Prior to my arrival in Kigali, I decided to explore the urban city through photography under the direction of Yakubu, a professional photographer. I booked a 3hr street photography session with Yakubu via Vayando for $25. Vayando is a website where you can book different interactive experiences that connects Curious Travelers with Micro-Entrepreneurs in Emerging Economies around the World.
About Kigali & Rwanda
Kigali is the capital and largest city in Rwanda and home to over a million people, covering an area of 730 km². Rwanda is a country located in central and east Africa and one of the smallest countries on the African mainland. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There are three official languages spoken in Rwanda, which includes the indigenous language Kinyarwanda, French and English.
In 2009, English became part of the curriculum and a move to make English the dominant language over French. The objective of this was to foster stronger relationships with neighbouring English speaking countries that Rwanda traded with. Most of the younger generation speak English. If you can speak a little bit of French that will help you as well during your visit. The Rwandan currency is Rwanda Franc(RWF), but in tourist and upmarket establishments US dollars are accepted.
Yakubu was born and raised in the land of a thousand hills. His work focuses on environmental and living conditions over time, especially of socially isolated groups.
He realized that although photography is a growing business not many Rwandan photographers are interested in capturing their country. He currently works with several local and international magazines, websites and different NGOs in Rwanda. Yakubu wants to represent Rwanda in different art festivals and exhibitions. He also wants to own a gallery and organize an international festival of photography.
He received a BFA from Lesley Institute of Art and Design in Boston and now works as a freelance photographer in Kigali.
My Street Photography Session
My photography day started at 9am on a Sunday at the Kigali City Tower in the commercial area of Kigali. There wasn’t much hustle and bustle to photograph in this area, so we decided to walk around and boy did we walk! When they say Rwanda is a place of a thousand hills, its no joke. I felt I climbed every single one of them during our exploration, but it was good fun:)
I was the only person in the group, so it was a good one to one session with no technical jargon. Yakubu provided some good tips on how to take portrait photographs, which requires you to get really close to the subject. I enjoyed taking pictures of the kids who looked blissful in their innocence.
We ended up in Nyamirambo, where there was a lot going on. Nyamirambo is the oldest, biggest and most vibrant township in Rwanda. Arrive any time of the day and this area is buzzing with activities. We ended up spending more than 3hrs together and stopped for a quick snack to refuel to provide energy for the rest of the day.
When you see pictures of Kigali, it is normally the glitzy side of things. Here are some great shots taken along the way. The shots are predominately centred around people on the street and chance encounters. This might provide you with an insight into the interesting everyday life in Kigali. Enjoy.
Through my camera Len, I see hope, I see progress, I see peace in these young faces.
Prior to my arrive I was told Rwandan women are beautiful, well here’s proof:)
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After my photography tour, I can see why Kigali was voted the most beautiful city in Africa by the UN. I am a big fan of a blend of old and new architecture which can be found in Kigali. The streets were clean, Rwanda’s no tolerance policy on plastic bags, definitely helps. You can see the progress the country is making in terms of new buildings rising and the good roads.
I felt safe walking down the streets with a camera in hand with no trouble. People were friendly and most were happy for their photos to be taken. I loved my experience in Kigali, the Rwandans are chilled and never in a rush, which I found a little bit difficult coming from the fast pace life in London. This is a city definitely worth visiting, if you are looking for creativity and an urban relaxed environment.
If you are interested in reading more about my experience in Kigali, Click here to read about my exploration of the Art scene and suggestions on where to pick up cool art and souvenirs.
Look out for my post on my luxurious stay at Des Millies Collins by Kempinski, which was the hotel that became a Refugee Centre during the genocide, as famously depicted in the film Hotel Rwanda.
A big thank you to Yakubu for showing me the ropes and taking me round Kigali for this Photography session. Bye for now.x