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Basic Facts about Rwanda

Hello, I’m Oluwalanu, and welcome to Rwanda!

On my journey exploring African ethnic groups, it was easy for me to decide on Rwanda for my first cultural journey out of Nigeria. I had planned to finish Nigerian ethnic groups first and then do ten other major ethnic groups in West Africa before heading into East Africa. However, my mom told me she was going to the e-learning conference in Kigali and I was like "omg, here is my chance to save on hotel costs!". That's how I ended up in Rwanda.

Rwanda is the ninth smallest country in Africa by land mass, with a population of about 13 million people. Rwanda only has one ethnic group so it was relatively easy to explore the group culturally in just a few days. Before we get into the Rwandese culture over the next few weeks, I would love to share a few basic facts about the country and my journey to Rwanda.

Before departing Lagos, I needed to take a COVID test and I believed I would have to pay for a visa on arrival. At 3.30 pm, I departed Lagos for Kigali, the beautiful capital city of Rwanda on Rwandair. The airline’s economy class was very comfortable and the staff was very pleasant. The flight time was about 4 hours. Rwanda is an hour ahead of Nigeria so I arrived at about 10.30 pm.

Upon arriving in Rwanda, I discovered I didn’t need a visa after all. After a fun conversation with the immigration officer telling him about my cultural plans for the next few days, he stamped my passport and I was on my way. However, I still had to pay for a post-travel COVID test at the airport. The test was $60 and was conducted right there at the airport. After the test, I grabbed my suitcase and headed out to find my way to my hotel.

Arriving in a country you’ve never been to alone at night is a little scary, especially when it’s a country where a lot of people don’t speak or understand English that well. When I got out of the airport, I asked if there were any free shuttles to my hotel and luckily, there was one. A man claimed to be from the hotel, took my suitcase and started heading to the car. I was trying to get confirmation from him on who he was because his car wasn’t a branded vehicle of the hotel. Luckily, there was another Nigerian woman who was on my flight and was staying at the same hotel. When I realized she was coming in the same car, I confirmed that she was going to the same hotel. When she replied yes, I said to her, “I just didn’t want them to steal me” and she laughed.

In the car on the way to the hotel, I could see even at night that Kigali was a well-kept city. The next morning, I started my magical cultural journey around Rwanda. Now, let me tell you guys a little about Rwanda.

Rwanda is commonly called the land of a thousand hills because of its forest-rich mountains. Just driving around the country was a treat on its own. The wanding up-hill roads were mostly well-paved for a smooth journey and the view from the car window was surreal. I kept telling myself to be in the moment not just behind my camera making videos and taking pictures.

Along the mountains and lands of Rwanda are vast fields of different crops. The Rwandese export a lot of coffee and tea to major distributors around the world. Bananas are also a big part of their culture, they use bananas in their foods, they use bananas to make a beer called Urwagwa and they even use dried banana peels to make baskets.

One of the most popular symbols of Rwanda is the Agaseke, a basket woven from raffia palm leaves. In the olden days, it was mostly used as storage for different things. The Agaseke was used to store crops after harvest and also used to store clothes in their traditional homes. Today, the basket has become a symbol of peace and harmony and can be found everywhere in the country, even on the currency, the Rwandese Francs.

At several places around Kigali, I saw the Rwandese flag flying. The flag has three horizontal stripes in blue, yellow, and green, with a sun in the right corner. The color blue represents happiness and peace, the color yellow represents economic development, the green represents the hope of prosperity and the sun represents enlightenment.

Rwanda has a rich and heartbreaking history. Rwanda was colonized by the German Empire then later Belgium after World War 1.

A lot of people believe that Rwanda abolished three ethnic groups because of the genocide but the truth is before colonization, those ethnic groups did not exist. The words, Hutu, Tutsi and Twa were creations of the Belge, their colonizers after world war II.

Prior to the scramble for Africa, the Rwandese lived in harmony as one ethnic group. Till today, they speak the same language (Kinyarwanda), wear the same clothes, and have the same customs. The Belge created a division between the Tutsi, Hutu and Twa.

The Belge’s classifications and instigations led to the genocide of 1994. Today, the Rwandese have reverted back to their one homogenous ethnic group to heal and live in peace as Rwandese people.



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a writer and illustrator from Lagos, Nigeria.


In 2015, I started a company called IheartLagos with the aim of showcasing Lagos culture in a unique and fun way.


That journey took me down an exciting path, discovering and learning so much about Nigeria.

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come to you.

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