This trip took place last year after a long period of movement restrictions, following the confirmation of the first case of Covid- 19 in Rwanda. It was a quick Lake Muhazi getaway that led to rare bright memories in a very dark year.
On my way to Rwesero, I saw gorilla statues mounted on a neatly painted pillar. Since I had missed my cousins from the animal kingdom, I stopped and took selfies with them. The stand on which the gorilla statues are erected is written "Iyo zibonye amahoro, zikamwa amadevise." This can loosely be translated as "When they have peace, currency is milked from them."
Conservation efforts demonstrated over the past two decades have granted peace to these great apes. As a result, they are now coughing up cash into the national coffers and upgrading the livelihoods of the people.
When I was taking pictures, a group of boys from the local community gathered around me. I told them to stay far away from me unless they wanted to contract Covid. They backed off immediately. From the distance, I asked one of them to explain to me how dollars can be milked from the gorillas. His answer was long and incoherent but he had an idea of how it works.
There is a river on the other side of the road. Its banks are embellished with stripes of bamboo trees planted in a bid to fight soil erosion. I asked the boy who answered my first question to tell me why the river was sandwiched by bamboo trees. This time his response was on point, in my understanding. However, his friends thought his explanation didn’t hold water.
Why is the river sandwiched by bamboo trees? This question didn’t make sense to the rest of the boys. It was a stupid question anyway. According to them, those trees were just there. They just happened to be there — simple. I was bringing complications to their simple lives. There is nothing abnormal about trees growing on the river bank.
I wanted to know the name of the river we were talking about. One of the boys told me the river in question is Kagera. "Are you sure this is Kagera River?" I pressed. His answer was a resounding yes. Well, that wasn’t the Kagera I know but who am I to argue with someone who swims there every day?
I was somewhere in Rulindo District. All along, I didn’t know Rulindo owns a piece of the Kigali - Gatuna highway. My destination was the Gasabo part of Lake Muhazi. How could I travel from one sector of Gasabo to another through the Northern Province? I hadn’t discovered my preferred shortcut yet — the off-road route through Bumbogo, Gikomero and Rutunga. As rough as it may be, Indakangwa, the made-in-Rwanda adventure bike I use is built for such a terrain.
I am not regretting using the highway though. The ride gave me a glimpse of what Rulindo has in store. It was also an opportunity to patrol this district’s southeastern border and get myself more acquainted with its geographical location.
The author is visiting all 30 districts of Rwanda. His tour of Rulindo is sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, The Peakspot Lodge, My Hill Ecolodge, Rusiga Highland Resort and Beyond the Gorillas Experience (BGE)