Rwanda’s cultural eating habits

One would say there is no problem with eating while walking or driving because an individual could be dealing with different tasks at the same time. But in truth, it’s not wise to eat while walking or driving because you could end up chocking.
 Doreen Umutesi
Doreen Umutesi

One would say there is no problem with eating while walking or driving because an individual could be dealing with different tasks at the same time. But in truth, it’s not wise to eat while walking or driving because you could end up chocking.

As a teenager I always felt like my rights where being violated when my father discouraged me from eating the fast food snacks he would buy on our way home. He always insisted that I ate them at home. I had no idea he was saving me from a catastrophe. 

A friend of mine almost lost her life because of things we don’t consider important. She bought chips at a takeaway, rushed into her car and drove off. She decided to eat while she was driving as she was in a hurry. She choked and lost control of the steering wheel because she was too busy gasping for air. Luckily, her co-driver grabbed the steering wheel and managed to steer the car off the road to safety. First aid was immediately offered.

In terms of ancient Rwandan cultural etiquette, it was an abomination for anyone, even a child, to eat while walking or doing anything else for that matter. This was so because they fed on liquids more than they did solid food. In the earlier days milk and alcohol were what Rwandan people fed on more than anything. Milk was considered more nutritious than anything.

When I visit my grandmother, she still offers me milk before I eat anything. She can go without food but a five-litre jerry can of milk is a must in her house. In Rwandan culture, milk is supposed to be handled with utmost respect, for instance it’s a taboo to drink milk using a straw.

According to ancient Rwandan culture, men ate with their sons while women ate with their daughters in the kitchen. In the traditional setting, it was rare to see anyone eating openly.  There are still many people today with this kind of upbringing who only ask for a beverage in restaurants.

In reference to the common English saying ‘Charity begins at home’, it’s hard for someone to act contrary to the way they were brought up at home. Of course they don’t have to tell you to not eat and walk or talk at the same but you can learn some manners based on how your family behaves.

Therefore, let’s not take cultural traits for granted because they are still applicable in our day to day lives.

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