Wednesday, 7 September 2016

RWANDA: Visit The Red Rocks Art Centre

Red Rocks Camping site, a getaway tucked deep in Nyakinama sector, just a few metres from Musanze Polytechnic in Musanze district in Northern province.

Red Rocks is not new despite the modest number that visit the site. But from August 26 to September 2, the site has lined up a number of activities under the Cultural Tourism Week.

The activities, which kicked off earlier last week in preparation, are a must-experience adventure of the ancient Rwandan lifestyle, tradition and customs.

“We have been developing this concept since 2014, as a means of bringing together the community and guests who have always honoured the Kwita Izina annual ceremony. We want people to go beyond just the gorillas,” said Greg Bakunzi, founder of Red Rocks, and one of the event’s organisers.

In a tour, which lasts over two and a half hours, a lot is on offer.

Experience Rwanda’s heritage. From manufacturing, processing and farming, one gets to experience hands-on activities. First off is the pottery section, where two women are molding. This is one of the country’s traditions practised by the Batwa.

From gourds and plates to cooking pots, smoking pipes and sculptures the women show the process of making art out of clay, which ends up in the kiln.

The cooking place is another remarkable spot, where food like cassava, sorghum or millet bread (umutsima or rukacarara), boiled or grilled cassava and sweet potatoes are prepared. On the cooking stones, a fire is made, then cooking pots are placed. One is taken through the process of a cooking a Rwandan meal.
Umutobe (banana juice) could be taken by people of all ages from infants to the elderly. Urwangwa (Banana beer or wine) was made by adding sorghum flour. The inturire or nkangaza was another form of complex beer made from a mixture of honey.

Saving as a culture is shown by the traditional way of storage among Rwandans. The granaries store the excess harvest of sorghum, maize, beans and other food crops.

Other activities are youth training through imihigo, hunting and such to shape the true intwari (heroes), basket weaving, milking and cattle rearing tradition, ukwivuga (self appraisals), poetry, traditional dressings and dance.

Red Rocks also has the Stone Club and African Restaurant, which serve a blend of traditional drinks from honey, banana beer and juice to modern drinks too, while an assortment of music is played as the evening draws in.

Ancient Rwandan outfits will be on display by Rwanda Cultural Fashion week, an initiative specialising in showcasing of exquisite Rwandan outfits and hairstyles going as far back as the 1920s.

Special about this year’s Cultural Tourism Week is that the whole sail into the hand-on experience is entirely free of charge according to organisers. We can barely estimate the money spent on it, but we would like the public to first have a feel of this experience so that it can be weighed.