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Visiting Ikirenga Cultural Center

Visiting Ikirenga Cultural Center

I am writing this piece from Sorwathe Tea Center, a roadside cafe found in Rulindo District. The aroma of my favorite beverage is in the air. The interior is adorned with roots of the camellia sinensis plants.

Tea promotes Rwanda abroad and transforms rural communities back home. At some point during this tour of Rulindo, I will visit the cooperatives of tea growers and Sorwathe’s factory in order to learn more about its supply chain.

As I sip locally grown tea, I am trying to digest all the information I have soaked up in the just concluded tour of Ikirenga Cultural Center. What I thought would be a quick stopover, ended up becoming a 2-hour history crash course.

This experience has enriched my cultural Kinyarwanda vocabulary. In addition, the tour has made me more acquainted with the restoration of the highly decorated feast of Umuganura, after an 11-year hiatus, sometime in the 16th Century. I have also learned one or two things about the nobility of cattle and the evolution of our forefathers’ practical skills through the stone and iron ages.

Ikirenga Cultural Center is found in Rusiga Sector. It was the first place I had planned to visit on my first day in Rulindo but the visit coincided with the 27th commemoration of the Genocide against the Tutsi. After joining the people of Rulindo in a touching remembrance service, I passed by the center and spared a minute to stare at the two statues mounted at the entrance. I wondered whose memory they were built to preserve. The only person available to answer my questions was the security guard who informed me that the giant statue is the likeness of King Ruganzu II Ndoli.

Unfortunately, my informer had no idea who was the woman, sculptured in bronze, at the foot of the king. I couldn’t blame him. He is in charge of security, not tour guiding. I was trying to make him do something out of his job description.

When I returned to the center earlier today, the bona fide tour guide of the facility was on duty. The guide, namely Uwamahoro Jeanne, started her assignment by answering the question I was dying to ask. Who is the woman bowing to the king and what does her gesture mean?

Turns out, the woman in question represents all of us. She is drawing something from the king who left his footprints all over the land of 1,000 hills. "We can learn a lot from Ruganzu’s heroic acts. His legacy continues to instill positive values and patriotism among Rwandans today." Jeanne told me.

I will highlight my tour of the facility in one of my upcoming posts. In the meantime, let me log off, finish my tea and hit the road.

The author is on a tour of all 30 districts of Rwanda. His expeditions in Rulindo are sponsored by Ikaze Rwanda Tours & Travel, The Peakspot Lodge, Beyond the Gorillas Experiences (BGE) and Rusiga Highland Resort.

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