When it comes to cultures and traditions, Rwanda is a typical African boiling pot due to the wide range of interesting traditions and values worth discovering during Rwandan tours. This country’s culture doesn’t only include the traditions of the natives but also the neighboring countries, especially Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Much as Rwanda had her own share of wars and conflicts in the past and the introduction of modernization, the culture is still authentic. This country is comprised of three main ethnic groups that include the “Hutu”, “Tutsi” and the “Twa”, and are grouped according to the perceptions of ancient originals rather than cultural differences.

Much as they are different ethnic groups, some things are common among them which include the fact that they all speak the same language (Kinyarwanda), being spread throughout the same area and practice the same religions (there are Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Seventh-Day Adventists).


As earlier mentioned, Kinyarwanda is the native language spoken in this small verdant country although other languages such as Swahili, English and French are also spoken. Kinyarwanda is what you will always hear on the streets of Rwanda and the educated people are fluent in French, which is the official language. However, migrants who went back to the country from Uganda, Kenya, US and Tanzania after the 1994 Rwandan genocide have a tendency of speaking English more than French. If you wish for the Rwandans to embrace you, speak some few words in their local language (Kinyarwanda). As a matter of fact, this doesn’t apply to only Rwandans but all hosts of any country you will visit because it is a sign of respect. Therefore learning and speaking few words like Amakuru (how are you), Mwaramutse (good morning), Mwiriwe (good afternoon), Mwiriwe neza (good evening) or Muraho (good day) will make them happy.


This country’s cuisines are based on the local staple foods grown by traditional subsistence farming. In the past, the foods varied among the three ethnic groups (Hutu, Tutsi and Twa) but has gradually evolved. Some of the traditional staple foods in Rwanda include cooking plantains (locally known as Ibitoke), cassava, Ibihaza (prepared from mixture of pumpkins with beans), Ugali (Posho), sweet potatoes, bananas, beans and yams among others. These are served with Isombe (made from mashed cassava leaves and prepared with dried fish), fish, beef, goat and chicken. Restaurants in the urban centers like Kigali serve a number of International cuisines such as African, Indian, Italian and Chinese dishes. Chicken, fish, goat, beef, vegetable and pork brochettes served with grilled bananas or French fries are available in famous bars and restaurants.

Traditional music and dance

Traditional dance and music is a fundamental part of most Rwandan Ceremonies, festival and social gatherings and is unique from traditional dance presentations in other African countries. The celebratory traditional dances are n0rmally followed by an orchestra of drums and at least nine sprightly men who eagerly provide the beat of the dance. “Intore dance” as it is commonly referred is the most popular traditional dance in Rwanda and is comprised of 3 main components that are extremely planned. These components include dance of the heroes performed by men, ballet done by women and finally the drums.

It’s undeniable that drums have a great significance and participants normally play in groups of seven to nine. It would be a perfect idea to add traditional dances and music to your itinerary during Rwanda safaris to watch how energetic men and women dance like there is no tomorrow. You will learn more about the Intore dance including its history.


Much as Christianity has always been the core of the country with over two thirds of Rwandans being Christians (mainly Roman Catholics and Anglicans), a small population of Rwandans still hold on to the traditional beliefs, which revolve around a Supreme Being known as “Imana”.

Surprisingly, informal ceremonies are still conducted to ask for Imana’s blessings. It is believed that this god helps in the formation of babies in the wombs of mothers by shaping the clay which is said to form human beings. In Rwanda just like any other African country, marriage is considered one of the most important institutions thus the pressure to marry and have children is always high for individuals from 25 years of age. The difference between now and the past is that with the former couples have the chance to select their own partners unlike with the latter where parents had to first approve or even select the partners. Bride price has to be paid inform of cattle (the key), money and household items.

When it comes to farming, both men and women share work whereby men clear the land and break the soil while the latter plant, weed and harvest. It is the duty of men to oversee the livestock and are assisted by youth who are expected to work as shepherds.

Art and Craft

A number of traditional handcrafts are made within the rural areas of Rwanda and they range from ceramics, basket-making to traditional woodcarvings in addition to the modern paintings. An exceptional Rwandan craft is the cow-dung paintings (locally known as Imigongo) made by the local co-operative in Nyakarimbi Village next to Rusumo waterfalls border with Tanzania. These paintings involve mixing dung with natural soils of different colors (mainly black, brown and white) and are painted into patterned ridges and geometric shapes. You will find them in table, mirrors, wall hangings as well as purses. Besides Imigongo, other crafts include wood carvings and pottery.

In conclusion, Rwanda is a cultural boiling pot with unique languages, cuisines, traditional dance and music, art and craft as well as exceptional beliefs worth exploring during Rwanda tours.