Kigali in the early days of June was a city bathed in the blood of past and current massacres.
Since the killing had begun on 6 April Rwanda's capital had been the setting for butchery on a massive scale. Hundreds of thousands of Tutsis and many Hutus who opposed the government had either been murdered in their homes or stopped at road-blocks and hacked to death. Kigali had been the epicentre of the genocide.
Although the suburbs we drove through were largely empty of people, with the rubble of war still strewn across the roads, it was possible in the golden evening light to think of Kigali as having once been a pleasant city. From where we stood on the heights held by the RPF, Kigali seemed to be surrounded by mountains and hills. There were many flowers, bougainvillaea and hibiscus and countless others whose names were unknown to me, blossoming in the hedges.
The red-tiled roofs of some of the bungalows gave the city a Mediterranean aspect. There was no sign of the vast slum dwellings of Kinshasa or the concrete blockhouses of Nairobi or the skyscrapers of Johannesburg. The avenues off the main road were dirt tracks but there were rows of trees that gave them a secluded, peaceful ambience. This delusion lasted only as long as you stayed in the Land Rover and did not wander through the empty houses. Because out there in the sunshine, mingling with the scent of the new flowers, was the old scent of death.
From Season of Blood. A Rwandan Journey by Fergal Keane