Nyanza, the historical heart of Rwanda

Nyanza town is close to 89 kilometers from Kigali, which is basically a 90-minute drive. The drive there will open your eyes to the developments occurring in rural Rwanda

Nyanza town is close to 89 kilometers from Kigali, which is basically a 90-minute drive. The drive there will open your eyes to the developments occurring in rural Rwanda.

After branching off the main road that continues to Huye, the first feeling you get when you enter Nyanza is tranquillity. The hospitality is unmatched, as people are all too willing to help you find transport in case you are not driving.

If you are into historical events, then Nyanza is the place for you because it is the centre of Rwanda’s old kingdom. It’s the home of Rwandan kings and queens - also their resting place.

If you like adrenaline, then a moto will definitely suit you best and get you to famous places in this town which include the Ancient History Museum and the Rwesero Arts Museum, the charge being an easy RWF 500.

The Ancient History Museum in Nyanza- Rukali is a modern home that was once the residence of King Mutara Rudahingwa III, built by Belgian colonialists. It’s currently a tourist attraction containing artefacts that can be traced way back to the 15th Century.

Of course, as a tourist attraction, it is not free entry! They charge RWF 200 for Rwandan students and Rwf 500 for adults. Resident foreigners pay Rwf 2,000 while non–residents pay Rwf 3,000 and foreign students, Rwf 1,000.

Next to the modern house is a grass- thatched house which depicts the original palace. Inside the house are amazing objects that were used in the homes of ancient Rwandans. The indoor fire place at the centre of house is quite puzzling as one can’t help but wonder how the house never caught fire yet it was constructed mainly with grass.

The kind of food and alcohol consumed in ancient Rwanda is described by the unique pots and calabashes of all sizes. Given the fact that milk was and still is the Traditional drink, the containers used to preserve milk vary in material.

The tour-guides are well versed with the country’s history and to add icing to the cake, they have a good command of Kinyarwanda, English and French.

You can only be assured of seeing the royal Rwandan cows, the famous Inyambo, if you visit Nyanza- Rukali.

Nyanza- Rukali will always be one of my most memorable places because it is where I first saw a cow being milked. Not that I thought milk comes from the fridge but it was the first time I was actually involved in milking.  There is something extremely graceful about the Inyambo cows, a certain majesty they display even as they are being milked.

Nyanza is known as the place that flows with milk and honey, so it comes as no shock walking through and seeing people with 5 litre jerry cans of milk.

If you’re interested in art, Nyanza is the place to be.  The Rwesero Arts Museum located across the hill before Rukali displays contemporary art. The art museum was originally built as a place for King Mutara Rudahingwa III but he died before moving in. The art museum comprises of several art pieces ranging from paintings to sculptures. Annual art exhibitions based on themes are held and artists from around the world showcase their skills - the best art piece is bought for the museum.

On a nearby hill, at Mwima, lay King Mutara III and his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda.

If you’re interested in Rwandan history you must visit Nyanza Town.


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