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Tribes In Rwanda

Tribes In Rwanda : Rwanda is a small landlocked country which is found in the heart of Africa bordered by Uganda in the north, Democratic Republic of Congo in the west, Burundi in the south and Tanzania in the east. Rwanda is referred to as a land with thousands of hills as well as the Switzerland of Africa. Rwanda is also one of the world’s only home of the mountain gorillas which are located in the volcanoes national park thus many tourists come to the country in search of the mountain gorillas.

The original natives of Rwanda are divided into three tribes and these include the Tutsi, Hutu and the twa people. The tribes currently live in the small but developing country at peace and harmony.


The Twa people are believed to be the first people in Rwanda and this is a traditional group that survive in the forested areas. Therefore while on a safari it’s possible to visit a family of these. The Twa people have a close relation with the people of central living in the forested lands as well. The Twa people community is the smallest in numbers of all the three tribes in Rwanda.

The Twa can’t be easily differentiated from other tribes as their beliefs and language spoken is familiar. These people have managed to keep up with their tradition and cultural setting with almost minimal western influence. The estimated number of the Twa people is 3,000 currently living in Rwanda in 600 household. The Twa people were forest dwellers and kept within the forested land but you can find a few living away from the forest and are within the towns of Rwanda in much smaller groups though. The Twa people often work as handymen in pottery and are classified to be laborers and not cattle or land owners in the traditional setting.


The Hutu tribe of Rwanda is known as the second biggest in population and these are found in Rwanda while others are in Burundi. The Hutu are estimated to be around 10 million individuals and are majorly Christians. These share a number of their culture and traditions with the Tutsi as well as the twa people such as they are all Bantu people.

The Hutu were previously the leaders of Rwanda with the leadership position held by the Hutu until the 1994 genocide where the Tutsi wanted to take power and thus leading to the main cause of the Rwanda genocide and thus the Tutsi came out victorious. The common Bantu language spoken by all the three tribes is the Kinyarwanda and Kirundi in Burundi. The dialects are close but you can tell the difference in the pronunciation and some words differ from the other. They are mainly Christians but this doesn’t rule out the traditional beliefs of the abazima who are the spirits of the ancestral people who determine the luck of the living people and there are some people who still pray to the spirits for guidance and protection.

The staple foods of the Hutu people are many and these include beans, corn, millet, sorghum, sweet potatoes and cassava. Milk is as well a treasured food but goat’s meat and goat milk are often associated with poverty or those with a low social status. The Hutu people are farmers but they prefer to have herds of cattle as compared to crop growth.

Tribes In Rwanda
Tribes In Rwanda


The Tutsi people of Rwanda are the current leaders of the country as they took on leadership in 1994 after the Rwanda genocide. The Tutsi people are found in Rwanda, Burundi and also in the north eastern part of the democratic republic of Congo which is known as Zaire. There was an estimated population of 13 million Tutsi people living in the world in 1994.

The Tutsi are majorly cattle herders and those with cattle are considered the wealthy ones in society. In the old settings, the Tutsi people would exchange their cattle for labor from the Hutu or even gain loyalty and favor politically. The Tutsi speak the common language which is Kinyarwanda and some speak French which is commonly used in schools or formal setting. The Tutsi are Christians but the older people still pray to ‘Imaana’ who is associated with providing wealth and fertility to the women and the power of Imaana is equated to the power that the king holds. The Tutsi also believed in Abazima and they are referred to with high regard and those who don’t respect them are said to be up for punishment. The Tutsi often married among themselves the fellow Tutsi’s but with the current change in lifestyle. There are number of tribal intermarriages in the Tutsi’s and other tribes. The most consumed foods by the Tutsi’s are milk, butter and cow meat. The cows are only killed on special occasions for consumption.

The cultural heritage of these tribes of Rwanda can be witnessed and enjoyed more on a safari to one of the cultural heritage sites such as the Iby’iwacu cultural center which is next to the volcanoes national park or Nyanza kings palace among others. There are a number of cultural sites that can be visited while on a Rwandan safari.

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