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Traditional Rwandese Dances & Drums

Hey there! I’m Oluwalanu and welcome to my blog on African culture.

Today we’re in Rwanda, learning about some traditional dances! One of my favorite things to do at every location I travel to is learning about music and dance. Music and dance have been at the heart of African cultures for centuries and the Rwandese are no different.

On this day in Rwanda, I woke up bright and early in Kigali to head two hours out of the city to Muhanga. A few days prior, I found the dance class on Viator by Trip Advisor. I love that tourism is well established in East Africa so it is very easy to find cultural experiences. The people see the value in their culture and allow tourists to experience it at a price. Sometimes, a hefty price 😟

On the drive to Muhanga, I enjoyed taking nice scenery pictures of the countryside. When I arrived at the location, the dancers were already dressed and waiting for me. So I got a quick orientation then the ladies took me to get dressed in my mushanana. They dressed me, put some headbands on my head and ankle bells called amayugi on my feet. During the dance, I noticed that the Rwandese dances involve a lot of stomping of the feet. Which was one of the few parts of the dance, I could do easily. The shaking of the amayugi adds to the music for the dance.

Starting off, the dancers said they would show me a sample of the dances we would be doing. The drummers started drumming and the dancers clapped along to the rhythm of the drums. Soon, the male dancers began their dance. The part of the male dance that is very popular is called umuhamirizo, this is the part where the dancers twist their necks repeatedly. I was amazed at how easily they could do that but of course, practice always makes perfect.

The blue and white beads on the chest of the male dancers are called ibihagatiro. It is the same jewelry that was on the head of the female inyambo cow at the King’s palace museum. While the raffia hair worn by the male dancers is called imigara. Rwandese dancers also wear it when they do their popular intore dance.

Afterward the male dancers, the female dancers started their own dance. The part of the dance where the women twist their arms is called umushagiriro. After about ten minutes of watching them, I tried to join the fun. I quickly discovered it wasn’t as easy as it looked. I’m not the greatest dancer but you can watch me and the dancers here on my Instagram reel -

I never take these dances so seriously. It’s an experience and I’m always there to have fun. After the dancing, the drummers wanted to teach me how to play a few traditional beats on the drums. The drums are called ingoma. This part was fairly easy for me and I enjoyed rocking off with them!

Hope you guys learned something new and 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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