Saturday, November 6, 2010

Just a little bit about Rwanda

Our placements will be in Rawamagana in the Eastern Province of Rwanda which is a republic in the Central and Eastern part of Africa. It borders Uganda to the North, Tanzania to the East, Burundi to the South and the Democratic Republic of Congo to the West. It is a land-locked country with many lakes and is known as the the Land of a Thousand Hills (Mille Collines). It has a temperate climate because of its altitude with gently rolling hills, plains and swamps in the east. It is about the size of Wales and has a population just short of ten million.

Rwanda's population density, even after the 1994 genocide, is among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa (230 per sq. km.--590 per sq. mi.). Nearly every family in this country with few villages lives in a self-contained compound on a hillside. The urban concentrations are grouped around administrative centres. The indigenous population consists of three ethnic groups. The Hutus, who comprise the majority of the population (85%), are farmers of Bantu origin. The Tutsis (14%) are a pastoral people who arrived in the area in the 15th century. Until 1959, they formed the dominant caste under a feudal system based on cattleholding. The Twa (1%) are thought to be the remnants of the earliest settlers of the region.

Rwamagana lies approximately 50 km (31 miles) from Kigali, the capital on the newly renovated road leading east towards Tanzania and has a population of around 50,000. There was formerly a large amount of traffic running through the centre, particularly freight to and from Tanzania but with the recent creation of a bypass, the centre of the city is now quieter. The city lies mainly along two roads, the main east-west route, and a spur leading off to the south.

It is perhaps famous for both its volcanoes and, of course, its gorillas. The capital city is Kigali, about 90 minutes by road from where we will be staying. The official languages are French and Kinyarwanda and English has recently been introduced into the schools as the language of instruction. The territory was assigned to Germany in 1884 and after the First World War war allocated to Belgium as a League of Nations mandate; hence the French. Although it has never been a British Colony, earlier this year the country joined the Commonwealth. Mary and I were at the Commonwealth Day Celebrations at Marlborough House in March and very briefly shook hands with the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Click Here and Here to see photographs of the occasion and the President.

This is just a brief overview but you can find out more from the following sites. Just click on the links.

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Hi, hope your enjoy reading about our adventures in Rwanda. We'd love to hear from you. Stephen and Mary