Miss RWANDA 2017 Contestants fascinated by their visit to the King's Palace Museum
On Saturday February 18th 2017, Miss Rwanda 2017 contestants had an opportunity to visit the King’s Palace Museum located in Nyanza District, Southern Province; a Museum that turns out to be home to many Rwandans who cherish their heritage. It’s a Museum that serves to fill the gap between the present and the past Rwandans lifestyles, leaving great admiration for the ancient Rwandan lifestyle in the hearts and minds of today’s Rwandans. Whilst it focuses on Rwandan monarchical history, it also highlights how early Rwandans cherished their culture and always strived to protect their identity, their king, their land and above all the unity amongst all of them.
Contestants were given an interactive /guided tour through the Museum and right from the entrance, they were amazed by the unique architectural design of the traditional palace, discovering the meaning attached to some of its components. They were also astonished by the ‘Olympic size’ King’s bed decorated solely with traditional materials including imisambi – mat, impuzu – cloth made from the ficus tree skin, uduseke – baskets which were used then as wardrobes, agacuma – calabash that was always principally meant to keep the King’s drink, the traditional bow, arrow and spear right at the entrance of the King’s bedroom portraying the king’s discretion for his security and that of his people/kingdom, etc. They also learnt morals, cultural values and many other unique cultural aspects which they confessed were new and interesting to them.
More to their amazement was the hands-on experience they had on various traditional objects most of which they had heard about but never seen, touched and felt. These included igisabo - milk gourd, inkongoro / ibyansi – milk pots, urusyo - grinding stone, uducuma – calabashes, etc. They were literally glue to each object, confessing that they truly needed to have such an experience as ladies who plan to be ambassadors of their cultural at both the national and international level.
The most fascinating experience was their bond with Inyambo – royal cows and the discovery of the correlating significance of the Kinyarwanda dance style - gutega amaboko with Inyambo’s beautiful horns. Museum staff explained to them in detail how each style has a significant meaning in relation to Inyambo’s various horn styles, since they also have different styles according to their breed. The young ambitious ladies were blown out by the historical significance attached to the dance styles which they learnt from their childhood but did not know the amazing value behind them.
Contestants were also guided through King Mutara III Rudahigwa’s palace, his actual residence until 1959 when he passed away. In the modern palace also, the contestants discovered Rwanda’s geographical changes that occurred since the 15th century, before and after colonial time. They were also opportuned to learn more about King Rudahigwa’s incomparable and significant life as a king and a true patriot. Drawing from the lessons learnt, the young ladies vowed to uphold such incredible values as their forefathers. “I honestly feel so emotional and I am glad we came’’, remarked one of them. “ I am so overwhelmed by such a rich history kept in this museum and I am compelled to revise my ambitions for striving to uphold my cultural values’’, she added. Most of the contestants confessed that they would be deprived of such an opportunity to learn about their typical identity if they hadn’t been brought to the Museum, emphasizing that the knowledge acquired will empower them during their final selection interview scheduled for February 25th 2017.
They commended Rwanda Museums’ management for proper preservation and presentation of a heritage to die for, a country to covet, a nation to sacrifice for, and an identity to guard so jealously. They added that this visit instilled in them a desire to strive for self-reliance to uphold Rwandan forefather’s legacy, both as ‘Miss Rwanda’ and as individuals.
Rwanda Museums prides itself in having always contributed to the empowerment of not only the current Miss Rwanda contestants but also their predecessors; by instilling in them cultural cognition as well as providing uniquely designed traditional crowns for Miss Rwanda and her runner – ups which have been used since 2015. This has earned these young ladies such a great compliment amongst their counterparts from around the world due to the authentic uniqueness of not only their external look (crowns) but also the cultural value they carry hence boosting their confidence whilst representing the country of a thousand hills and a million smiles!