It’s a beautiful sunny morning here in Gahunga Sector, Burera District. Buses are picking and dropping passengers, trucks are traversing the tarmac and kids are walking to school. It’s business as usual.
Mount Muhabura is more visible than usual. Even on a misty day, it’s hard to miss this imposing elevation. I remember the day I rode to Lake Ruhondo through an unfamiliar route. It was foggy and visibility was poor but I could still see Muhabura’s summit soaring to the clouds more than 4,000 meters above sea level. As usual, Muhabura guided me to my destination.
Historically, Muhabura was our forefathers’ guiding feature. The towering volcano used to guide their steps back home after waging expansion wars or embarking on trade treks. As a matter of fact, the word muhabura means guide.
As I admire the view of Muhabura, I can’t stop thinking about Mount Nyiragongo’s eruption a few days ago. Nyiragongo is located in the neighboring North Kivu Province of DR Congo. Viral footages of lava flowing like Nyabarongo River are terrifying. Thank God, the flow has stopped but another eruption can’t be ruled out.
Volcanic tremors, linked to violent magma, are still shaking the entire region and damaging properties in settlements around the northern tip of Lake Kivu. Seems like we are not off the hook yet.
There are eight volcanic mountains in the Virunga Massif. Five of them straddle Rwanda’s border. Luckily, the mountains we share with neighbors are dormant, including the one standing a stone throw away from me.
Muhabura and Gahinga mountains are found along the Rwanda - Uganda boundary line while Bisoke and Karisimbi are shared by Rwanda and the DRC. Sabyinyo is located at the adjoining point of Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo. Each one of the three neighboring countries claims a piece of Mount Sabyinyo. Its location is where the three countries meet, literary. Mikeno, Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo, on the other hand, are entirely found in the DRC but very close to Rwanda.
As mentioned above, the five mountains co-shared by Rwanda are dormant. Some reports claim they are extinct, which is a more assuring designation. However, Nyamuragira and Nyiragongo are still active. Memories of the latter’s devastating eruption in 2002 are still fresh on our minds. Let’s hope the ongoing seismic activity won’t wreak any more havoc.
The author is currently visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Burera is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, The Peakspot Lodge, My Hill Ecolodge and Beyond the Gorillas Experiences (BGE).