Nyanza-Cultural tourism was launched Tuesday evening amid pomp, colour and dance.
Every activity at the event that took place at the Rukari Palace in Nyanza, Southern Province, was both engaging and rare to the mammoth crowd that turned up.
‘Inyambo’, the traditional cows draped in neckline beads, were last seen in 1959, at the end of King Mutara Rudahigwa III’s reign.
The Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth, Protais Mitali, who presided over the ceremony, said that the day’s theme, “Dignity”, is a Rwandan cultural trait.
“This is an important day because it emphasises the value of our cultural and historical heritage. We have to promote our culture in order to benefit from it economically,” Mitali said.
He added that the official launch of the ‘Irembo Ritaha Inyamibwa’ program at the Rukari History Museum, in Nyanza, aims at promoting cultural tourism.
“Rwandans of all age groups and walks of life should embrace this initiative by visiting the museums. We should love our cultural heritage for others to appreciate it,” the Minister emphasised.
The launch was organised by the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (INMR).
According to Alphonse B. Umulisa, the Director INMR, the launch was a historical day for the museums and the country at large.
“Museums and cultural heritage have a vital role to play since they create jobs and contribute towards the national coffers,” Umullisa explained.
Cultural activities such as weaving, drum making, making of the backcloth, traditional beer packaging and milking were some of the other highlights of the launch.
Gideon Rudahunga, the Director of Vocational and Technical Schools in the Southern Province, said the launch of cultural tourism creates awareness on the need to value the country’s culture.
“This event created a platform for students in vocational schools to learn skills used by our ancestors alongside modern technology. People who have skills such as making backcloth are very old, thus young people need to be trained so as to pass it on to future generations,” says Rudahunga
Gloria Magambo, who works with the National University of Rwanda said: “It’s travelling back into our past”.
“It’s not an everyday thing that we get to see long-horned cows or see little children drinking milk from ‘ibyansi’ (wooden bottles). It’s good to always look back and see the beauty of our culture,” Magambo observed.
Guido Gryseels, the Director of Belgium-based Royal Museum of Central Africa expressed his fascination by the traditional dance accompanied by the soothing rhythm of the drums.
“What I found most interesting was this play where there was this mix of traditional Rwandan dance and the contemporary one. It was amazing how they tried to blend modern culture with the traditional culture and the link to their heritage,” Gryseels said.