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Cultural Traces Around the World

Rwanda: The Awakened Land of a Thousand Hills, Part 1 of 2

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Located in the heart of Central Africa, just south of the equator, Rwanda is a landlocked country bordering Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Tanzania. Situated on the far western edge of the Rift Valley, it is mostly covered by beautiful hills and mountains, which is why it’s also known as the “Land of a Thousand Hills.” Because of its high latitude, the weather in Rwanda is very mild, with little variance in temperature between the seasons.

One of the national environmental goals of Rwanda is to become the cleanest country in the world; so the government has implemented various measures, including banning the use of plastic bags, introducing large-scaled reforestation and tree-planting programs, and investment in green energy production. What’s more, with its continuous peace-keeping efforts since 1994, the country has emerged as one of the safest in the world for solo travelers according to a survey in early 2022.

The concept of “Umuganda” is an important part of Rwanda’s culture. “Umuganda” means “coming together for a common purpose” in the Kinyarwanda language. It’s customary for people to invite family members, friends, and neighbors when they need help on their farm or to complete a major project, such as building or renovating a house.

The people of Rwanda are committed to providing the best possible education for their young generation. Included in the “Indangamirwa” or “Role Model” program is “itorero” for both boys and girls, and “urubohero” especially for girls. In the modern “itorero” system, boys and girls both learn the native Kinyarwanda language, social and leadership skills, sports, and traditional songs and dances. In the “urubohero” program, girls learn about health and etiquette, and further develop their life skills and self-esteem.

Agriculture plays an important role in Rwanda and contributes to 39% of its gross domestic product; 80% of its employment; and 90% of its food. With abundant vegetables and fruits, it is very easy for Rwandans to produce healthy vegan food. Several vegan restaurants in the capital city Kigali offer traditional Rwandan dishes with modern twists that are both appetizing and visually appealing.

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