Is it Un-Rwandan To Eat Snacks Publicly?

Passengers queue at a downtown bus terminal as they munch popcorns. In Rwandan culture eating in public was considered wrong

It is Tuesday evening in Kigali city Center; everybody is busy finding their way home after a long day’s work.

A walk to the city’s downtown bus terminal; people are queued waiting for their turn to board buses connecting to various city destinations.

Adjacent to the bus terminal, there is a huge building and at its veranda, George Maniraguha 27 is in queue waiting to be served hot popcorns. In queue are about 25 people including women and men.

“I come here at least three times a week after work and buy popcorn to munch on my way home, because they are anti- stress,” said Maniraguha who works in a jewelry store in the city center.

“Popcorns are sweet and healthy; I cannot forget buying them before boarding a bus to Kanombe I eat them all the way without caring much about who sees me ,” Albert Ntore 30,  who is also waiting on the line told KT Press.

According to health specialists, popcorns have health benefits mainly derived from their content in fiber, antioxidants, Vitamin B complex, manganese and magnesium among other minerals.

This gives popcorns the ability to regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels, prevent cancer, prevent premature ageing and help in losing weight.

Popcorns and other snacks are known in the west to be eaten during movie theatres and when people are engaged in a soft conversation in their homes.

With the fast moving world, people have developed a habit of eating from anywhere at any time depending on their schedules.

The Conservative Rwandan View

In the conservative Rwandan culture, you could find only little children eating on the way but these days it is not surprising to see a woman in her 40s eating in the bus or men munching on snacks.

“ It doesn’t bother me eating on the way especially on a long journey like Musanze- Huye, I make sure I have something that will help me not to think too much like g-nuts or popcorns,” said Daniel Musafiri, a private auditor.

For Frank Rutayisire, a trans-border trader “I can’t get time to sit and have a normal lunch. So I pack the food and eat it while doing other things and I feel free.”

However, according to Rwanda Academy of Language and Culture (RALC), street or public eating is against Rwandan culture and people should not adopt it.

“We are noticing that nowadays women and men are eating publicly but it is disrespectful and whatever reasons that pushes them to do so, they should not ignore Rwandan values,” Dr. James Vuningoma, Executive Secretary of RALC told KT Press.

This however, seems to pose a challenge to organisations like RALC looking at maintaining the status quo  since a big number of Rwandans are getting comfortable with the trend of street eating by the day.

The most common food items eaten in public in Rwanda include; popcorn, g-nuts, maize grains, yoghourt, ice-cream, and coffee among others.




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