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Visiting Gicumbi

Visiting Gicumbi

On one side of the hill, I saw Gatuna border post and stunning hills rolling like ocean waves all the way to the most pristine parts of southwestern Uganda. On the other side, the view of the National Liberation Museum Park in Mulindi Sector was clear. Down the valley, acres and acres of sprawling tea fields took my breath away.

I was on a hill known as Ikiraro k’Inyambo located in Kaniga Sector, Gicumbi District. My host, Maître Rutinywa Kageyo, is the author of a book titled, Rwanda: Pastoral Evolution and the Place of Inyambo. He owns many cows, including a good number of inyambo, the famed long-horned cows featured prominently in his book. The book, boasting an enticing foreword written by President Kagame, sheds light on the evolution of cattle rearing and the nobility of cows in the Rwandan culture.

My conversation with Maître Kageyo revolved around different topics, including karate, patriotism, the liberation struggle and cows. He is a former karate coach and a retired soldier who fought the liberation war in the 1990s. His first name has something to do with his karate background. Maître is a French word that means master. Addressing trainers as masters is common in karate.

The black belt holder recollects his encounter with the late Maître Sayinzoga Jean in the 1970s. "It was Sayinzoga who groomed me and horned my karate and life skills. He instilled discipline and work ethic into my life. He made me who I am today." Kageyo told me.

Maître and I discussed a variety of topics over milk. When this was going on, his wife kept refilling my cup. She is like those aunties who won’t stop feeding you while accusing you of losing weight. I am talking about those aunties who never take no for an answer. Under their care, your opinion of what is enough is completely disregarded. What could be your weight loss success story in the city is utter nonsense to them.

During my frequent visits to rural Rwanda, I share banana beer with elders quite often. This time around, I was served milk — a lot of it. Milk resonates perfectly with Kageyo’s farm and the culture he is preserving.

"How many cows do you have?" I asked him. "We don’t disclose the number of cows we have. All I can say is that I own a few of them." That was a familiar response. My own uncles always claim to own ’just a few’ even when the sizes of their flocks tell a different story.

The hill on which Ikiraro k’Inyambo is found used to be the site of radio Muhabura, the voice of inkotanyi. Plans are underway to recreate the studio and preserve this location of historical significance. In the meantime, the farm offers unparalleled cultural experiences and a lot of milk.

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