Once upon a time, the Rwandan side of Lake Kivu had fifty-seven islands. Today, there are fifty-six. What happened to the fifty-seventh one?
Before Murwa Island was taken away from Lake Kivu, it was separated from the mainland by the shallow waters of an area known as Mujabagiro. Since the separation wasn’t deep, one could walk from one side to another while being partially submerged beneath the surface of the lake.
"We used to walk to and from the other side through Mujabagiro while navigating the depth ranging from knee to waist levels, depending on one’s height." Says Hakizimana Lawrence, a resident of Murwa. "I was a strong young man. I remember carrying about thirty people a day on my shoulders — helping them to traverse the Mujabagiro barrier without getting wet." He added.
Murwa was bridged to the rest of Kagano administrative area when an unusual dry path was built. The road, which separated the water like the rod of Moses, is the reason we can drive straight to Murwa today. Connecting the island to the shore was a nature-defying project. Implemented in 1973, the said project changed the status of this unique geographical feature found in Kagano Sector, Nyamasheke District.
On my way to Murwa, I looked at the narrow Mujabagiro entry-point and imagined how things used to be when the village was completely surrounded by water. Part of me wished Murwa was still an island. However, I also recognized the need to remove the old logistical hurdle.
This beautiful chunk of land still looks like its old self. During my stay, I enjoyed the island atmosphere without having to board a boat.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Nyamasheke was sponsored by Nyamasheke District, The Click Creations, Tec-Global Ltd, Elimo Real Estate Ltd and Exposure. Follow his awe-inspiring expedition on Twitter @GeoExposure.