It was in 1892 that the Austrian explorer Dr. Oscar Baumann came to Rwanda for a few days in search of the Nile. The story tells that Dr. Oscar Baumann needed the approval of the Rwanda Mwami (King) to leave the territory again which he refused to ask and that he escaped only after using his gunfire.
Two years later in September 1894, an official German delegation conducted by the Army Officer and Count Von Götzen, met the Tutsi Mwami (King) Kigeri IV Rwabugiri. The historical meeting was carefully prepared and arranged through another Kingdom.
The Germans found one of the best organized pre-colonial kingdoms of East-Africa. The three ethnic groups (Bahutus, Batutsis and Batwas) lived together, spoke the same language (Kinyarwanda) and had the same culture. Rwanda was once together with Burundi and Tanzania part of the German East African colony and became a Belgian protectorate after the first world war.
On your way to Butare you can visit in Nyanza (actually Nyabisindu) the former Mwami's palace (King's palace) and the seat of the feudal monarchy. The palace has been reconstructed to its 19th century state and shows a traditional dome that can be compared with the Kabaka's palace of Buganda (Kampala, Uganda).
The "Intore", once the elite of the traditional Rwanda army, were not only trained as military but also in high jump and dance. They were known for there remarkable technique allowing them to jump over 2m40. The Intore became worldwide famous as dancers in 1958 when the World Expo was held in Brussels. Today Intore dancers are part of the rich Rwanda folklore.
Butare is the intellectual centre of the country with its National Museum, several academic (univeristy) and reseach institutions. There is also an aroboratum.
The National Museum in Butare was donated in 1989 by the Belgium government and gave back a part of the ethnographic collection acquired during the colonial period. The design and concept of the museum was realized in co-operation with the Royal Museum for Central Africa of Tervuren, Belgium.
The modern building has different sections and displays a wide collection of monochrome pictures, traditional artefacts and objects, tools and different craft products. Ethnographic objects are grouped together according to theme giving excellent information on the daily life. Traditional ceramics and basketry are still manufactured and belong to the finest handicrafts of the region. The National Museum remained surprisingly untouched during the civil war in 1994.
- Highlights: Visit of Nyanza, Museum of Butare, the craft shops in Butare.
- Distance: Butare is 135 km from Kigali. A visit can be organized as a day excursion out of Kigali. You can also visit Butare on your way to Nyungwe NP. Nyabisindu (Nyanza) is situated 45 km from Butare and 90 km from Kigali.
- Weather: Sunny and warm.