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Milk & Beer in Rwandese Culture

Hey! I’m Oluwalanu and today, we’re talking about milk and beer in Rwandese culture. It is a bit of a continuation of yesterday’s topic of the King’s Palace and traditional architecture in Rwanda.

As part of the tour of the King’s Palace Museum in Nyanza, my guide took me behind the palace to see two other homes of people who traditionally always lived with the Mwami (king). The first was the milk woman’s home.

In ancient times in Rwanda, a virgin woman lived in a house behind the palace and specially cared for the milk for the palace. At the entrance of her home, the guide showed me several containers used for storing, drinking, and shaking milk. The small container with a funnel at the top was for babies to drink out of. The medium-sized containers were for adults and the large containers were for storing the milk. The cones on the floor are lids for these containers.

At first, I thought the calabash was just another container for storage then my guide explained that it was for shaking the milk. Then she demonstrated how they would shake it and asked me to try it. She also asked me to sing while I shook it but I couldn’t think of any song that was fitting. I would have started singing Sungba 😂

Before we moved on to the next house, the guide also explained that the virgin woman would live in the home, caring for the palace milk until the Mwami (king) died.

Afterward, we moved on to the next home. The second home was for a man in charge of the Mwami’s beer. The man would go to all the different villages to taste the beer made and choose the best ones for the Mwami. Like the Milk Woman, the man also had to be a virgin and live there until the death of the Mwami.

Traditionally, the Rwandese make three types of beer. Each of these clay pots is for a specific type of beer. The first is for a beer made from honey, the second is made from sorghum, and the third is from bananas. Throughout my time in Rwanda, I noticed that bananas are an important part of their culture. They eat it, of course, they use it to make beer and they use banana leaves to weave baskets.

Banana beer is made all over East Africa. In Rwanda, it is called Urwagwa. After showing me the clay pots for storing the beers, my guide showed me a funnel used to pour beer into a calabash for drinking. She also showed me a traditional straw used for drinking. I was really amazed by that because it was my first time seeing a traditional straw.

At the last part of the architecture tour, we went into the home of the Beer Man. There, the guide showed me the sorghum plant used to make the beer. Afterward, we went outside and I tried to learn the technique used to grind the grain. The tray is used for sieving the grains after grinding. This sieving technique is used in many parts of Africa. I tried to do it but I kept mixing the grains instead of separating them 😩

I hope you enjoyed today’s post!

See you again soon,




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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