Harmony in the dark: Rwandan soldier’s nighttime watch over Bangui

On 25 November 2023 at 02:00

In the nocturnal embrace of Bangui, Central African Republic, a vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of cities like Kigali unfolds. After enduring years of unrest that shook the nation, residents now fully immerse themselves in the night, celebrating, socializing, and conducting their affairs without hesitation.

Since 2020, the Rwandan soldiers have played a pivotal role in ensuring the security of the capital. Patrolling the streets of Bangui, these troops, equipped with armored vehicles, conduct security checks to maintain the tranquility of the city.

Their presence is notably evident in commercial areas where locals continue to sell their products unhindered. Whether offering delectable chicken meat or managing bars and stalls with a variety of items, business carries on smoothly.

The positive impact of this heightened security resonates among the residents. During interviews with IGIHE, a motorcycle taxi driver, a kiosk vendor, and a passerby expressed a sense of peace, engaging in their nighttime activities without concerns.

The motorcycle taxi driver shared a poignant personal story, recounting how he had to flee to Cameroon in 2013 during the turmoil that claimed his father’s life. It was only with the return of security that he could come back and pursue a career as a motorcycle taxi driver.

He acknowledges the reassuring presence of Rwandan soldiers, particularly between 9 PM and 10 PM, contributing significantly to the city’s safety.

Claude, another resident, acknowledges the improvements in recent years thanks to the security control activities of the Rwandan military. However, he emphasizes that specific areas require increased attention due to the presence of security-threatening groups, including former members of armed groups like Séléka, who joined François Bozizé’s CPC.

Despite these challenges, nightlife in Bangui continues to flourish. A money transfer service trader attested to the thriving business, especially during weekends. He revealed that in a week, he can process money transfers of up to 150,000 CFA on his phone, while small merchants can earn up to 200,000 CFA from their stalls.

The nighttime scene in Bangui reflects a delicate balance between rebirth and vigilance. The unmistakable presence of the Rwandan army has undeniably contributed to the city’s stabilization, allowing residents to engage in their nighttime pursuits with a newfound sense of serenity.