Rusizi, an heritage to preserve.
Spending a few days in Kamembe, also know as Cyangugu. Capital of the Rusizi district, in between Nyungwe Forest and DRC.
Landed in a very Agatha-Christiesque hotel, over looking Lake Kivu ; Émeraude Kivu Resort. By far, the best hotel of Cyangugu. You should defenitly stay there !
Next to the hotel lies the former Administrative center of Karambo, build during the Belgium era. It has been used untill 2006 as the offices of the Cyangugu Prefecture. After the Local Government reform the prefecture was integrated within the Rusizi District.
The center is a comprehensive building set made of a plaza leading to the actual post office. at the left, the Catholic Center, with a very interesting buildings, with courtyard and public gazebos by the lake.
If you go towards Émeraude Hotel, you will find the 2 houses that were used by the Belgium governor of Shangugu and the Territorial Management Office. They are characteristic of the Belgium early-colonial style that could be also found in Kigali, where now a shopping mall is under construction.
The two houses features angular bow-windows overlooking the lake, thick wall, rounded porch and long solar shadings over the windows. On the other road, a very peculiar school with triangular-shaped windows is almost abandoned.
The beauty of this heritage is not its grandeur. We are far from the former grandeur of the Avenue Royale of Bukavu ( Now Avenue du Président Mubutu ). Karambo has its own charm, a subtle one, made of small details. In a way a very Rwandan charm.
The old and magnificent trees cast a peculiar light onto a belvedere overlooking the Cyangugu shipyard. The beautiful gentle stairs that lead to the actual post office. All those small details indicates an attention to the context, to small details. This care of subtle details can still be found in some informal areas in Kigali and in Rwanda. Unfortunately we can't say the same for most of the new planned architecture projects across the country.
"We must protect those buildings in Karambo, it's not because we protect them that we support the colonial ideology. Those buildings are part of our heritage. They are ours ! Our parents used it, went to school in them, got married in them. They are an assets for the development of the region" told us one of the inhabitants of Cyangugu
Rwanda does have an heritage to preserve, the result of its ancient history. From the trees marking the former royal compounds to the more recent ones like the Karambo Centre.
It echoes Guillaume article in the Rwandapost about Building preservation in the country - you can read it here.
There's a urgent need of a national policy listing buildings and trees to protect. It's not because these heritage There's a need to find solution to bring this heritage back to life, before it's too late.