Rwandans traditionally never ate food at public gatherings; they did it only for ceremonial purposes, but otherwise only ate in the privacy of their homes.
Eating wasn’t a big deal to them; they only valued milk because they were too much into pastoralism.
In the early years, tribes never ate animals associated with their clans and to date most Rwandans still believe in the taboo. It was common to find people having local brew parties without food.
During those early days, important occasions in Rwanda involved the ceremonial consumption of alcohol served with roasted meat.
It was also customary to serve milk to guests when they visited a home. Refusing the offered drink was considered a severe insult to the family.
When eating, children shared food from a large tray placed in the centre of them and this strengthened their relationship.
During those days, hosts used to sip from drinks and taste the food first before passing it on to the guests to prove that it hadn’t been poisoned.
Visitors were presented with gifts like sorghum and millet to take with them at the end of their visit.
Traditional Rwandans also depended on eating roasted meat and drinking cow’s blood. The family would kill a cow especially on ceremonial days and relatives and friends were called to share the meat.
A pot of sorghum beer was placed in the centre of the room with numerous reed straws, and people would suckle at the drink and make merry.
Those who were not comfortable with drinking from the same pot were served beer in calabashes.
To date, the taboo of not eating in public has diminished significantly, and restaurants have appeared in most urban and rural areas.