Nyanza – The Cultural Heritage City

The administrative capital of the Southern Province, Nyanza is the eighth largest city in Rwanda. The most attraction of the region lies in its cultural heritage, which undoubtedly merits a stopover on the way to Nyungwe National Park.

Well worth a visit is the King’s Palace, a reconstruction of the normal royal residence, a beautifully-crafted thatched dwelling shaped sort of a beehive. At the rear live a few long-horned Ankole cattle, descended from the king’s herd, whose keepers carefully tend and sing to them.

The King’s Palace
“Inyambo” Traditional Cattle

In the olden days, Rwandan kings were very mobile, moving between numerous residences scattered throughout the dominion. However, by the late 19th century the growing colonial presence risked undermining the authority of the crown. In an effort to counteract this, Mwami (King) Musinga Yuhi V made Nyanza the primary permanent royal capital of Rwanda in 1899. It kept this status until the country became a republic in 1962.

The royal court impressed the Belgians sufficiently that they chose to exert control through the prevailing power structure and largely refrained from intruding on the city. Western accounts filled with color, pomp, and ceremony blend with Rwandan oral tradition to place Nyanza firmly on the map of cultural heritage.

Whilst Nyanza’s hillsides are not any longer covered in roundhouses and the royal court is long dispersed. The region remains a crucial cultural center. Other attractions include the Ethnographic Museum in nearby Huye.

Nyanza is historically known for its yogurt and kefir (traditionally called ikivuguto in Ikinyarwanda, Rwanda’s language). Ikivuguto, being a fermented beverage, was, and still is, popular for its healthful qualities. The town contains two dairies. Laiterie de Nyabasindu is one of Rwanda’s largest milk and yogurt producing companies. Many small restaurants and shops in town sell ikivuguto by the cup or in large plastic containers to take away. Several shops in town sell bottled or packaged individual servings of ikivuguto or yogurt with added sugar or flavor, such as vanilla or strawberry. You are most welcome to Visit Rwanda.

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