The awesome resilience of the Banyarwanda culture and the new challenges it faces

It is excusable for a foreigner who has stayed in a place for centuries to forget his or her original way of life and adopt new cultures in the secondary settlement.
Cultural dancers.
Cultural dancers.

It is excusable for a foreigner who has stayed in a place for centuries to forget his or her original way of life and adopt new cultures in the secondary settlement.

It is truly amazing to find that despite the many years in exile and the social indoctrination that befell the Banyarwanda in other lands, a big segment retained and practiced their culture up to the time of return.

Comparable to the Jews, the Banyarwanda have from time immemorial undergone a number of remarkably dire situations. These included evictions, exterminations and resentments in some parts of the world where they had taken refuge.

But what is astonishing is their remarkable ability not to let fate take away their priceless way of life. They held onto their cultures amidst so many challenges and this was ingrained in their undying hope that one day they would return home.

I remember when I was a little boy somewhere in central Uganda, my parents and other relatives used to gather on Saturday evenings and sing Kinyarwanda songs while dancing traditional dances (Igishakamba).

In other parts of Uganda like Kiboga and Mpigi districts where Banyarwanda settled in large numbers, their traditional customs were so strong in that some natives of those places adopted them.

Among the customs that punctuated the Banyarwanda in the Diaspora were witnessed in their marriages, survival activities like cattle rearing, entertainment, socialization and many others.

Their cultures were centered on responsible living through hard work, maintaining a strong bond between families and friends with an overall intention of living a meaningful and fulfilling life.

Children were made to start speaking the language from the infancy and they effortlessly learnt and spoke Kinyarwanda with an instinctive touch. They also picked up other languages which they also spoke fairly well.

Exchanging cattle and making blood pacts between friends and families were intended to strengthen the bonds, and these planted seeds of solidarity among Banyarwanda in the Diaspora which saw a fruitful return home.

The Banyarwanda students Community of Kyambogo (BAKUSCO) established an undertaking of visiting fellow Banyarwanda scattered in the many parts of Uganda. This had the aim of promoting and revitalizing their culture in a progressive sense. 

Today the Rwandan culture has won several international accolades and has remained a center of admiration from outsiders. Tourists and other visitors to Rwanda have always been mesmerized by our traditional dance and other crafts.

Even now that we are going into the East African Community which means opening up and working closely with multiple cultures, we are optimistic that our strong culture will go through this merger without compromising its purity and philosophy.

In a recent interview with the Minister of Culture and sports Joseph Habineza, he acknowledged the fact that the East African merger will come with a wide range of cultures.

He underscored the need for appreciating those cultures with a goal of picking progressive elements in those cultures and ignoring the bad ones.

Among the cultures to adopt from other players involved in this merger include strategic people handling skills and the value of humility, which form a background for proper human resource management and customer care.