunch, too.’
> Art Café Kigali, KG 2 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda
‘Another perfect place for the digital nomad (or for those who just seek something calm and easygoing). They offer good WiFi, good coffee, good food and you can enjoy all of it while you gaze at their amazing interior, too bad that’s the one thing that’s not for sale… Shokola has two locations: the one in Kimihurura has a lovely buffet on Sundays, the one in Kacyiru has a rooftop bar.’
> Shokola, KPL Rooftop, KN 8 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda
Inema Arts Center
‘Inema Arts Center is a gallery being run by six charming brothers who are all talented artists themselves. With the likes of Sarkozy and the Clintons you may assume that’s true. Swing by to see or buy the art. Want to dance instead? On Thursday evenings it’s happy hour at Inema Arts Center. With deejays. And cocktails.’
> Inema Arts Center, KG 563 St, Kigali, Rwanda
Night Club Envy
‘Want to dance some more after happy hour? Go to Club Envy. Also a fun place to be on a Friday and Saturday night. It’s ever packed, there are no windows and the air conditioning works whenever it feels like it. But that really doesn’t matter. Envy is great. You’ll dance to P-Square, Tiwa Savage and Tekno and if you don’t know how to dance afro, no worries: there are plenty people who are more than happy to show you.’
> Club Envy, 1-17 KG 674 St, Kigali, Rwanda
‘Want a light version of Envy? Sundowner is your answer. On the terrace you can chill or, if you feel like busting a move, dance. Going there on a Friday or Saturday evening is most fun.’
> Sundowner, KG 625 St, Kigali, Rwanda
‘Feel like bowling, swimming, playing some beach volley or do you seek a place where your kids can enjoy a playground? Go to Mamba. Also there: great food, nice music and a place to sleep. Next to bowling center, swimming pool, restaurant, playground and beach volley hotspot, Mamba is a hostel, too.’
> Mamba, KG 680 St, Kigali, Rwanda
Kigali Center for Photography
‘Kigali Center for Photography is the first and so far only photography gallery of Kigali. Founder and photographer Jacques Nkinzingabo shows his work and those of other talented national and international photographers. Regularly Nkinzingabo organizes photography expeditions through town and throws events at the gallery.’
> Kigali Center For Photography, KG 5 Ave, Kigali, Rwanda
The Women’s Bakery
‘The Women’s Bakery is a social enterprise committed to empowering women through education and business. In Kigali you can visit their beautifully decorated bakery slash lunchroom where you can sit down, relax (or work if you wish, they offer free WiFi) and enjoy a variety of breads, tea and French press coffee.’ Learn how The Women’s Bakery came about.
> The Women’s Bakery, 13, KG 176 St, Kigali, Rwanda
‘Not a bar, nor restaurant, but the biggest music festival of East Africa: Kigali Up. Kigali’s annual music festival features world music, blues, hip hop, funk and roots artists from around the globe. From Alpha Blondy to Patoranking.’