Rwanda: Rwf2.8 Billion Project Set to Boost Nyanza Cultural Tourism Ambitions

18 February 2021

Nyanza District and Rwanda Cultural Heritage Academy (RCHA) are keen on mobilising resources to set up a Rwf2.8 billion facility, aimed at bolstering tourism receipts.

Expropriation to pave the way for the construction of Nyanza Cultural Village had started before the Covid-19 outbreak, but the pandemic has since slowed the process.

The project, which seeks to transform Rwanda's cultural hub, will be set up on nine hectares close to Nyamagana pond.

The pond is said to have been launched by King Mutara III Rudahigwa in collaboration with a Belgian agronomist known as Dubois in the days that followed the infamous 1943/44 Ruzagayura famine. It was part of the irrigation scheme meant to avoid similar famine outbreaks in future. It was also utilised for fish farming.

"The cultural village will have many components including infrastructure that demonstrates the Rwandan culture," Erasme Ntazinda, the Nyanza District Mayor, told The New Times on Wednesday.

The project plan comprises of infrastructure that reflects the diversity of the Rwandan culture including theatres, restaurants and lodges.

"We'll also set up a botanical garden with various herbal plants that were used to different diseases in ancient Rwanda," Ntazinda said.

Many tourists are interested in knowing Rwanda's cultural heritage, he said.

He added that a booming tourism industry would support other businesses in the district.

"We are still mobilising the resources for constructing the cultural hub... the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted progress," he said.

Expansion of King's Palace

The King's Palace (Urukari) will also be expanded, the Mayor disclosed.

With entertainment infrastructure, he said, the district will be able to get a big area to host festivals usually held at the King's Palace (Urukari) in Nyanza

The King's Mutara III Rudahigwa's Palace offers a detailed look into the Rwandan monarchical system and its abolition in the early 1960s due to colonialism.

Under the reign of king Musinga V Yuhi in 1889, Nyanza became the royal capital of the country.

The palace is currently home to traditional items, long-horned royal cows "Inyambo" that form an integral part of the Rwanda Culture.

The cows were initially the King's symbol of prestige.

Visitors are always fascinated by the procession of these royal cows which are famous for their impressive long horns, height, gentle nature and the traditional poems.

Along the traditional palace is the 1931 modern palace where King Mutara Rudagigwa resided until he passed away in 1959 and it now serves to display Rwanda history from the 15th Century.

On the neighbouring hill of Mwima, one can also visit the mausoleum where King Mutara III, his wife Queen Rosalie Gicanda and King Kigeli IV Ndahindurwa were laid to rest.

Cultural tourism sites

Mayor Ntazinda said that the cultural village will attract tourists and thus increase tourism revenues.

Nyanza district receives over 70,000 tourists/visitors annually although the pandemic has affected the traffic.

In 2017, the government announced plans to revamp countrywide museum structures and service packages to be able to double the revenue of Rwf200m from cultural tourism per annum.

Upgrading National Liberation Museum Park Mulindi museum alone could generate Rwf150m annually. Commonly referred to as U Mulindi w'Intwari, the museum is located in Nyakabungo village of Mulindi cell, Kaniga sector in Gicumbi District.

It was for the largest part of the four-year liberation struggle (1990-94) the headquarters of the war that not only liberated the country, but also stopped the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Other museums include Ethnographic Museum located in Huye District, Museum of Environment gallery in Karongi district, Rwanda Art Museum in Kigali city, Kandt House Museum as well as Campaign Against Genocide Museum at parliament.

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