Remember the day I visited the former residence of King Kigeli IV Rwabugiri in Bumbogo? From there, I proceeded to Lake Muhazi via Gikomero and Rutunga.
At the commercial street of Gikomero, I saw a familiar architectural design. This design is common across East Africa. Muhawenimana Innocent, a resident of Gikomero, believes the design of the shops I saw was influenced by Asian immigrants. In the 1930s, a score of Arab traders entered Rwanda via the coast of East Africa. Most of them settled in Kigali, former Astrida and Rwamagana. According to Muhawenimana, the design of their shops set a new trend across the region and some of their retail practices are still common today.
At Rutunga, I was given a detailed account of the highly decorated feast of umuganura that took place during the reign of the said king. Umuganura is an annual thanksgiving holiday observed to celebrate the harvest and other blessings. The feast is also credited for enhancing unity and patriotism, among other things.
My destination was Kingfisher Beach Hotel on the Gasabo side of the shore. Upon arrival, I saw a boat ferrying visitors from the other side of the lake. I was taken aback by the big number of cars parked there. Most visitors usually drive to that parking lot and cross the lake by boat.
At the entrance, a thermometer was pointed at my head like a gun. Then I sanitized my hands thoroughly. I was also instructed to fill in the visitors’ register. Required details include full names, national identification card number, district of origin and telephone number. This info helps contact tracers to map out their course of action when possible exposures are detected.
All the cabanas in the premises were occupied by families and friends. Some patrons were sharing meals and drinks in the garden. Their tables were placed meters apart. The outdoor setting reduces the risk of contracting Covid and enables the esteemed customers to enjoy their meals while soaking up the view of the lake and its surrounding hills.
The swimming pool and the beach volleyball court were closed until further notice. On the terrace, groups of youngsters were drinking and dancing. Music blasted from their portable bluetooth speakers was explicit content to my old, conservative ears. Excitement was in the air. The atmosphere reminded me of life before the pandemic. This tour took place on January 2, this year. The revellers I found at Kingfisher were still celebrating the end of a terrible year.
On the shuffled waves of the lake, someone was riding a vessel popularly known as a Jet Ski. Jet Ski is a brand name of a Personal Water Craft (PWC) manufactured by Kawasaki. The name is used generally to refer to any type of PWC. Jet Ski’s brand can be compared to Colgate and Kiwi. We tend to refer to any type of toothpaste as Colgate and any shoe polish product as Kiwi. While any type of PWC is imprecisely called a Jet Ski, the riding experience is commonly referred to as Jet Skiing.
As a thrill seeker, I would have loved to indulge in Jet Skiing but the number of people who had escaped to Kingfisher in the wake of an unusual new year’s eve gave me cold feet. I commend the hotel’s management for taking precautionary measures but I still felt the need to avoid such a gathering.
I bought a bottle of water and walked out of the resort. Then I hiked a neighboring hill all the way to its highest point. From there, I saw the boat mentioned above bringing more customers. When this was happening, the Jet Skier was gliding full throttle, leaving behind a trail of whirlpools.
The author is currently visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Gasabo is sponsored by the Click Creations, Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel and Elimo Real Estate Ltd.