It was a peaceful Saturday evening here in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda. I felt like working out but gyms were closed. If this was a typical pre-COVID Saturday, I would probably go to Ram’s Lounge (my local pub) to watch soccer. Like gyms, bars were closed too.
I ended up taking a walk down the hill and proceeded to the Nyandungu wetland. This valley used to be a mosquito breeding ground but things are changing. The area is undergoing a massive facelift.
Today, there are beautifully paved walkways around the park. Yes, the old mosquito breeding zone is now an urban recreation and eco-tourism park. The transformation of the wetland into a park is not complete yet. As a matter of fact, the project is in its initial stages. This is just the beginning.
The basic infrastructure already in place is the reason I don’t miss the lounge mentioned above anymore. Ram, I am afraid you have lost one customer for good. Walking or jogging in the park feels much better than arguing about European teams on those revolving counter chairs.
It felt good to walk in the park. As I strolled around, I saw other people spending quality time there. There were couples hanging out while displaying affection publicly. I also saw a middle-aged woman deep in prayer. She was praying loudly in a mixture of Kinyarwanda and Gibberish.
Farther ahead, I saw a muscular young man working on his abs. His ears were covered by extra large headphones. An iPod was wrapped somewhere between his pronounced biceps and triceps. He seemed to have a great time exercising in the park. From the look of things, he isn’t missing his gym. Hopefully, that gym hasn’t lost him for good.
On my way back, I bypassed the praying woman one more time. This time, she was singing. The birds swaying on those bamboo trees were doing the same. The choir, featuring a prayerful woman and talented birds, made this garden heavenly.
As mentioned above, the park is still in the making. Its developers intend to reintroduce native tree species and restore terrestrial and aquatic habitats. The design is an innovative approach to the revival of urban biodiversity and the redefinition of recreation.