The Iby’Iwacu cultural village in Rwanda
The Iby’Iwacu cultural village in Rwanda, Situated close to National des Volcans (Volcanoes National Park) in Rwanda, is a village known as Iby’Iwacu cultural village. It is not like any other ordinary village as portrayed by its uniquely organized community and extraordinary purposes/features. The village is located in Nyabigoma unit, in the sector of Kinigi in Musanze district, Northern Province. That said, the word Iby’Iwacu is a Kinyarwanda word that means “treasures of our home and heritage”.
More to that, this village is also known as the Gorilla Guardians village and is one of the destinations that makes up the awesome nature of Rwanda in addition to its stunning scenery and beautiful hills. It is also one of the leading cultural attractions in the country. This village is regarded as a special one because it possesses a combination of Rwanda’s history, people and cultural traditions which utterly provides an excellent adventure for its visitors.
The people in this village are friendly and welcoming and they often offer to be host families for the visitors during their stay. The Iby’Iwacu cultural village in Rwanda, This gives the foreign visitors a chance to see what life was like in a typical African village setting for instance: the food; dress code; houses; traditional dances; and how traditional kingdoms used to be organized.
In line with all the above, it is widely believed that the best way to understand the diversity within the human race is by sharing, interacting and getting immersed in the cultures of different societies. Visiting the Iby’Iwacu village therefore enables one to understand and appreciate the uniqueness of the Kinyarwanda culture and heritage.
Activities to take part in during your visit
There are numerous exciting activities that you can be a part of during your visit to Iby’Iwacu cultural village. You may be guided by a well-trained tour guide or your host from the community so as to have a comfortable and educational experience.
The activities in this village include the following:
Visiting a local king’s traditional house
Before paying a visit to this place, you need to get a culture guide who will take you to see the replica of the king’s house and explain all the stories attached to this cultural treasure. This place showcases how the ancient kings ruled and managed their courts. Rwanda’s ancient kings were not only feared but also accorded a lot of respect. They held the highest authority and all their decisions were implemented without questioning. In addition, all that happened inside the place was foreseen by the king, queens, princes, princesses and clan leaders. What’s more, the symbols of power which were used by the ancient kings are currently kept in this house and they contain information about each clan in the kingdom.
One of the most exciting experiences at this place is being enthroned and allowed to act like a king for a few hours while exercising royal powers that are presented to you by a village elder in a certain village ceremony.
Taking a walk in this village can be quite enjoyable and refreshing since visitors are taken by their guides to visit different sites and to get a feel of the local people’s everyday lives. A guided community walk can last for about an hour and during this walk, one can take as many photos as they desire as long as they have attained permission. It would be wonderful to have a piece of these beautiful memories, people and sites to keep or share with your loved homes.
Watching traditional dances and listening to traditional music
It has been widely documented that music, dance and drama define African tradition and culture and offer a sense of belonging and unity. This is not any different when it comes to the Kinyarwanda culture.
There are 8 different types of traditional dances and music in Rwanda. One of the dances is the Intore dance which is a popular warrior dance that is performed by men wearing grass wigs and little bells around their legs while holding out spears in a mock battle as a way of showing celebration of victory over an enemy. The Iby’Iwacu cultural village in Rwanda, The joyful young men and women in this dance will invite you to take part in the dance or teach you how to drum.
Besides the amazing traditional dances, you can also get a chance to listen to the songs of the gorillas sang by the famous Ngayabatema while listening to the beautiful melody produced by traditional musical instruments such as the African drums. There is a variety of musical sounds such as, among others, Ingoma, Umuduri, and Amakondera with each sound being uniquely distinguished by its special musical instruments and dancing styles.
With particular regard to the music and dance component in this village, it is important to note that many of the entertainers were previously poachers in the neighboring forests. However, these people were convinced by the villagers to stop poaching and turn to entertaining visitors through various performances in order to earn a living to support their families.
Interacting with the traditional healers
In this village, you can also get an opportunity to visit the traditional healers and learn how medicinal trees, grass and shrubs are used to cure ailments among the local people. During the ancient times, herbal medicine was highly depended on in African societies for treatment of sick people and this has been maintained in this community to this date. Indeed, herbal medicine has stood the test of time. The Iby’Iwacu cultural village in Rwanda, It is worth noting that the traditional healers are skilled in the application of this medicine majorly due to the vast knowledge and ideas that have been passed on from generation to generation.
Visiting and getting involved in a local school’s program
If you are an education enthusiast and you would like to find out or briefly experience what goes in a local school located in a developing country, this village is the right place for you. You are given a chance to become a student or a teacher for a while and take or give lessons, according to your preference.
Taking part in the local people’s daily activities
While on a visit to this place, you may sit with some of the locals in their traditional homes and grass thatched huts. From there, you may also be taken to visit the local banana plantations and vegetable gardens. You are allowed to help with some of the activities such as; fetching water from the well and carrying it back on the head, cooking using firewood, carrying food from the garden and several others.
There is also an activity known as the Igitaramo whereby everyone gathers around a camp fire before sunset for some entertainment through dance and songs as well as storytelling from the elders.
How can you tour this wonderful village and fail to find out about their food? You can have lunch or dinner occasionally with the local people and if you are interested in learning the different recipes or food preparation methods for example using a special grinding stone to make fine millet flour, all this can be made possible by the local people.
The local banana brewery process
The wonders of this place never end, apart from all the astonishing things that have been mentioned, there is another interesting activity that should be on your bucket list; the local banana brewery process. In the African traditional society, taking local beer in a group setting was a unifying activity especially during ceremonies such as welcoming new born babies and the new harvest. It was also a means of relaxation and sharing joy. Get a chance to be part of the local banana brewery process and even have a taste of the local banana beer after its fermentation.
Visiting the Batwa community
The Batwa pygmies are former forest hunters and gatherers who once lived in the dense forests of Uganda and Rwanda. They were evicted from there by the two governments and resettled in new locations. Some of them settled in this village and many of them became local entertainers after abandoning poaching. They also carry out pottery making and art and design. One amazing thing about them is the demonstration of their expert hunting skills like using spears, bows and arrows and setting traps for animals. Visiting the Batwa is a lovely experience and comes with benefits such as entertainment and learning skills like pottery making.
Other benefits from Iby’Iwacu cultural village
The locals also teach international visitors skills such as carpentry, weaving mats and baskets and hunting.
More to that, this village is suitable for relaxation and has places where one can purchase local crafts, souvenirs and gifts like local paintings, beautiful pots, woven clothes and others for themselves and their loved ones.
Besides being a source of government revenue, the village is a unifying factor for the tribal groups in Rwanda, which include the Batwa, Hutus and Tutsis by encouraging the aspect of oneness based on a common shared ideology.
Guidelines for people who are interested in visiting the village:
- Visitors are prohibited from littering within the cultural centre. There are rubbish bins at specific points to maintain a neat and clean environment.
- Visitors are required to respect nature throughout the safari by avoiding any form of destruction of the natural environment especially plants and other vegetation.
- You need to be careful and sensitive to the local norms and customs to avoid coming across as someone who is disrespectful. Respectful gestures include using both hands when exchanging gifts with a local and using the right hand when eating or greeting the locals.
- Security for the locals is highly considered so if you have donations or gifts, hand them over to the respective authorities first.
- Before using your camera to take any photos, ensure that you ask for permission and when you are not sure about something, feel free to ask the tour guides or the elders. Decent dressing is also highly recommended.
- Foreign visitors are encouraged to share information about their own cultures with the natives. Be friendly and humble, and try to be patient with the natives as they share their information.
COVID 19 and Ebola Travel guidelines
Ensure to follow all the necessary COVID 19 and Ebola travel guidelines to ensure that you are in a safe and healthy condition during your safari with us. One of our major priority is to provide the best possible safety and comfort during your tour, so please be assured that you will be in safe hands.
Some of the travel guidelines include wearing and carrying a sufficient number of surgical masks, moving with an alcohol based hand sanitizer, vaccination against COVID 19 or taking a PCR test and several others. Book with us today and get the safari of your dreams!
Iby’Iwacu cultural village is the perfect place to go for a retreat especially after activities like mountain gorilla trekking in the Virunga national park and mountain hiking or biking through the Congo Nile trail. If you would like to make a booking or get any other information, kindly contact us for your exceptional safari package!