Huye, Butare to the Rwandans
The city is now officially known as Huye, yet to the Rwandans, it is still Butare. Its importance dates back to the time of Queen Astrid when it was one of the most important cities in Rwanda. After her death the city was even re-named Astrida and until today it is considered as an intellectual city.
You will find the country’s oldest university, the bilingual National University, which was founded in 1963. It’s no ordinary university; traditional medicine is studied here mixed with modern science for an interesting twist. In addition to medicine, there are other important studies focused on here including food and agriculture.
Yea yea, all that’s nice, but of course, you don’t want to go to a university on your trip! So what do you do in Butare? Well, there’s plenty! Try the former National Museum, now the Ethnographic Museum, which holds information about the history of Rwanda and neighbouring Burundi. Or nearby you will find the King’s Palace museum, it is filled with large-horned and beaded sacred cows – definitely an interesting stop!
Butare is known as the city where Jean-Baptiste Habyalimana, the Tutsi governor, was able to resist the beginning of the genocide against all forces. To tell this darker side there is the, Murambi Genocide Memorial Center. It is located inside a former school, the site where the Tutsis were lured to and killed by the Hutu militia during this genocide. This insightful visit is only for the strong stomached – you can still see the mummified bodies!
The Cathedral of Butare, built in 1930 is the largest in the country, it is also referred to as ‘Our Lady of Wisdom Cathedral’. As you approach this looming building you may be lucky enough to hear the loudest and proudest of gospel singing. You will surely be up on your feet too! After all the sights, time to chill. Perhaps an ice cream from Inzozi Nziza or a nice cup of coffee at the CXC Coffee shop? The best way to wind-down after a day of intellect!