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Rwanda Culture

Rwanda is rich in Traditional Culture and Practices, many of which are practiced and passed on to the next Generation that will be Rwanda. Rwandan Traditional Dances are alive and well, wherever you go on your visit to Rwanda you will see a Traditional Dance & Music performance. Rwandan Dances and Music are unique since the performances unlike traditional Dance presentations in other African countries. Rwanda has a variety of music and dance which inspire audiences in the 21st Century as they inspired the court of the King in the past with songs of courage, bravery, and triumph.

The traditional IbyI’wacu Village that portrays Life in Rwanda is the perfect afternoon event after gorilla trekking tours in Volcanoes National Park. You can learn how to drum, dance, shoot a bow, traditional medicines from the forests, cooking, gathering and hunting and even become King or Queen for the day or next 10 minutes. Overnight stays in the Village are possible where you stay in a traditional dwelling and you can share in the cultural events of the evening including traditional meals and dancing. The Village is made up of many former poachers who are now supporting their families through Tourism.

As you visit Rwanda and stay in various hotels – you will find the unique Imogongo Cow Dung Paintings hanging in Hotels and Lodges all over Rwanda. It is an old cultural tradition that has been practiced in the Village of Nyakarambi  where cow dung paintings were done on the inside of houses to decorate them – today you can find Imogongo Tables, Mirrors, Wall hangings, even purses with a bit of Imogongo Cow Dung Art. You can even take classes in the village in the Art of Imogongo. An art-form that almost died out due to modern paints, however after the Genocide the art was revived in its original form and is thriving today.

You can spend a day or two with Azizi Life in rural Rwanda and experience what life is like for rural Rwandans. Prepare a meal, dig in the gardens, enjoy a lunch with your Rwandan Hosts and learn how to weave, carve, and create crafts and art from artisans that are part of co-op supported by Azizi Life. This is a most memorable, one of a kind experience in Rwanda, experience where you often become life-long friends with your hosts.

Cows in Rwanda are revered – especially the Ankole Cows that are called Inyambo Cows in Kinyarwanda.  They have been considered the cattle of Kings in Rwanda and Western Uganda, you may not revere the cows of Rwanda but you will be most amazed the size of their horns and often the beauty of their coats. If you are on a safari with us in Rwanda and Uganda you will see them along the roads, on fields, herded often by young boys and if you are eating a steak in Rwanda or southwest Uganda – Ankole cattle produces the lowest cholesterol meat found anywhere.  One reason that Ankole – Watusi Cattle are being raised in various parts of the world, especially by US Cattle-Ranchers.

The Umuganda Day. The word Umuganda can be translated as ‘coming together for a common purpose to make a better outcome. In the traditional Rwandan culture, members of the community would call upon their family, friends and neighbours to help them complete a difficult task. This Cultural Tradition of Umuganda revived in post-Genocide Rwanda is one of the reasons that Rwanda is clean.  Every Fourth Saturday of the Month, everything stops, closes and people embark on cleaning their neighborhoods, towns, building, clearing streams, repairing roads and more. Rwanda was the first country to ban plastic sacks, in fact, when entering Rwanda you will be searched for them.  Walking on the grass – a no-no in Rwanda.  Rwanda keeps clean due to the Cultural Practice of Umuganda Day.

Sambaza Sardines have become part of the culture of Lake Kivu, from the ritual of the fishermen going out to catch and coming home, always accompanied by song. They are most often prepared by frying and around Lake Kivu most visitors to a home will get a serving of Sambaza Sardines. Lodges, Hotels around the Lake will cook you up a batch of them and often they are eaten as an appetizer or snack along with fries and at better hotels and lodges you might have a salad served with them.  Outings in a Sambaza Fishing Boat can where you get to learn the culture of the fishermen.

If there is a dish that is loved by Rwandans when going out – it is Goat, Beef, Chicken, Pork, Fish, and Vegetable Brochettes. Most everywhere you go in Rwanda Meat or even Vegetable Brochettes are readily available – often served with roasted chunks of potatoes or with Fries.  Accompanied by a Primus or Muetzig Beer, a bit of music in the background for Rwandans this becomes Heaven on earth. Brochettes are most often barbecued over an open fire, sometimes the meat has been marinated for extra flavour and tenderness. Visitors to Rwanda enjoy this National Dish that has become part of Rwandan Culture.

Some of Africa’s Best Coffee is grown and processed in Rwanda.  Rwandans, for the most part, do not drink coffee themselves (Tea is what Rwandans drink) , but growing coffee such as the renowned Bourbon Coffee has become a part of Rwandan Life and Culture even if most Rwandans do not drink it, they are making money from Gourmet Coffee. In Kigali more and more Rwandans are frequenting the local coffee shops.  The coffee culture of Rwanda is emerging but far from being in full bloom but is on the way. Along Lake Kivu you can take a Crop to Cup Coffee Tour which is a half-day tour and includes an island visit and culminates with a lunch and Rwandan Coffee.

The 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi People has brought about profound changes in Culture of Rwanda.  The Genocide Memorials are vivid reminders of the reality of the 1994 Genocide since Genocide Deniers abound as recently demonstrated by a BBC so-called Documentary which was a simply a farce and faced criticism from historical Scholars far and wide. The Genocide Memorials are also part of Rwanda’s Resolve to “Never Again” experience or revisit the violent past of hatred and death against a people.  Today everyone in Rwanda is a Rwandan and there is no identification that denotes ethnicity such as Hutu, Tutsi or Twa. Never Again – Reminders – the Genocide Memorials are found all over Rwanda and the most notable is in Kigali.