Amasunzu is a traditional Rwandan hairstyle that was once worn by men and women. The unique style is created by cutting some of the hair sideways and braiding the top. A person who had this hairstyle was identified as powerful, noble, prestigious, and brave. Amasunzu hairstyle made a comeback in 2018 when Lupita Nyong’o wore it on the red carpet at the Oscars. Visit the king’s Palace and the Ethnographic Museum to learn more about Rwanda’s cultural heritage.
The finest displays of Rwanda’s dynamic traditional musical and dance styles are performed by the Intore Dance Troupes. Founded several centuries ago, the Intore, (The Chosen Ones) who performed exclusively for the Royal Court, was given military training and taught the technique of jumping which forms a significant part of the dance. Performed wearing grass wigs and clutching spears this dance is a true spectacle of Rwanda.
Live dance performances can be seen at cultural villages, and museums and as entertainment at many lodges and hotels across Rwanda. The Gorilla Guardians village in Musanze and the National Museum of Rwanda have regular performances.
Weaving and basket making is a traditional art still used today to make dry containers for storing food and medicines. These are also known as peace pots and had traditional values such as commemorating weddings or as a welcome gift.
Pottery is one of the oldest forms of art in Rwanda and can still be seen in many towns today using traditional Batwa techniques. Known for its good quality clay these potteries are still widely used for cooking and storing liquids.
A distinct Rwandan craft is the Imigongo or cow dung paintings that are produced by a local co-operative in the village of Nyakarambi near the border with Tanzania. Dominated by black, brown, and white whirls and other geometric shapes, these unique and earthy works can be bought in craft markets throughout the country.
Translated from Kinyarwanda as “coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome”, Umuganda is when Rwandans from all walks of life come together to work for the good of their neighborhoods and their nation as a whole. On the last Saturday of every month, shops are closed, buses stop running, traffic disappears from the roads, and Rwandans set aside their personal business for the morning and contribute their efforts to public works projects around the country, which can include litter cleanup, tree planting, building houses for the vulnerable, and more. The social and economic benefits of Umuganda are easy for all to see (Rwanda isn’t the cleanest country in Africa by accident!), and whether or not you have special skills to contribute, all visitors are warmly invited to take part; given the range of projects addressed through Umuganda, you’re sure to find one to fit your interests.