Rwandan Culture, The culture of Rwanda is varied. Unlike many other countries in Africa, Rwanda has always been a unified state since precolonial times, populated by the Banyarwanda, people who share a single language and cultural heritage. Kinyarwanda (spoken by almost every Rwandan) is one of the four official languages of Rwanda along with English, French and Swahili which was recently established as an official language.
The last Saturday of each month is Umuganda, a national day of community service during which the local administration decides on which activity to carry on that day done from morning (around eight o’clock) up to eleven o’clock. The most prominent tourist attraction in Butare is the superb National Museum, which houses perhaps the finest ethnographic collection in East Africa. The Kings’ Palace in Nyanza displays how the ancient Kings used to carry their lives on a daily basis.
Music and Dance play a vital role in the traditions of all Rwandans. They are an integral part of Rwandan ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling. The Rwandan people have a variety of music and dance which range from acts that demonstrate epics commemorating excellence and bravery, humorous lyrics to hunting root. The most famous traditional dance is Intore, a highly choreographed routine consisting of three components – the ballet, performed by women; the dance of heroes, performed by men, and the drums.
Traditionally, music is transmitted orally with styles varying between the social groups. Drums are of great importance, the royal drummers having enjoyed high status within the court of the mwami – the King. Drummers usually play together in groups of seven or nine and collectively produce a hypnotic and exciting explosion set of intertwining rhythms.
A wide range of traditional handicrafts is produced in rural Rwanda, ranging from ceramics and basketry to traditional woodcarvings and contemporary paintings. A good selection of crafted artifacts can be seen in the main market or street stalls in Kigali.
A distinctively Rwandan craft is the cow dung paintings that are produced by a local co- operative in the village of Nyakarimbi near the Rusumo Falls, border with Tanzania. Dominated by black, brown and white whorls and other geometric abstractions, these unique and earthy works can be bought in Kigali, but it’s worth diverting to source to see how the paintings are reflected in local house decorations.
Rwandan cuisine is based on local staple foods produced by the traditional subsistence agriculture. A Rwandan dish can include bananas plantains (known as ibitoke) and pulses OR sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). For those who live near lakes and have access to fish, tilapia is popular. Brochette is the most popular food when eating out in the evening, usually made from goat, but sometimes tripe, beef, pork or fish.
In rural areas, many bars have a brochette seller responsible for tending and slaughtering the goats, skewering and barbecuing the meat, and serving it with grilled bananas. Milk, particularly in a fermented form called ikivuguto, is a common drink throughout the country. Other drinks include a traditional beer called urwagwa, made from sorghum or bananas, which features in traditional rituals and ceremonies. The most popular commercial beers brewed in Rwanda include Primus, Mützig, and Skol.