Are Rwandan cultural values slowly fading away with the growing globalisation and foreign influence? Whose job is it to preserve whatever is left of it?
For one Joy Nzamwita Uwanziga, a Rwandan author based in the Netherlands, Rwandan aouthors have a task to document culture, traditions and values for cultural preservation.
In her new book ‘Manners in Rwanda’, released in May, the author seeks to give indepth insights into the country’s history, cultural and societal values, as well as emerging trends.
Ranging from details about housing, communication, recreation to cuisine, religion, wedding, intimacy, art and language, the book contains rich information on Rwanda’s lifestyle and culture.
The author admits to have been driven by the growing foreign influence in the country, as well as the large number of Rwandans living abroad who seem to be fast forgetting their culture.
Describing her book as ‘a blend of classical and contemporary Rwanda’, Uwazinga said is the result of extensive research and targets multiple audiences ranging from tourists, ordinary Rwandans to linguists and researchers.
Speaking to The New Times from The Hague, Netherlands, Uwanziga said Rwandan culture, like many African cultures, does not have a history of written literature but rather based on strong oral tradition ranging from poetry to folk stories.
“Our forefathers may not have had a chance to be very educated, but they had character which helped them to achieve great things,” Uwanziga said.
The literature piece also attempts to explain misconceptions and perceptions about Rwandans and their culture.
The 437-page book was published by Inkwater Press, an American publishing house, and is now available in hard copy and on online literature retail platform Amazon.com.
In Rwanda, it is available in leading book stores such as Ikirezi Bookshop, Caritas and Excel Bookshop.
So far, the literally piece has received positive reviews and feedback, leading the author to receive a publishing contract for three other books.
“I have already started on the next one. I was recently contacted by a publishing house in the United Kingdom, requesting me to write three books with them covering costs of editing, designing and publishing. That was very encouraging for me,” the writer said.
Uwanziga is currently involved in efforts to promote the book across Europe in intercultural festivals.
“In September, I will be one of the exhibitors at an embassy festival in The Hague, the Netherlands, an international event that showcases different cultures through art, debates and readings. It will be a good opportunity to show the festival visitors (approximately 15,000 visitors) what my country has to offer and the uniqueness of our culture,” she told this paper.
The book will also feature at the Drongo language festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands; an International Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany, among other intercultural festivals in Europe and America.
Maurice Manzi, a local literally enthusiast and researcher, said the book will serve the purpose of painting a picture of social aspects of the Rwandan society.