Walking through the main gates, past a narrow street where mototaxis wait for fares, Western eyes are confounded by more stalls, goods and vendors than they have ever seen.
Merchants compete for customers with the intensity of piranhas jostling for the flesh of a water buffalo. They are respectful enough when waved off but have learned to thrust their items into the faces of foreigners as a matter of survival.
Sneakers, handbags, imitation designer watches, sunglasses, suitcases, water jugs, children's toys, pots, pans; all are displayed and for sale.
The market rests inside a steel-framed warehouse that is open on all sides. Steel columns rise from the concrete floor every twenty or thirty feet.
Above them, an intricate series of girders support the roof. Open skylights, rather than fluorescent lights, illuminate the sea of food stands below.
The warehouse is as vast as a football stadium but filled to the brim.
Inside the structure, fruit and vegetable stands extend in every direction. Rwandans busily tend to their business of weighing produce, haggling with buyers, hauling crates, sacks and bunches of bananas.
It is a constant struggle to prevent decay and waste and without air-conditioning or refrigeration the fruit and vegetable vendors have only one real strategy: sell, as much as possible as quickly as possible.
The warehouse is filled with the noisy buzz of a thousand voices in perpetual negotiation.
An occasional word or sentence can be picked out of the gyre but without knowledge of Kinyarwanda or Swahili, it is like the ecstatic babble at a pentecostal church.
In every section of the warehouse buyers and sellers dicker over sums. Few, if any, prices are marked and value is calculated differently in every interaction.
Freezers and other conveniences give them more time than the merchants inside the warehouse to sit and wait for business.
The pace of life is slower and more deliberate. For many, the shops are family businesses they have owned and operated for years. There is little fear of failure or competitors.
Always fresher and more delicious, always bigger and, for you, cheaper than anywhere else you could go.
The claims are made without dishonesty or hyperbole. To them, the meat is sweeter and more delicious, better than any other. It is theirs, and of all the meat they have ever had, there is none they prefer more.
In a continent and country so blighted by hardship and want, the presence of such extraordinary abundance, as at the Kimironko Market, is comforting.
Even if the formalities of ownership and legal title interfere, there is security in the knowledge that a hand extended will come to rest on something nourishing.
It is difficult for any contemporary North American–except maybe those who've been lost in the wilderness–to understand the terror and anguish of utter deprivation. In all but the most extreme situations, it is a threat that has been banished from our lands.
But in Africa, the grim spectre of mortality and starvation hovers just outside the door.
Even if it isn't obvious, as in the urban hub that is Kigali, awareness of devastating scarcity leaves a permanent mark on the minds of those it touches. The mark is invisible but gives clues to its presence.