Tourism 5: Learning Kinyarwanda

In Rwamda

It’s been more than two years or so I last heard a rooster crow! Lagos where I live is such a city bubbling with life that even if any in the metropolis dared to crow, its sound will be swallowed up by the honks from the cars of Lagosians who are up earlier than the roosters!

It was a few minutes past three o’clock that morning. I was awakened by this cockerel. I would have wanted more sleep but I knew could not after I picked up my phone to respond to a few messages I had received the previous day and to also go through a list of Kinyarwanda words and vocabulary that Pacifique, my Airbnb host had shared with me the previous day. He actually gave me an exhaustive list and I think you may find them useful. Here are a few of them.

  1. Good morning: mwaramutse
  2. Good afternoon: mwiriwe
  3. Hi, Hello: muraho
  4. What’s up: bite
  5. Thank you: murakoze
  6. 1: rimwe
  7. 2: kabiri
  8. 3: gatatu
  9. 4: Kane
  10. F5: gatantu
  11. 6: gatandatu
  12. 7: karindwi
  13. 8: umunani
  14. 9: icyenda
  15. 10: icumi
  16. (Same as English, 1-10 are the basic numbers to count even thousands , weekdays and month days )
  17. Example(urugero = sixteen: cumi na gatandatu)
  18. Na: and
  19. From 11 -19 you say cumi Na. .. which is ten and  ( 1-9)
  20. 20: makumyabili
  21. 30: mirongo itatu
  22. 40: mirongo ine
  23. 50: mirongo itantu
  24. 60: mirongo itandatu
  25. 70: mirongo irindwi
  26. 80: mirongo inani
  27. 90: mirongo icyenda
  28. 100: Ijana
  29. 200: maganabiri
  30. 300: maganatatu
  31. 400: maganane
  32. 500: maganatantu
  33. 600: maganatandatu
  34. 700: maganarindwi
  35. 800: maganinani
  36. 900: maganacyenda
  37. 1000: igihumbi
  38. 2000: ibihumbi bibiri
  39. 3000: ibihumbi bitatu …….. same formula
  40. Monday: kuwambere
  41. Tuesday: kuwakabiri
  42. Wednesday: kuwagatatu
  43. Thursday: kuwakane
  44. Friday: kuwagatantu
  45. Saturday: kuwagatandatu
  46. Sunday: kucyumweru
  47. Have a good day: mugire umunsi mwiza
  48. Good night: ijoro ryiza
  49. Thank you sooo much!!!!: Murakoze!!!!!

These are very basic but you could still learn a lot more online.


The weather was cool that morning. Looking out from the window from my apartment at the Gisozi- Gakinjiro suburb in Kigali revealed a beautiful city well lit with its undulating scenery. Day break started somewhat around four o’clock in the morning. Everything looked so beautiful and being a Sunday morning, it was a perfect time to explore Kigali religiously.

My host Pacifique had informed me that morning about his plans to go to Church that morning after I told him to recommend me a good one.

One other important thing one will notice in Kigali and speakers of Kinyarwanda is the R and L coflict. People pronounce R in place of L and vice versa. This may be a bit confusing to people but not for me. Back home in from where I come, people make that same mistake and it was quite interesting seeing people making the same mistake here. For instance, wanting to say “My brothers visited Kigali with rice and lobsters!” you will hear “My blothers visited Kigari with lice and robsters!”

We went to a church near Mumugi the Kinyarwanda for The City Center. The service was very nice and spiritual. The choir of the church played good music in the duration of the service, sang in 5 different languages – Zulu, Kinyarwanda, French, English and Swahili. People were modestly dressed compared to back home in Lagos where people dress to impress. The few hours I spent there at church was without regrets.

Service at the Church

Immediately after the service, Pacifique had decided to doubled as a tour guide to show me the town. We first headed to a canteen where we could get something to eat. There is one thing I noticed about the diet of the Rwandans. They do not take little or no meat but love lots of beans. Most buffet would have different types of beans prepared.

The next after taking care of the stomach was a visit to University Libre de Kigali or The Independent University of Kigali. This school is ranked second in the entire country and was one of the first universities in the country. I also learnt it was possible as a citizen of Rwanda, to obtain student loans to finance one’s education and then pay back to the government in the future.

We saw a few other places before heading home to rest. I intentionally avoided going to the Genocide Memorial because I had wanted to visit with Michael, my mentor who had initially informed me about the event in Rwanda and he who would arrive Kigali early Tuesday. I wanted us to go together but I could not make it there unfortunately as several things had to change my schedule eventually.

Let me also talk about my host’s hospitality. When I was reading his reviews on Airbnb, several people who used his facility commended his kindness and hospitality to guests and I would say I was not an exception to his generosity. After we got home on Sunday from our outing, he took his time to prepare dinner that evening. Spaghetti. I ate until I was full and he had some more left in case I needed more. I strongly recommend reading reviews of potential hosts when making an Airbnb accommodation reservation so as to know what to expect. A few of us do normally jump on a facility because of the price but asides from the price, the personality of the host is very important. Other factors such as location from the center and accessibility are also very important criteria to look out for before settling for one.

Meanwhile, on Monday, a number of the organizers and speaker for the event started trickling into town. We had a universal WhatsApp group for coordination. We were also advised to visit the venue for the event – KLab (May likely mean Kigali Lab) for familiarization, a free workspace and free internet. The KLab is a space open to IT entrepreneurs to collaborate and innovate in Rwanda. There was free internet here and it happens to be one of the good places to meet digital entrepreneurs who are going to change Kigali and Africa soon. I had the option of touring the city or visiting here but I chose to visit – so I could at least review my slides before the event the next day, I ended up visiting the town.

KLab was nice. In fact, I met a Nigerian tech entrepreneur there. Immediately a few of the staff learnt I was from Nigeria, they introduced me to Ndubuisi, or Henry Umunnakwe as he calls himself on LinkedIn. The gentleman became my tour guide for that day and the next. Very gentle, warm and friendly. Got me to where I took lunch, showed me the location of the headquarters of the Rwanda Cooperate Affairs Commission and how easy it is to start business in Kigali. The gentleman was well traveled and seemed to know everyone in town.

Moving around the city, it was very obvious it was a very clean and modern city. The people were very neat and well dressed. Even in the suburbs. One thing that you would also observe was the detailed cleanliness of the city and the drainage. Everywhere was neat. I tried so hard for find a garbage disposed improperly unkempt rubbish but in all my stay in this town, I could not find one. I was later informed that most companies and business were meant to pay a token of about 10 euros every month to help keep the city remain clean. In fact, Kigali took the second place in my cleanliness ratings in Africa, just after Cape Town in South Africa.

One more thing to note in Kigali and Rwanda was the ease of setting up a business and registering a company. I learnt that companies can be registered in less than a day and costs nothing for initial registration. Opening of branch offices could costs between 5000 to 7000 francs which is less than $10 USD. With this ease of setting up business and the KLab initiative, it’s obvious the administration of President Paul Kigame is committed to creating businesses and growing the local economy. A renown Nigerian Banker Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede who is the chairman of Access Bank once told a story of how he complained to Paul Kigame of the difficulties and delays he had at the airport obtaining a visa on arrival in Rwanda. After airing this complaint and now on his way home back to Lagos, he was delayed a bit at the airport and was given visa for life to Rwanda, meaning he would not need a visa again to visit that country. President Paul Kigame is really keen in developing the local economy and lots of these initiative bear him witness.

One more thing happened that day. I asked one of the officers at the KLab to suggest a local Kinyarwanda name for me. I asked her for three suggestions from which we would agree on one. She suggested Mushiga, Mazi and Mugabo. She found this exercise very funny but it somehow made her and a few other friends there feel at home with me. We finally settled for Mushiga!

Kinyarwanda names

I finally quit the KLab around four o’clock that evening. I could not even work on my presentation as I planned to do when I was leaving home in the morning. As I always do, I called the motor bike I had used in the morning to come take me back to my Gisozi-Gakinjiro Airbnb apartment. One more thing I noticed by interacting with people was that the Nigerian Movie industry otherwise known as Nollywood was a very big influence on so many Rwandans. Many of them are fond of Nigerian actors and movies. The bad side of this story is that many of them believe that most of the wrong things done in the movies are actually real – this has made some of them to be afraid of associating with Nigerians. I spent lots of time explaining to a few of them that what they see in movie is not real.
The clean streets of Kigali

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About Ifeatu Osegbo 107 Articles
#Historian #Adventist #Linguist #Traveler #Farmer #ITPro #Adventurer #Journalist

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