Gatsibo: Rwanda’s Pastoralist Heritage

Gatsibo, A Perfect Destination To Trace Rwanda’s Pastoralist Heritage

Pastoralism is one of the ancient cultures of Rwandese people and has disappeared in the face of modern development but can be traced by visiting Gatsibo district in the eastern province of Rwanda. Cattle are just cattle until you visit Gatsibo, the place where cattle is second to humans when it comes to importance. This district is synonymous with the last remains of Rwanda’s long pastoral history as well as flat landscape and verdant vegetation.

Pastoralist culture has always been hereditary and a visit to this area will introduce you to the rural life of the villages that are gracefully and traditionally organized, hence offering very extraordinary experience on the culture of grazing in addition to introducing tourists to the rich history and value of cattle in this country. Gatsibo is found in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, at approximately 124 kilometres from Kigali City.

Most specifically, a Rwanda safari adventure to this district will introduce you to the Inyambo, the lovely calm cows that are very crucial in many cultural festivals and are brought up by “Kigwa”, a descendent of Gihanga.

Generally, cattle are very significant in Rwanda and other pastoralist communities because it is used for paying dowry as well as strengthening relationships between friends and families. The beauty of the Inyambo Cow is displayed within the cultural dances of Rwanda and a tour to this pastoralist site will allow tourists to see and also participate in the different traditions of cows including cattle grazing, making personal traditional raincoats out of grass and milking cows traditionally with hands and not machines as you might be familiar with.

After milking, the people will show you the various calabashes used in the preservation of milk in addition to learning how to handle the calabashes and drink milk from them. It’s really amazing experience you should add to the bucket list of Rwanda safari adventure.

Calabash for Milk Preservation in Rwanda

Calabash for Milk Preservation

Do you know how yoghurt is made? Well, your visit to this site will take you through some of the processes where fresh milk is traditionally fermented to make traditional yoghurt. Not only that, you will be able to go through the outstanding experience of making ghee, which is usually used for preparing food and if interested, you will get to taste food prepared with ghee.

The tour to this village is beneficial to tourists because they are able to get first-hand information when it comes to pastoral lives but also significant to the locals because currently over 30 pastoralists and their families directly benefit from the tour in addition to the whole community gaining from the existing Tourism Community Development Fund.

Interestingly, a visit to this cultural site will also reward tourists with the opportunity of learning about the spectacular historical monuments left behind by some of the former Kings such as Rwabugiri, Musinga I, Ruganzu, Mutara III and Rudahigwa.

In conclusion, with development and modernization, most authentic cultural sites in Rwanda are no more but visiting the outstanding Gatsibo district will introduce you to the long pastoral history of people of Rwanda.