As one ventures to Nyamasheke Parish St. Augustine TVET School, a stone's throw away from Kagano center in Nyamasheke district, they encounter the former residence of King Kigeli IV Rwabugiri, a site where the monarch last celebrated Umuganura. Nestled beside the school in Ninzi cell, Kagano sector, the residence boasts two grand, ancient ficus trees (umuvumu) with their graceful, curvy branches. Known as ibigabiro, these trees have graced the loyal residence for countless years, standing as witnesses to the rich history held within. A nearby signpost offers insights into the historical significance of this location. ALSO READ: A trip to Rubengera, where King Kigeli IV Rwabugiri used to live Underneath the tranquil canopy of the trees, one can observe the earthy brown soil, scattered wilted leaves, and thriving green vegetation on the untamed, uncultivated farm. Positioned just a few meters from the shores of Lake Kivu, the trees are believed to have been deliberately planted at the entrance of the royal residence. King Kigeri IV Rwabugiri, who reigned from 1853 to 1895, had several residences across Rwanda, strategically built along the shores of Lake Kivu. These lakeside retreats served him well in preparing for military expeditions on the opposite side of the lake. Among these regal palaces, Nyamasheke stands out for two compelling reasons. Firstly, it was the location where King Rwabugiri received Von Götzen, a German explorer, during his visit to Rwanda in May 1894. After this encounter, the king returned to Nyamasheke to celebrate Umuganura, the National Harvest Day, in June 1894, followed by a significant military expedition in Bunyabungo (now part of the Democratic Republic of Congo). Andre Ntagwabira, an archaeologist working with Rwanda Culture and Heritage Academy (RCHA), explains that before the Umuganura celebration at the palace, witch doctors conducted rituals to sanctify the city where the event would take place. The purified location would then be presided over by the king during the festivities. Additionally, Nyamasheke's royal residence holds historical importance in relation to Rwabugiri's burial. It served as the place where Rwabugiri's body was initially received before being laid to rest at Rutare (Gicumbi district). According to Ntagwabira, a tragic event occurred during King Rwabugiri's journey to the battlefields at Bunyabungo. He was poisoned at Ibinja Island and, despite efforts to return him home, he passed away in the boat before reaching his destination. The historical site was once adorned with numerous ficus trees, left untouched until they succumbed to old age. To preserve this significant location, Nyamasheke district, in partnership with RCHA, has devised a comprehensive plan to transform the area into a magnificent garden. Even when the trees eventually fall, the site will continue to be cherished and revered. A short distance from Nyamasheke's former residence, travelers arrive at Murwa, a small peninsula of great significance as the grazing land for the king's cattle. Locals have historically frequented this place to collect manure for their farms, a tradition that still persists today. Gaetan Samvura, a 93-year-old resident nearby, attests to the oral transmission of history from one generation to another. Parents play a crucial role in passing down the historical knowledge to their children, ensuring that it remains alive and cherished over time. RCHA remains dedicated to studying various historical and heritage sites, with a particular focus on engaging the youth in preserving Rwanda's rich history. The Rwanda Heritage Hub, initiated by the institution, provides a platform for the youth to research various topics deeply rooted in Rwandan tradition. Their findings were exhibited during a temporary exhibition at Nyamasheke, featuring photos, text, and videos that allowed visitors to immerse themselves in the research and learn from the nation's vibrant past.