rwanda map

Rwanda- "Land of a Thousand Hills"

The most common foods eaten in Rwanda are beans, bananas, sweet potatoes and sorghum (a type of grain). Those who can afford it also will eat beef, goat and chicken. Popular drinks are banana beer and sorghum beer. Curlded milk is a traditional drink in Rwanda.


Traditional Rwanda and Food  

Rwanda is rich in traditions associated with food and drink. Traditionally, Rwandans would only eat in public for ceremonial reasons such as weddings or festivals. Hence, there were not many, if any, restaurants or public eating establishments. In recent years the taboo associated with public eating has diminished ans some restaurants have sprung up in major cities. In addition, traditional Rwandan clans would not eat totemic animals associated with their clans. A totemic animal was a specific animal that a clan felt a kinship with. Even though the clan system has diminished many Rwandans today will still not eat animals associated with their historical clan.


Bananas are in abundance in Rwanda and will be eaten as is or used to make the popular banana beer.


Sorghum, a type of grain, is used to make sorghum beer also known as Umquoboti.


Gourds from the calabash tree are carved out and used as cups to serve drinks.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Food Customs and Ceremonial Occasions

Important occasions always involve food and alcohol. Sorghum beer and banana beer are popular alcoholic beverages. During weddings and funerals people are usually served a piece of meat and a roasted potato. A pot of sorghum beer is usually placed in the middle of the room with a number of straws for people to drink out of. Sorghum beer, also known as Umquoboti. Many times calabashes ( round gourds of the calabash tree) are used as cups to serve banana beer and are passed through the crowd as well.

Also customary in traditional Rwandan society is to serve people food and drink when they visit a home. Refusing the food or drink of a host is considered a grave insult. Hosts will often take a taste and sip first to show their guests that the food is safe for consumption and has not been poisoned. In addition, food is offered as a gift upon leaving one's home.

Holidays and Celebrations    

The most important holiday in Rwanda is New Year's day and families get together to eat, exchange gifts and participate in music and dance traditions

Dance tradition is rich and widely taught in schools.     

Also, many ceremonies commemorate the genocide of 1994.  


dancers                                             Intore Dancers                                                                                     

Dances such as the Intore and others are important parts of weddings and public ceremonies. 



Traditional performances still occur in the villages of Rwanda. The most popular of Rwanda's  traditional musical and dance styles is the Intore Dance Troupe. Founded several centuries ago, the Intore or 'The Chosen Ones' once performed only for the Royal Court, but today they can be seen at the National Museum in Butare.