The New Times (Kigali)

3 June 2012

Rwanda: Kigali's Skeletal Structures

opinion

Kigali is scattered with abandoned buildings. Many of us pass by them unaware because they've sunken into the environment and become part of the scenery. However, these buildings also say a lot about the history of the city and it's future development.

A large portion of Kigali's abandoned homes are leftover from the 1994 Genocide, a stark reminder of how things were and how much the city has changed. Countless are still pockmarked with bullet holes.

As development speeds up in the city, the future of these skeletal structures is rapidly changing. Many of the abandoned buildings are starting to be redeveloped or are slated to be torn down in the near future.

Some have also become temporary shelter, where old sheets, cardboard beds and plastic wash basins have made these once lavish homes a second home for someone else.

With looming reconstruction to many of these structures, the temporary residents told The Sunday Times they will have to move soon, but for now they will keep using the dilapidated buildings as shelter.

Animals have also taken up residence. Chickens, birds, lizards and other animals use them as makeshift pens, a place to nest, or for sunbathing on a hot day.

Nature has done its job in reclaiming these structures, as well, as overgrowth weakens walls and water erodes away at the building's supports and foundation. Trees grow in former hallways and vines creep over stairwells and block out doorways. It won't be long until many of them are totally consumed.

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