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Exploring your own nation: Uncover the hidden treasures of domestic travel

It is often said, “Rwanda is a small country,” yet familiarity often remains limited to our own immediate surroundings. It’s disheartening to realize that out of the 30 districts, we might only know 1 or 2. Cultural diversity isn’t confined to the global sphere; it thrives within our borders as well.

Travel need not always span across countries; captivating journeys can unfold within the confines of a single nation. Venturing through diverse regions, cities, terrains, and cultures within our own homeland can offer experiences as enriching and varied as international travel.

Indeed, within our nation lie numerous hidden gems: localities, cuisines, dances, traditions, and attractions that might elude our awareness until we set out to explore.

During a working visit to Nkombo Island, I stumbled upon children conversing in an unfamiliar language. I inquired about it, only to discover the existence of “Amashi,” a language spoken in Rusizi District.

Occasionally, people express surprise when certain places are identified as part of Rwanda. This isn’t to assert that Rwanda alone boasts picturesque spots; rather, it aims to underscore the significance of recognizing and embracing our own country’s values.

Undoubtedly, financial constraints often hinder us from traveling, and many young adults grapple with economic challenges. Paradoxically, they aspire to journey abroad in pursuit of enjoyment. Yet, domestic travel can be more affordable and accessible, catering to a broader demographic.

Moreover, it facilitates bolstering local economies, fostering internal tourism, and unearthing hidden treasures previously unbeknownst to us.

While supermarket snacks are familiar to us, how many among us are acquainted with “Imbada”? This delicacy is exclusive to Kayonza District.

Amidst our daily routines, monotony can creep in. Some counteract this by watching movies, frequenting the same eateries, or sticking to familiar neighborhoods. However, planning weekend getaways outside Kigali or one’s local vicinity can propel us out of our comfort zones, enabling connections with new individuals, embracing challenges, and immersing ourselves in new cultures—a journey of personal growth and maturation.

For many, cycling is viewed solely as a sport. Yet, in the Eastern Province, it serves as a means of everyday transportation. Witnessing women cycling with infants on their backs, such as in Bugesera District, is awe-inspiring.

Such experiences foster understanding and compassion rather than judgment.

Domestic travel holds the key to unraveling a deeper understanding of a nation’s history, heritage, and significant landmarks. Many Rwandan youths remain unfamiliar with their nation’s history, spanning from the Kingdom era to the Republic. A prime instance is “Murukari” in Nyanza District, a site frequented more by foreign visitors than by locals. Few young people are acquainted with “Ikirenge” cya Ruganzu in Rulindo District—a testament to the untapped potential of exploring our history through travel.

Venturing into different corners of our nation empowers young minds to assume leadership, make choices, and navigate uncharted territories, fostering a sense of accomplishment. For instance, observing banana harvesting and the creation of “Umutobe” might inspire innovative ideas for producing juices.

The merits of domestic travel are manifold. It invigorates tourism-related sectors, infusing revenue and creating employment prospects. It enables the younger generation to delve into and celebrate their cultural roots, history, and natural splendor. Furthermore, it cultivates unity and comprehension among citizens hailing from diverse regions, nurturing a shared national identity.

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