The Rwanda culture is made up of various ways of life but a bigger percentage is attached to the traditional values and principles. As the world is growing, more of modernization is coming up and is embraced but the Rwandans never forget their roots. Rwanda has three tribes which are the Hutu, Tutsi and Twa, these ethnic groups have the same beliefs and ways of life and all speak one language Kinyarwanda, they also speak other languages like French, English and Swahili. Rwanda also has people from its neighboring countries and also whites.
The banyarwanda where centralized and united before the Europeans came to their country, they believed the first inhabitants were the batwa people who are hunter-gatherers, they are similar to those in Uganda and DRC, these people live in the forests and today they are the smallest ethnic group in Rwanda. The bahutu are believed to be the second group to come to Rwanda and it’s the largest followed batutsi.
The Banyarwanda practice agriculture, they grow crops and also rare animals especially cattle. The work is done by both the men and women, its divided according to the roles and responsibilities. men also take care of the cattle and construction of houses, and women also take care of the children and do house chores. On addition to agriculture, the banyarwanda also make traditional handicrafts like basketry, ceramics, woodworks and paintings.
Music and dance is part of the banyarwanda, they perform for leisure, entertainment and during celebrations like marriage. The Kinyarwanda dance (Intore), is so amazing, it consists of heavy drums which are carried and played by energetic men, men and women who perform the dance, sometimes there is some people who be singing so that the performance becomes colorful. The Kinyarwanda dance demonstrates their tradition as the motions show their way of life like cattle raring, bravery, among others.
Family and Marriage of the Banyarwanda – Rwanda Culture
In the past a family consisted of a father as a head with more than one wife each having her own house, on addition to that, they lived in extended families, they bore children and lived in harmony. Children were and still taken as a sign of wealth, the boys were the ones with the upper hand to inherit the wealth of their father and if he died, it was the eldest son’s responsibility to take care of his mother and other siblings. Giving birth of children out of wedlock was punished by banishment or death in the banyarwanda, and so a girl was trained since childhood to avoid any sexual activity that could lead to a pregnancy. Today most of the families are monogamous, although polygamous is still practiced especially in the rural areas. Rwanda is now moving to modernization and some traditional beliefs have faded away.
Marriage is one of the traditions in Rwanda culture, today things are changing but still a traditional Rwandan marriage never feds away, it’s so interesting, there is traditional music and dance, customs, food and many more. In Rwanda when a man is ready to get a woman for marriage, his relatives could find him a good woman, amongst them they select a man (known as Umuranga) to be a go-between them and the woman’s family and also make research on the woman and her family. This tradition is known as kuranga, after kuranga, a tradition called gufata irembo is done, a special envoy lead by the man’s father is selected to visit the girl’s father to affirm the intentions of his son marrying his daughter, If the girl’s father accepts, preparations would of the introduction ceremony (Gusaba), would then begin.
The Gusaba ceremony is performed by the Umuranga, it a battle that involves traditional tongue-twisters as well as riddles and tricks which are asked by the woman’s family including relatives and the well-wishers from the neighborhood, the Umuranga has to be successful for Gukwa ceremony to begin. The gukwa ceremony involves paying of dowry, both sides meet and negotiate about the dowry, dowry is always in form of cows, the families meet again and discuss and agree on the wedding day. As all the preparations are going on, the bride spends some days with her aunt who advices her on how to take care of her future family. During this time, the bride is fed well and is smeared with perfumed cow-ghee with special herbs to give her softer and smoother skin.
On the day of the wedding, many interesting traditions are performed, singing and dancing can’t be left out, food is always in plenty and merry is all over the place. After the wedding a tradition called Gutwikurura is performed, it involves the wife’s family visiting her new home and bring some gifts to her, she prepares them a meal, they enjoy and set-off back.
Kinyarwanda food – Rwanda Culture
The banyarwanda eat sweet potatoes, maize, millet, sorghum, beans, vegetables, fruits, chicken, meat, fish among others. Different dishes are prepared from this food, some of which include isombe (cassava leaves with eggplant and spinach), ‘Umutsima’ (a dish of cassava and corn) as well as ‘mizuzu’ (fried plantains). The banyarwanda have a special and nutritious drink called Ikivuguto which is fermented milk, they also have Urwagwa which is locally brewed alcohol made from sorghum or bananas.