Hello again! Last week has been rather exhausting with a work trip to Kigali. I went to represent our sports programme, TSC (Tanzanian Street Children) Sports Academy project at a streetworldfootball conference in Kigali – the capital city of Rwanda. The meeting was bringing together all organisations that work using football as a tool to bring communities together and reach out to vulnerable individuals. TSC Academy is not yet a member of this network but it was great to go along, meet some useful contacts and look at becoming of member.
My trip to the conference ended up taking 2 days on the bus (the flight to Kigali was over $400!) however I’m pleased to say that I managed to make it back to Mwanza in 1 day (albeit leaving at 04:20am)! Despite a few worried, uncomfortable, and sweaty moments I have to say that travelling on the bus here is without doubt a great way to see the country. Below is the route I took on the way there and back, racking up over 1400km, but all for less than £25 return. You may notice the way there (the route which goes further North & includes a horseshoe bit) is rather long and out of the way but it seems the wrong ticket was bought for me to get there…
The bus did however offer some good moments such as….
I also appreciated the value of friendliness and hospitality offered by everyone I met. Firstly, I was guided on the bus as to where I had ended up (somewhere in the hills west of Bukoba) and how I would be able to get to the Rwandan border the next day. Secondly, when I arrived in this small village I was welcomed by a guy who showed me somewhere to stay, around the town, got me something to eat and watched the biggest game in the Tanzanian premier league season with me. Then on my return, one of the buses broke down before even leaving the bus station (thankfully another one was going to my next location) and a local guy managed to get my ticket money back for me. Then at my final station, a guy took me to a place I could wait safely (bus stations after dark are a bit dodgy) and got me in touch with someone who could show me the right bus when it came (instead of being sold a ticket for a bus that wouldn’t come that night).
The conference itself was a really great experience. It offered some inspiring stories of how people are using football to combat violence, such as one lady who brought together young men from local tribes who had been taught by their leaders to fight and kill each other to sort out differences. This lady devised a competition where boys from each tribe played on the same team to unite them and used the tagline “Shoot to score, not to kill”. It was also finished off by traditional Rwandan drumming and dancing.
Kigali itself, in the short time that I was there seemed a really nice city, it is likely the hilliest capital city I will ever visit. It has some very modern touches like a big shopping centre with a real supermarket (where I bought some goats cheese – that hopefully has survived the 24 hours it was in my bag) and seemed safe – I had a full body scan on my way into the shopping centre, my bag had to go through an airport style scanner and I was happy walking around the city on my own at night. As a bonus I even managed to leave my camera on the bus for about 10 minutes before returning to thankfully be reunited with it!
And finally, the walk you take across the Tanzanian – Rwandan border has to be one of the prettiest thanks to the Rusumo waterfall which forms the border. And as a bonus after enjoying the waterfall, there is no visa requirement for British nationals so I could enter free! I would love to go back with Naomi some time, to explore Kigali more, find out about the genocide and visit the volcanoes national park.