Last night, I visited a few parts of Kigali. While on this unscripted tour, I toasted a drink with party animals, poked my nose into other people’s affairs and savored a Swahili specialty. In addition, I witnessed the evolution of the city’s car-free zones and felt their social impact.
The self-guided tour was flagged off in Kimironko suburb. From there, I headed to the Gisimenti Car-Free Zone. As expected, numerous revelers had flocked the location of their weekend drinking sprees. The setup of bars and liquor stores, not to mention their makeshift outdoor extensions, created a booze trade fair atmosphere.
I recognized groups of born-in-Kigali drinking buddies, international students and tourists from the other side of the ocean. This city is a rainbow of diversity and a melting pot of languages.
From Gisimenti, I spun my wheels to the city center. On my way to the central business district, the villager in me was awestruck by the green median strips and the lit roundabouts.
Upon arrival, I parked in the basement of Makuza Peace Plaza and walked to another car-free street, namely Imbuga. Unlike Gisimenti, which boxes out cars from Fridays to Sundays, Imbuga is car-free every day of the week. The beautiful walkway is popular with young people yearning for Kodak moments and free Wi-Fi.
Before I left the area, I spent a few minutes at the neighboring City of Kigali Garden. At the garden, I saw lovebirds planning their dream weddings and social media addicts glued to the screens of their devices.
My last stop was Biryogo Car-Free Zone. Known for its Swahili cuisine and aromatic beverages, the busy street looked like a food festival site. The biriani I had for dinner reminded me of my last trip to the spice island of Unguja.
From the night owls of Gisimenti to the photogenic Imbuga models and the Biryogo tea enthusiasts, rubbing shoulders with residents of Kigali and their esteemed visitors was quite intriguing.