Cultural Attractions found in Rwanda
Rwanda is known worldwide as a country of a thousand hills, however apart from that, it’s one of the richest nations in terms of diversified cultural heritage. Its culture contains both tangible and intangible components which include sites that offer an incomparable view on the beauty of the country which gives visitors a plat form about Rwandan history, culture as well as Mythology. The eastern province of the country provides an insight into most of the cultural sites that make Rwanda a beautiful country.
The institute of national museum is working extremely hard to search and research on the many cultural sites as a way of protecting, identifying and promoting them for cultural tourism. Below are some of the sites which are located in the eastern province.
- Utubindi twa Rubona
This is a cultural site which is located 4 km from the main road of Kayonza Nyagatere in the Tubindi village, Rubona cell, Kizunguro sector in Gatsibo district. The site lies within Rubona primary school and it’s made like a cluster of seven excavations which are shaped like clay pots without rims and necks. Even though their size is different, these pits are the same and it’s a clay pot shaped form thus the name Utubindi which is a Kinyarwanda name meaning small pots. Incase this name is translated, it will be the small pots of Rubona.
These pots were excavated by King Ruganzu 11 Ndoli on his way from Karagwe. When his men arrived there, they were thisty and could not trace any water source around. And skillful Ruganzu used his magic spear and excavated the pits and started drinking water from them. The pits also have Ruganzu’s foot prints and bow trace.
- Urutare Rwa Ngarama
This is also a cultural site which is located in the Ngarama sectorin Gatsibo district. It’s about 20 km from the place called “Mu byapa bya Ngarama” along the main road to Kigali Nyagatare. The local people in this area call it “ Ibare rya Ngarama” being the stone in Urukiga language. This is also an impressive rock which covers a surface area of about 3 hectares on which the features are attributed to a historical figure, King Ruganzu Ndoli. The features here include; foot prints and an area when hit using a stone or metal resonates. The local people here believe that these featires have been fixed there by Ruganzu and have remained as a sign of his incredible knowledge and greatness.
The other people attribute the features to a mythical hero Ngarama who is believed to have killed Saruhara hatched from Nkomokomo.. Saruhara was so powerful and had long ravaged the region before he got killed by Ngarama.
Ryamurari is the name of the site and is located in Bufunda village in Nyagatare district. It’s about 50 hectares and is on top of the hill of Mukama. It consists of three large earth work structures and a stone cut reservoir. Rwamurari was the capital of Ndorwa kingdom before it was added to Rwanda.
The site was investigated in 1970s and was occupied in the middle of 17th century and again re occupied around 1900 AD. The remains found here include; cattle bones and dung suggesting that the inhabitants were cattle keepers. There was a number of grinding stones which showed that along animal husbandry, the inhabitants practiced agriculture.
This site is one of the main archaeological sites in great lakes region and remains a common feature in both Rwanda’s oral traditions and also archaeology. It also has another name called Mu Bitabo bya Gahaya which is in Kinyarwanda and it means a clay curved shape that was constructed before the entrance of a traditional hut. The name also means a place which was inhabited by a great person called Gahaya. The oral tradition associate the earth work structures on top with a swampy depression with salty water located on its foot. It’s also believed that the depression was a trough for the cattle of the king who had constructed the earth works.
Mimuri site is also located near the mimuri market in Nyagatare district. The site is a cluster of five houses were by three of them are circular and the 2 are trapezoid forms. These were built with metal sheets by King Mutara 111during early 1950s. The region of Umutara was a savannah wood land and a hunting place throughout the kingdom period. Rudahigwa liked hunting and this was also a tradition for the Rwandan monarchs to go around their kingdoms, for contemplating it, populace and meeting chiefs.
The house were constructed and used as hunting camp and meeting lace with the rest of the population as well as local chiefs. The site also reflects early Rudahigwa’s aspiration of development and modernity as seen through the materials that he used while constructing. More the architectural designs which include the chimneys for warming up the people during the trading gatherings in the evening.
The richness of Rwanda’s heritage and history is very important and creates an identity of any nation in the world. Rwanda as a country has got rich history that dates back to the colonial and post-colonial as well as kingdoms. This has been explored to be able to attract local and foreign tourism in the country. The country has many museums which continue to explain its past and below are some of them.
- Ethnographic museum (Former national museum of Rwanda)
The former national museum of Rwanda was turned into the ethnographic museum which was started in 1989 and is located in Huye. Before that, the national museum was the only museum in Rwanda and it has the finest ethnographic and archaeological collections in east Africa with over 10,000 artefacts. These show monochrome photographs which show the insights of pre-colonial life styles and the subsequent development of Rwanda into a modern state. This museum also tells the social and cultural aspects of Rwanda were you can find the famous aspects of culture of this country.
- National Arts Museum Rwesero
It’s located across the valley from the museum of Rwandan Ancient History as well as Nyanza Royal palace, this museum displays contemporary artwork which also shows the originality of Rwandan creativity, national, tradition as well history. The pieces also show the originality of Rwanda’s rich history as well as creativity.it was also built as a palace of king Mutara 111and passed away even before occupying it.
- The museum of Rwanda Ancient History
This museum was once the residence of King Mutara Rudahingwa and sits at Rukari near the royal palace. The palace has been restored and it offers a back ground of Rwandan life as it was in the past days. At the neighbouring hill of Mwima, king Mutara as well as his wife were buried. At the museum, there is a traditional house, and a thatched hut which is an imitation of the king ‘palace. The palace differed from the other home steads and his house had three separate poles on which the roof rests.
Later, when the Belgian colonial masters came to Rwanda, they changed all these traditional life styles of the kings and constructed the king a new house which is now the museum that displays Rwanda’s history from the 15th century. Both the museum of Rwanda history and Rwesero Arts museum are located 2km outside Nyanza town in the southern province. The other important aspects of Rwanda’s culture is the cow and milk that symbolise the culture of Rwanda people.
- The Museum of Natural History
The museum is located in Nyarugenge district with in the capital city of Rwanda. It’s known as the house of Kandt since it was a residence which was once occupied by German scientist, Dr Richard Kandt. It was turned into a museum of natural history since Richard was the first German imperial resident in Rwanda and this museum was homage to his work. The German government handed over the site and its art facts to Rwandan government on January 2013.
Rwanda is yet to launch other museums and some of these will include; the presidential palace in Kanombe in Kigali, and the environmental museum in Karogi as well as the liberation.
All the above described places and museums have an outstanding value and are unique cultural heritage sites to Rwanda. Visiting them is a good opportunity of reaching some of the unique corners of Rwanda with its beauty, mythology, history, culture as well as gaining new insights about the culture of Rwanda.
The Royal residence of King Mutara 111 Rudahigwa
The residence was built by Belgium in 1931, the colonial style home served as the royal palace of King Mutara until he died. Unfortunately, all the gifts as well as furniture that he received from the visiting dignitaries were stolen during the genocide of 1994. This home is still interesting with its peculiarities which include; three sitting rooms which was for receiving the visitors. Mutara was also the first Mwami to convert to Catholicism and was so liked by the Belgians that once thanked Jesus Christ to having given Rwanda the divine light of Belgian colonial administration its science of good government.
It’s based in Nyanza, which is 88km south of Kigali city, it offers a detailed look into Rwandan Traditional seat of their monarchy, and this is also an impressive museum which was restored in the 19th century and made entirely with its traditional materials. The long horned cows which are known as Inyambo were recently introduced because they an integral part of Rwandan culture. On the nearby hill of Mwima, you can as well visit the burial grounds of King Mutara 111 and his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda.