The culture of Rwanda is varied and unique. As it is the norm in Africa for a country to be diversified in culture and heritage brought about by various ethnic languages and cultural practices, Rwanda is populated by the Banyarwanda people who share a single language and cultural heritage which has been a symbol of unity since precolonial times.
Music and dance are an integral part of Rwandan ceremonies, festivals, social gatherings, and storytelling sessions. The most famous traditional dance is Intore, a highly choreographed routine consisting of three components – the ballet, performed by women; the dance of heroes, performed by men, and the drums. Traditionally, music is transmitted orally with styles varying between the social groups. Drums are of great importance, the royal drummers having enjoyed high status within the court of the mwami. Drummers usually play together in groups of seven or nine.
Rwandan cuisine is based on local staple foods produced by the traditional subsistence agriculture. Historically, it has varied among the country’s different ethnic groups. Rwandan staples include bananas, plantains (known as ibitoke), pulses, sweet potatoes, beans, and cassava (manioc). Many Rwandans do not eat meat more than a few times a month. For those who live near lakes and have access to fish, tilapia is popular.
Traditional arts and crafts are produced throughout the country, although most originated as functional items rather than purely for decoration. Woven baskets and bowls are especially common. The south east of Rwanda is noted for imigongo, a unique cow dung art, whose history dates back to when the region was part of the independent Gisaka kingdom. The dung is mixed with natural soils of various colours and painted into patterned ridges, forming geometric shapes.Other crafts include pottery and wood carving.