A Taste of Kigaliby Tuesday Phillips
Almost immediately upon arriving in Rwanda I understood why the French created the phrase, “Pays des Mille Collines” meaning “Country of a Thousand Hills” to describe the mountainous city of Kigali. Lush verdant knolls are the foundation which Kigali was built around, and provide the various sub-districts resting at the base of the hills with a picturesque backdrop, that interweaves the growing community with the antiquity of Rwanda’s countryside.
Since I had a whole day to explore Kigali before the start of the WED events, I knew I couldn’t leave the city without visiting the Genocide Memorial Center and Gardens. The site is built over the grave of 250,000 people who were killed in the mass massacre of 1994 and made up of documented occurrences, photos, videos and gardens. It was a beautiful tribute to the 800,000+ victims who had to endure such horrific acts.
Though leaving the memorial center was not an invigorating experience, it was inspiring to see the re-growth of the community and comradely of the people first hand, once I ventured out into town. It didn’t take long for me to see that the relationship Rwandans have developed amongst each other is similar to the relationship that they have with the environment. It’s a relationship that should be noted, if not mimicked. Not only are they years ahead of the rest of the world with their 2006 ban on plastic bags, but nearly all of the meals served at restaurants in the city are made with locally grown ingredients, often right from the owner’s back yard, reducing their dependency on foreign oil and their carbon emissions.
Rwanda is also a leader in Biodiversity, which is exactly why UNEP selected them as the global host for WED 2010. At the Kwitta Izina Gorilla Naming Ceremony on June 5 two events are being celebrated -- global recognition of World Environment Day, and the increased number of mountain gorillas that have recently been born in Rwanda. Fourteen baby gorillas will be named on Saturday at the foot of the Virunga Mountains in Kinigi, Northern Province and according to Kigali’s daily paper, The New Times, the combined events are said to draw multitudes of people, including conservationists, celebrities and officials from the UN.
Saturday is going to be an exciting day, no doubt. For one day, in one place, thousands of eco-conscious individuals who have chosen to make the transcendence of environmental issues a focal point in their lives will be gathered together, all working towards the same goal – the betterment of life and of the planet.
|UNEP WED Celebrations Worldwide
- North America