Over time, everyone with a past has the chance to shake off prior expectations and emerge with a surprising new persona. Rwanda manages to do just this with a range of positive changes that benefit all arms of society.
Despite being one of the world’s smallest nations, Rwanda continues to make an impact on travellers from across the world: here’s how.
National language has become English
The language Rwandans use to communicate with each other is called Kinyarwanda; however, as part of a bid to boost its ties with neighbouring English-speaking countries, Rwanda changed its national language to English from French in 2008. By becoming an English-speaking nation, Rwanda also strengthened its trade and business relationships with other countries that use English as their main native tongue.
Some older Rwandans still speak French, however, and it is worth knowing some key phrases. When visiting, make sure that you ask your travel representative, which is likely to be the most common language in the area.
Plastic bag ban
You will be warned before crossing a Rwandan border that any plastic bags will be confiscated; in fact, Rwanda was the first country to introduce a ban on plastic bags and the result is quite striking. The landscape is remarkably clean and litter-free, avoiding the plastic bag-ridden countryside often associated with developing countries.
Community volunteer days
Once a month, all Rwandans complete a day of voluntary service to work on a range of public projects, such as home builds and school renovations. The day is referred to as ‘umaganda’, which means ‘contribution’ in Kinyarwanda. In addition to bettering the lives of a broad range of society, this remarkable occasion sets Rwanda apart as a driving force in bringing communities together.
Haven for mountain gorillas
Rwanda is home to many mountain gorillas, making it a favoured destination for gorilla trekking to see these beautiful animals in their natural habitat. Rwanda takes great pride in its conservation of these creatures and has a dedicated day when it invites nationals and international guests to take part in a naming ceremony for baby gorillas born in the previous year.
Rwanda is definitely a developing country of which the rest of the world should be taking note, from its eco-friendly attitude to its volunteer work.