Buhanga forest: Rwanda’s birthplace of kings

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Buhanga forest: Rwanda’s birthplace of kings

Rwanda like many countries in Africa did not escape the servitude of colonizers. However they are not responsible for its naming.

This one thousand-year old country created by Gihanga Ngoma Ijana has one culture shared by all its habitants known as Rwandans.

The legend of king Gihanga Ngoma Ijana can be found in the writings of great authors such as the late Bishop Alexis Kagame and in poems like ‘Umunsi Iméza Imiryango Yose’ (The Day She Birthed/Created the Whole Nation) composed by Ruganzu Ndori’s queen mother Nyirarumaga, in the 15th Century AD.


The writer in Buhanga forest. All photos courtesy

The same legend is found in Buhanga Forest where Gihanga Ngoma Ijana started his creation. It’s located in Bikara cell, Nkotsi sector, Musanze district. In these two areas, we find undeniable facts that prove the existence of this great king.

Located in Bikara cell, Nkotsi sector, Musanze district, Northen Province 200m from the main road that connects Nyakinama Military Academy and Musanze town.

A glimpse from afar, one would think Buhanga is a small lost forest between the farms which surround its 5 hectares surface. At the entrance of Buhanga, one easily notices the intertwined roots of the big ficus trees and the Dracaena draco trees growing between lava rocks.

In this forest of incredible species, there is a deep cave with no end which is home to lots of birds, rodents, snakes. It may get scary especially when exploring alone.

Buhanga is the birthplace of our nation. King Gihanga lived in Buhanga where he married Nyamususa, the only child from Jeni of Rurenge who was the king of the Abasinga clan. Gihanga ruled over the nation with Nyamususa, and that is said to be the beginning of power-sharing in Rwanda between the king and his queen.Gender equality looks out to have found its source in Ancient Rwanda.

The cave was used as a sacred place where ancestors Kings, for the following years, worshiped the spirit of Gihanga. There is a legendary and popular Giant ficus, central to the Rwandan history (Umuvumu Ruvumurara)


There are caves in the forest.

An amazing ecosystem

While walking through the old paths in the lava rocks valley, you will be swept off by the Dracaena dracos, Bamboo trees and Eritryna trees

It wouldn’t be pretentious to say that Buhanga is the most diverse ecosystem in Rwanda, if one considers the concentration of species (up to forty) per square meter.

My encounter with Buhanga

Scary and magical at the same time, I got away from the crowd, on my own to better feel the breeze and humid effect of what was an early sunny day in a green paradise. With rocky pavement on the way up and making an ease of access to most of the place, Buhanga made me dream and yearn for more at the same time.

I did not look further down the cave, blame my scared imagination, but there was a bit more to get inspired about. A different place, a different class, altogether.

Right at the center of where the now-thousands-hills originated, my mind skipped the skies to imagine Intore dancers arising in the middle of nowhere to entertain the few tourists that were there.

Could it be the right place to dream; dream of diversifying the tourism destinations, for affordable prices, both for locals and foreigners. Yet another place to work on, perhaps put on the bucket list for that getaway we all yearn for, all in the name of nature and Gihanga, its original creator, It’s a MUST visit site.

The writer is a Tourism blogger