Utubindi twa Rubona

Rwanda ranks among the top visited countries in Africa that continues to attract throngs of tourists and travelers all over the world visiting the land mainly for gorillas and primates adventures as well as the cultural experiences in Rwanda. Despite the different tourist attraction and activities, Rwanda has to just a lot to offer more than the primates and cultural experiences, and this is the ‘Utubindi twa Rubona’ alias the 12 pot shaped pits of Rubona.

On your journey through the Eastern part of Rwanda one may believe that there are no historical sites but the beautiful National Parks and rivers. It’s until your four kilometers off the main Kayonza-Nyagatare road that you learn of the famous “Utubindi Twa Rubona”. Utubindi twa Rubona is among one of the numerous historical sites within the country which, if not well preserved, and today risks disappearing yet it holds very rich history.

As the visit begins we are told a very touching story of leadership. We later find out that come the end of the 16th century, an expansion conflict erupted between Rwanda and Bunyabungo during which the monarch Ndahiro II Cyamatare fought to the bitter end. After his death, the country passed through difficulties under Banyabungo’s rule and longed for a monarch of his style. At that time, the Prince Ruganzu – Ndahiro’s son – was at Karagwe in Tanzania where he hunkered down since his very young age (in Rwandan tradition kubunda).

Utubindi twa Rubona

With the support of his father’s loyal servants including Kavuna – the son of Mushimiye – Ruganzu decided to counter-attack and stopped the Banyabungo’s domination despite his young age. Under his reign on wards, the country became prosperous again after 11 years of pain.
On his journey to Rwanda, Ruganzu and his men sojourned at Rubona in Buganza region. When they arrived there, they had no drink and were thirsty. Therefore, Ruganzu took his magic spear, poked it into the ground and drilled, one after another, 12 pot-shaped pits which were instantly full of water.  Despite being of different sizes, the form of those holes is the same: it is a pot-shaped form, thus the name, Utubindi (small pots in Kinyarwanda name) and if directly translated into English the name would be “The Pots of Rubona.”

Near those holes on the same rock are two features believed to be Ruganzu’s footprints and marks of bows and arrows. Today these structures are one of the shrines to the dead Ruganzu and remind Rwandans that in the past they have been heroes who liked the country and always saved it from turmoil.

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