“Though locals try to avoid talking to tourists about the appalling events which happened here in 1994, the visitor has trouble putting from his mind what he has read. A visitor to Rwanda will experience an African world at once impoverished and somehow idyllic, with friendly, peaceful inhabitants. It’s simply impossible to imagine how such barbarism could have happened so recently.” (B.R. 2015)
“In the capital, there are modern buildings and good quality hotels, and the roads are in good condition. Of course, once you get out into the countryside and off the main roads, you drive down dirt tracks through the jungle to places with no infrastructure whatsoever, where people live in huts with earth floors, getting up and going to bed with the rising and setting of the sun.
Rwanda is a beautiful country, called the ‘Land of a Thousand Hills’ on account of its varied geography. We drove all across the country, and hardly saw a single square foot of land lying fallow: everywhere they were growing corn, bananas, potatoes or tea.” (2017)
The first things that struck me were the order and cleanliness, and the silence. I was happy with the former because I was tired of the constant chaos of other countries, but a knowledge of history made the latter more depressing. Both aspects were true all across the country, giving it a totally different atmosphere to other African countries I’ve been to.
Quietness is characteristic of life here – they don’t listen to loud music in the street, don’t yell at passing acquaintances, form orderly lines rather than a rowdy mass, and the modern cars and motorbike aren’t noisy (of the latter for some reason there seemed to be only one brand on the roads).
Of the people we met and talked to, for some reason everyone seemed to have relatives exclusively among the victims of the violence, though I don’t suppose anyone would tell a complete stranger that he or his father was a murderer. The driver of our hire car was a child at that time and survived the massacre in the hotel we know as Hotel Rwanda, thanks to the film based on the events that took place. We stayed in the same hotel, but there were no memorials or reminders, just the usual silence. Still, I’d gladly recommend this country to anyone looking for its beauty, peace, and order. A little slice of Switzerland in Africa.” (D. T. 2016)
“Somehow the name still has strange vibes. Even today, 17 years after the infamous massacre in which nearly a million people lost their lives. Rwanda still has a sort of scary feeling to it. Where such an event was possible, anything is possible. The curiosity that drove me there was accompanied by more than a little fear, but I can't deny that I wanted to experience the dazzling volcanic world of the Virunga Mountains, experience today's Rwanda, and meet children who, like me, only know at second hand of all the horrors that took place before their birth, but also to see the people who experienced or even participated in the horrors.
It would have been good to talk to people about whether, after all these years, the events of that time were a topic among them at all, or whether the survivors buried the horrors they had experienced, but I didn’t have much of a chance to do so. I had no idea how much of a taboo it was, or whether it was possible to talk to anyone about it... During my stay there I did not see any signs of any scary or frightening things, but the constant alarm of my Ugandan companion that the Rwandans might at any moment reach for their machetes, planted a sort of bug in my ear. So, Rwanda. Incredible place. In at least one respect, at any rate. Anyone who has been to other African or poorer Asian countries may have become accustomed to the sight of garbage piled everywhere. And I mean everywhere. In front of houses, on the street, in the canals... everywhere.
Well, Rwanda is like walking in Austria. People told me before I went that at the border they would take all the plastic bags out of my rucksack, and that I’d only be allowed in with paper bags. This didn’t happen, but the fact is, there is no rubbish in Rwanda. NONE. Such astonishing levels of purity and orderliness are experienced only when crossing the Austrian border. Village poverty is appalling, as in Uganda, but flowers bloom even in front of the last hovel in the village, and there’s no litter anywhere. Almost unbelievable. The roads are surprisingly good, and every last foot of viable land is cultivated.”