‘A legend rock that gave birth’: Geology or Mythology?
The Rock in the photo is known by locals as ‘IKIBUYE CYA SHARI’ that is linked to some powers and believed to have borne a ‘child’ (another small rock).
Belief and science have always gone opposite directions when it comes to questions that need satisfactory answers. Society like Rwanda and most others in Africa had certain traditions whose followers were convinced ‘it was the truth’. Scientific inventions and formal education that lead to reasoning and hard facts in today’s social understanding have contradicted such blind nature altogether and the perception is continually changing.
This does not put anything at less importance. You cannot take anything for granted unless there are several researches conducted to prove whatever scientific or mythology in any society. Those who have lived in Rwandan culture know there are things which were told to children as a taboo for some reasons.
I remember back in my childhood, we used firewood for cooking. Children were told that there was a very small fierce animal that lived in the ashes, fire and generally resided in the kitchen. This animal would attack and even eat children if they played near fire or ashes. The said ferocious animal was called “AKAVUMBURAMASHYIGA” in Kinyarwanda. No child had ever seen it, but we all believed that it truly existed. It was a myth but the science behind it was a solution to keep children away from fire and hot ashes that could burn them.
There is big reason therefore why Residents of Nyaruguru District have beseeched their Leaders to take note of the mysterious rock in Ngera Sector, Southern Rwanda, which some local residents’ accounts suggest it might be hundreds of years old – from the time when Rwanda was still a kingdom.
People here call the rock “IKIBUYE CYA SHARI” as if to suggest, literally, that someone called “Shari” was the owner of the rock.
The rock, about six meters high, stemmed from what appears to be a “myth”.
“All I know from my grandparents is that there was a hole in this very place where the rock stands now. And then many years ago, our King Ruganzu [Ndoli] passed by and saw a snake in there [in the hole]. He then picked up a stone and threw it at the snake in its hole. Sometime later, the rock started developing in the very hole”, recounts Joseph Nzabamwita, a 64-year-old father of six from Gishamvu sector in neighbouring Huye district.
And there’s another small rock, about three meters high, next to “Ikibuye cya Shari”, the main, big rock. People like Nzabamwita call the small rock “a child of Ikibuye cya Shari”.
“I remember the time when there was only this big rock”, said Nzabamwita, pointing to “Ikibuye cya Shari”. “And then the [big] rock kept growing up until it gave birth to the small rock”, he added.
Scientists, geologists to be precise in this case, would surely explain the phenomenon through another lens. For instance, to put it broadly, the formation of rocks through a metamorphosis as erosion keeps taking some amount of soil away over the years.
But many are those residents in Ngera sector of Nyaruguru district and those from Gishamvu sector in neighbouring Huye district that will still resort to mythology to explain the origin of “Ikibuye cya Shari”.
IKIBUYE CYA SHARI with her child (left). Locals do not know yet whether the child is ‘male or female’
“Tourists come to see the rock” but should it be for free?
Located in a small forest on a hill overlooking an international paved road linking Rwanda to her neighbour in the South, Burundi, the rock is a tourists’ attraction, according to residents’ accounts.
“Tourists love the beauty of our country. And if there was a fence around the rock and a guard to keep it, then this rock would be bringing some tourists’ revenues in the coffers of our country”, said Nzabamwita.
“Tourists come and take photos [of the rock] freely and they go back and sell the photos worth some dollars. Yet these dollars should be feeding Rwandans”, he complained.
“Tourists come and watch the rock for free”, said 45 year-old Callixte Kanimba, another resident of Ngera sector, his eyes blinking as if to show some level of anger.
“Our leaders should take care of the rock and make some money out of it”, he suggested.
And there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel.
According to Gad Mukiza, an officer in charge of cooperatives and investments in Nyaruguru district, the district has already put in place a five-year tourism action plan. The plan will see “Ikibuye cya Shari”, the other rock, fenced and equipped with bungalows to allow tourists have some drink while on visit, plus the selling of some craft objects there. In return, the district will get some revenues from the tourists.
It’s a large plan, Mukiza said, which will also include the renovation of “Munanira rock”, situated between Rusenge and Ngera sectors, and Kibeho pilgrimage site which, as of 2011, attracted close to 100,000 tourists according to official statistics from the Catholic Church at Kibeho.
Tourism remains Rwanda’s “biggest foreign currency earner”
In his state of the nation address delivered on 31 December 2012, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame commended the contribution of tourism to the growth of the national economy.
“The tourism industry also continued to advance and is now the biggest foreign currency earner. Rwanda’s security and stability attracts visitors keen to see what is being done here and enjoy the country’s various attractions”, said President Kagame.
“By October this year ”, the Head of State went on, “tourism generated $232 million compared to $204 million last year. It is critical that we strive to provide excellent service and customer care so that visitors to Rwanda leave as good ambassadors who will return and also encourage others to visit”.
“In 2012, Rwandan exports grew at 74% while their value increased by 22%. Our imports grew by 29% while their value increased by close to 14%. Although exports grew, there is still a big deficit, judging by how much we spend on imports. We must therefore increase the size and value of our exports in order to maximize benefits”, said President Kagame.
The president’s remarks reveal how important such historical bodies like IKIBUYE CYA SHARI are, whether it takes a geological credit or mythological recognition. Rwanda’s outstanding nature, tales and historic facts need protection and respect for the development and future of the country.