Learning My African Heritage: Rwanda

Mountain gorillas at Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park. Up to 8 people at a time can see them in their natural habitat! {Image Source}

I'm learning about my Rwandan heritage so you all are going to learn with me! If you follow me on Youtube or Instagram, then you saw that not too long ago, I was able to trace some of my lineage on my mother's paternal side all the way back to (the Tutsi tribe of) Rwanda! I was so excited and immediately started the journey to learning about the country and culture. I can't tell you, as a Black American that's a byproduct of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, how much more pride I have now that I have a more intimate connection to Africa. Maybe I should write a post about it, because not that it would save the world, but learning just a fraction of where some of my ancestors came from gave me something back that I feel was taken away from them.
Rwandan flag (since 2001)

Any who, onto the topic at hand, sharing what I'm learning about my heritage.... One thing I find very cool is that many Rwandans are multilingual. French and English are the country's official languages but the principle language, that practically every Rwandan speaks, is Kinyarwanda. Many easily speak three languages. I'm determined now to learn French (I took Spanish in my formative years) and eventually Kinyarwanda. 
Intore dancers {Image Source}

Intore dancers {Image Source}
Intore dancers {Image Source}

I like the colors of the flag (shown earlier in the post) and I've fallen in love with the traditional Intore dance. Oh my goodness, it's BEAUTIFUL! Just from watching the dance, my spirit starts to beam and glow with excitement. See the video below for a clip of a performance, it's 16 minutes long but worth it. I want to learn!


Nicole Musoni {Image Source}

I also am enjoying the music of a Rwandan artist named Nicole Musoni. She has a pretty voice, has fab style and reps for Rwanda so hard. It's funny because I found her through a natural hair Instagram account before I learned of my Rwandese lineage, who knew! I want to meet her. Did you hear that universe?

If I have any Rwandan readers or followers, say hi!

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Darlouche said…
Hi Milan,

I think that you may need to verify the information that was provided to your father in regards to its lineage. They are traditionally social classes. There is not such a thing as a tutsi lineage. Ruanda and Urundi, as they used to be called, are kingdoms that were "discovered" in the late 19th century by Europeans and its people were not part of the slave trade.

I think it is important to understand that the history around the ethnicity in Rwanda and Burundi is very complex and is not one, of lineage. I am from this country and just wanted to provide you with the correct information.
Milan said…
Hi. Thanks for stopping by and sharing more information. I'd love to talk to you some more and learn more about Rwanda. On my mother's paternal side we were able to trace all the way back to a slave woman who was listed as a "Watusi". We traced all this information back in the 80's from the US National Archives before the internet was available to the general public.

It wasn't until earlier this year I became curious as to where a watusi person was from. Upon me doing further research of where in Africa a watusi person would be from in present day Africa, I kept being led to "Tutsi" and Rwanda/Burundi.

I understand that the countries in Africa were mostly mapped out and created by Europeans so I am aware that my watusi great grandmother of many generations may have been from what is present day Rwanda.

I am in the process of learning about the history, including ethnicities in Rwanda (and Burundi). I know it is said that slaves were primarily taken from western Africa but do we really know that slaves were not taken from other parts of the continent as well? Maybe if only in smaller quantities. It's very commonly known, in those times especially, Europeans weren't the best record keepers. They definitely didn't care to document the lives of slaves in great detail. I'm thankful my family was able to find what we did given that reality. I think Europeans were grabbing people from all over, detaining them in western Africa and classifying everyone as "west" African. I could be wrong but history books are not law to me. History has been skewed many times to reflect what the author wants others to see, as opposed to what it is. It's too easy to "forget" or "omit" things when rewritting history from your perspective.

Thank you again for sharing your comments. I want to talk to you and learn more about these ethnic complexities. Though I am not directly Rwandese, I am still claiming it as a part of my ancestry. Upon further research, I'm sure there is a lot of West African nations in my ancestry. I am American through and through but I am of African descent and very proud of that and want to explore that immensely and learn more about that.