For long, Rwanda has been well known for gorilla trekking, an adventure activity taken in the Volcanoes National Park with a third of mountain gorillas in the whole world. However, in addition to the rare endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife, the culture of the Rwandan people is an attraction and a great experience that every traveler should not miss while on safari in Rwanda. Visitors can experience a lot during their visit and get first hand information. The culture of Rwanda offers the great experience in the following ways:
Culture in Rwanda is passed on from generation to generation, in form of customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values. It consists of Social practices such as birth rituals: guhemba, kurya ubunyanwa: naming ceremony); rituals such: funeral (gushingura, kwirabura, kwera) and festive events (gusaba, gushyingura, gutwikura; umuganura); knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe; traditional craftsmanship.
Culture also includes visiting cultural buildings and historic places, monuments, artifacts among others which are considered worthy of preservation for the future. They include objects significant to the archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specific culture.
Traditional Dance and Music
The traditional dance and music in Rwanda is so different and unique from other African traditional dances due its use of 5/8 rhythm not found anywhere else. As the participants dance, members of the chorus clap their hands to give rhythm and to cheer, encourage, and support the dancers. More still, the dance is choreographic comprising of varied scenarios such as intore (the elite), a sort of war dance which encourages those who wage war or hunt and participants are selected based on their exceptional physical and moral qualities and are characterized by elegance and littleness.
Also, Inkinimba dance is the symbol of strength and stamina, specifically for cattle farmers, and is used to celebrate the harvest, Imishayayo is a very soft dance used to gently rock someone and inanga is the traditional instrument similar to a guitar having 9-12 strings made from cow hide made from a wood called umyungu. Travelers to Rwanda are allowed to take part in the dance which is so interesting and gives them memorable experiences.
Rwanda has different ethnic social group but the important ethnic divisions within Rwandan culture are the Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa all based on perceptions of historical group origins rather than on cultural differences. All three groups speak the same language, practice the same religions, and live interspersed throughout the same territory; they are thus widely considered to share a common culture. The twa is the smallest group and the Hutu are the dominant people in Rwanda with popularity in leadership and land ownership. The behaviors and peaceful interaction among these different groups of people make Rwanda unique in its own not to be missed out by any traveler.
The history of Rwanda tells that Rwanda’s three ethnic groups have been identified with distinct aspects and symbols of the economy, the Tutsi are identified with cattle (cattle keepers) the Hutu with the land (land owners), and Twa with the forests (initially where forest dwellers). Each group has distinct roles in public rituals, and each group had a distinctive mode of dress. The monarchy serves as an important unifying symbol, representing the interest of all three ethnic groups. However history has it that the Hutu and Tutsi were also linked together throughout much of the territory in a system of cattle vassalage, in which Tutsi patrons provided cattle to Hutu clients, this kind of difference is really unique for every traveler to experience when ever in Rwanda.
Food and Customs
The daily food in Rwanda includes beans, bananas, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and sorghum being the most common foods. Dairy products are also widely consumed, particularly a traditional drink of curdled milk. Rwandans traditionally eat food in public settings only for ceremonial purposes but mostly in their homes. In order to fulfill their clan taboos, most Rwandans do not eat the totemic animals associated with their clans.
Festivals & Ceremonies
Important occasions in Rwanda always involve the ceremonial consumption of alcohol and food, but full meals are never served. Here, a pot of sorghum beer is placed in the center of the room with numerous reed straws, and participants come forward to partake. Calabashes of banana beer are passed through the crowd which makes it so interesting for one to experience.
History and the Genocide 1994
By the early 1990s, Rwanda, a small country with an overwhelmingly agricultural economy, had one of the highest population densities in Africa. About 85 percent of its population is Hutu; the rest is Tutsi, along with a small number of Twa, a Pygmy group who were the original inhabitants of Rwanda. From April to July 1994, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in the east-central African nation of Rwanda murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority. Begun by extreme Hutu nationalists in the capital of Kigali, the genocide spread throughout the country with staggering speed and brutality, as ordinary citizens were incited by local officials and the Hutu Power government to take up arms against their neighbors. Presently, there are many genocide memorial sites all over Rwanda where tourists always go for remembrances and commemorations.
Conclusively, Rwanda is the best destination rich in culture and traditional customs. Travelers interested in culture should endeavor to experience the unique culture of Rwanda.