Flashback on Rwandan culture
Rwanda as a sovereign nation has existed for century’s way before colonial powers set foot on African soil. At that time, Rwandans were governed by a king who had all powers and authority over his subjects.
Rwandan Kingdoms existed through various stages of formation that were based on stable political, socio-economic organization as well as strong cultural principles and customs.
This form of organization was sustainable in the form of clans based structures that played an important role in the leadership chain at that time. These were led by clan heads or ministers in the kingdom who directly reported to the king.
During the formation of Nyiginya Kingdom- Rwanda’s first kingdom, emphasis was put on the importance of Rwandans belonging to clans. T
his was an oral tradition that included lineages (Umuryango) that were not at all based on ethnicity. Ethnic identity classifications only took root only after 1897 when Rwanda was colonized.
Consequently, the strong cultural values and customs of Rwanda lost their grip as divisionism was promoted that eventually led to the genocides in Rwanda, latest being the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
With all said and done, time has proved to be a healer of broken customs and traditions. Just like many other African cultural entities, Rwandans are striving against all odds to bring back the essence of their culture that was broken.
Today, Rwanda’s culture stands firm as one of the few and rare ones around the world. This is witnessed today in the form of its traditional Kinyarwanda dance, music, dress code, beliefs and norms, the significance of its staple food like sorghum and drink like milk as well as language that so often grace social occasions like weddings and formal settings in both the country’s public and private sectors.
This simply means that culture in Rwanda is a powerful tool that has been so well integrated in current developments and as a result something good and new is being generated.