David, accompanied by his mother and fiancée, began his trip by visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial where he paid respects to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He learned about the causes of the Genocide and how Rwandans have built a new nation on a foundation of dignity and togetherness. David and his family honoured the victims by laying a wreath and observing a moment of silence.
He also met President Paul Kagame, before heading to Singita Kwitonda Lodge in Northern Province where he planted an indigenous tree as part of efforts to reforest areas surrounding the stunning Volcanoes National Park – home to the endangered mountain gorillas.
David and his family also enjoyed ‘Rwanda Night’ at the Lodge, which included traditional Rwandan dancing and drumming, as well as sampling the local cuisine.
Kicking off day two, David and his family trekked through the volcanoes to see Rwanda’s mountain gorillas. During the incredible wildlife experience, they learnt about the country’s successful efforts to conserve and protect the gorillas and their habitat. David then traveled back to Kigali to attend a national league football match at Kigali Regional Stadium where he met players, young Rwandans from the Irebero Goalkeeper Training Centre and enthusiastic fans.
David concluded his trip by meeting hundreds of Arsenal fans at the Kigali Convention Centre where he answered questions on his experience in Rwanda and his life and football career.
Helping to build awareness of Rwanda as a welcoming and culturally rich tourist hotspot, David was the first Arsenal first-team player to visit Rwanda since the partnership’s launch last season. He follows in the footsteps of Arsenal legends Alex Scott, Tony Adams and Lauren who have previously participated in the country’s Kwita Izina Gorilla naming ceremony – a prestigious celebration of Rwandan conservation and culture.
David’s trip was part of Visit Rwanda’s ground-breaking partnership with Arsenal Football Club, which also includes a focus on football development through a unique partnership between Arsenal, the Rwandan Football Federation and the national Ministry of Sports and Culture to develop and nurture local football talent at the grassroots level for girls and boys.
Following the visit David Luiz, said it has been incredible to learn about the wonderful country and experience the welcoming spirit of the Rwandan people.
“I came with the curiosity to learn about the country, considering what it went through 25 years ago. I have to say I was inspired by how fast it has moved forward and how it has become a progressive, fast-growing nation with so many amazing things to see and do,” he said.
“My family and I are so thankful for the opportunity to come here and see the passion of football fans, experience Rwanda’s culture and witness breath-taking scenery. From trekking to see mountain gorillas to watching local football and mixing with fans of all ages, it has been a humbling and wonderful experience. We can’t wait to come back and see even more of this beautiful country. I’m going to recommend all my friends to spend their holidays in Rwanda,” added David Luiz.
Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, revealed it was fantastic hosting David and his family in Rwanda and where he enjoyed every moment of his stay.
“David created a real bond with the local community. Rwanda is a must-see travel destination and we are happy David and his family experienced the best the country has to offer, from world-class hospitality options to once in a lifetime experiences like trekking the endangered mountain gorilla. We look forward to seeing David in Rwanda again, and welcoming more Arsenal players, fans and tourists from around the world to our beautiful country,” she noted.
Detailed Visit Summary
Kigali Genocide Memorial
David’s time in Rwanda begun with a visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial where he paid respects to the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
He learned about the causes, reality, and consequences of the Genocide as well as how Rwandans have built a new nation on a foundation of dignity and togetherness. He and his family also laid a wreath at the memorial burial place where 250,000 of the more than one million victims of the Genocide have been laid to rest.
After visiting, David wrote a touching message in the memorial guestbook:
“Hello friends, I just want to remind you that we are all born one for the other, we all need each other. It doesn’t matter where; we need to live with love, peace, and happiness. God bless you all. From your brother, David.”
Audience with Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
After visiting the memorial, David visited the offices of the Rwanda Development Board where he interacted with staff and met with the Chief Executive Officer, Clare Akamanzi.
Shortly after, President Kagame received David at his office, Urugwiro Village.
In his meeting with the President, David was accompanied by his fiancé Ms. Bruna Da Conceicao Loureiro, mother Regina Celia Moreira Marinho, and Peter Silverstone, Arsenal Football Club Commercial Director. They were also joined by the CEO of the Rwanda Development Board, Clare Akamanzi. View photos here.
Singita Kwitonda Lodge, Musanze District
David then traveled to Singita Kwitonda Lodge in Musanze District (Rwanda’s Northern Province) where he planted an indigenous tree as part of efforts to reforest areas surrounding Volcanoes National Park and the lodge. He also took the time to train at the foothills of the volcanoes.
While at Singita, David also met with the Governor of the Northern Province, JMV Gatabazi, the Chief Park Warden of Volcanoes National Park, Prosper Uwingeli, and Eugene Mutangana from the Rwanda Development Board Tourism and Conservation Department. They discussed Rwanda’s successful gorilla conservation efforts and plans to expand their habitat.
David and his family also enjoyed ‘Rwanda Night’ at Singita Kwitonda Lodge, which included traditional Rwandan dancing and drumming, as well as sampling the local cuisine.
Trekking Kwitonda Gorilla Family in Volcanoes National Park
In Volcanoes National Park, David and his family trekked to visit the Kwitonda family of mountain gorillas in their natural habitat and were amazed by this unique and incredible wildlife encounter.
Attending APR v. Etincelles Match at Kigali Regional Stadium
After the trek, David traveled to Kigali to attend a national league match between APR v. Etincelles at the Kigali Regional Stadium where he met with players from both teams as well as
the referees. During half time, he joined a football juggling competition with young Rwandans from the Irebero Goalkeeper Training Centre. David presented the winner of the competition, Prince Alonso Ishimwe, with a signed #23 Arsenal home kit jersey.
Meeting Supporters and Press Conference
After the match, David met with Arsenal fans in Rwanda at the Kigali Convention Center. He interacted with the fans by taking selfies and answering questions about his career
The visit comes after a highly successful first year of Visit Rwanda’s partnership with Arsenal as the club’s inaugural Sleeve Sponsor and Official Tourism Partner.
In just twelve months, the partnership has made Rwanda a must-see holiday destination for football fans and tourists around the world.
An independent survey conducted by Hall and Partners of 20,000 Arsenal fans across 30 markets found that as a result of the partnership, 51% of respondents are more likely to consider Rwanda as a tourist destination, demonstrating a shift in perception and understanding of the country.
In 2018, 1.7 million people visited Rwanda – an 8% increase from 2017.
This success has led the partnership to be nominated for a Leaders Sports Award in the sponsorship category, which recognizes the best work and most talented individuals in sports business.
Visit Rwanda and the partnership with Arsenal also won the top award for destination excellence in luxury and experiential travel at the 2019 Luxperience Awards and an Honorary Award for Partnership for ‘a unique and transformational partnership by an African brand’ at the 2019 Best of Africa Awards.