Call me limited

Call me limited

I am staying at the Scripture Union Guest House in the up-market diplomatic district of Kigali. It is Sunday, and as ever, all is peaceful. Little has changed since we first came to know this place.

But take a walk out into the bustling streets of the city and there is much that has moved on, even in the past few months since our previous visit. The most striking emerging feature of Kigali is the westernisation of the infrastructure. The Kigali Bus Service, once with a handful of rusty coaches operating out of a yard near the prison now has a fleet of spanking new Chinese buses complete with ticket machines and hand grips to swing from in the rush-hour.

The middle-man has moved in. Not long ago, street workers were a common sight, hired by the day in their bedraggled clothes to paint kerb-stones or trim hedges. Now, the same workers have been given boots and smart green boiler-suits with their company name proudly emblazoned across the back - 'Call Me Limited'. Limited possibly, but somebody seems to be giving them a good bit of business.

Many more roads are hard covered now and even have road names. 'KG400 St' may do the job as far as identification goes but doesn't quite have the same ring as 'The Glebe' or 'Eildon Brae'. The road signs, apart from being written in Kinyarwanda, could be anywhere in Europe.

There is much that has changed in Kigali but this is where the progress seems to end. One does not have to move far from the Kigali centre to find bare-foot children wearing the same clothes they wore last year. One little girl I saw yesterday was wearing a pyjama suit with stirrups under her feet which will snap before long.

Plus ca change.