Inside the museum at École Privée Marie Auxiliatrice in Kiyovu Sector, Nyarugenge District, a 7-year-old student is stirring milk to produce butter. It is a Friday and students are engaged in a cultural exhibition with a resolve to preserve the beauty of Rwanda’s cultural heritage.
They are exhibiting and explaining the purpose of the various cultural items to government officials among other people who were visiting the Museum.
Items such as Inkono, a traditional pot used for cooking; Ingobyi, a palanquin that was in the past used as an ambulance to take patients to health facilities for treatment; Urusyo a millstone which was used for grinding cereals for flour; Urutaro, the traditional tray used for winnowing; Umuzinga, a honeybee; and Igisasiro, a bed on which the king used to lie, among others, are housed at the Museum.
The school’s museum is called ‘Agapfundikiye Gatera Amatsiko’ – loosely meaning ‘what is inside creates curiosity.’
While visiting the museum, Edouard Bamporiki, Chairman of National Itorero Commission observed that this is the first primary school in Rwanda to possess a museum.
It was in 2016 that the school set up this museum with the aim of helping children learn about Rwandan culture.
“This is a big privilege for kids to be having cultural knowledge about our ancestors, I wish every school could set up a museum to keep our culture alive,” Bamporiki said.
Dr Isaac Munyakazi, the State Minister in charge of primary and secondary Education applauded the articulacy expressed by the students while enlightening several cultural aspects.
Munyakazi also appreciated the idea of initiating a museum in school and urged the rest of the schools to take a leaf from École Privée Marie Auxiliatrice in order to keep the Rwandan culture alive from generation to generation.
“It’s a great honour to be with kids who are so interested in our values, culture, and understanding taboos. I believe that there are so many people including some elders who don’t know the names of those materials they explained,” he said.
Munyakazi underscored the importance of learning culture in schools, observing that learning mathematics, technology, and sciences should be linked with exploring Rwandan culture so as to preserve it effectively.
“Values are instilled in youth from a tender age, and as elders work relentlessly to pass down culture to their children, they’re cognizant of the existence of the significant clash between their culture and emerging ones,” he said.
“Although students need to learn other subjects, culture is still relevant in any given society to create that kind of cohesion that is needed, and the sense of identity that makes us who we are,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jacques Nzabonimpa, the in-charge of culture promotion at Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture (RALC), said that it’s important for every school to have a museum for children be instilled with cultural values and norms at a tender age so that they become more aware of their origin.
He also said it strengthens the importance of the Kinyarwanda language which is critical in fostering Rwandan cultural aspects and norms.