From time immemorial, Rwanda has been distinguished by skillful poets with rhythmic lyrical mastery and grace that was central in most entertainment and social scenes. In fact, the ancient kingdom of Rwanda had a substantial body of oral literature and the most acclaimed being ibisigo, a rich collection of royal poetry and Ibyivugo, self-praises and heroic poetry.
Rwandan history has it that Nyiraruganzu Nyirarumaga, the Queen Mother of King Ruganzu II Ndori, one of the greatest contributors to traditional knowledge, established a royal institution known as “Intebe y’Abasizi” (the Seat of Poets) whose role was to promote and preserve the art of ibisigo.
Poetry as a genre of literature is popularly defined as work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by the use of distinctive style, rhythm and wording. To date there are still distinguished traditional poets brilliantly tailoring cultural norms and values into poetry.
Alexis Murenzi, a cultural enthusiast and renown pastoral poet, says poetry is one of the vital means with which Rwandan values and stories can be narrated, upheld and conserved. He performs during weddings and other traditional events where he slickly sings and serenades the Inyambo traditional cows. Murenzi who has been involved in the craft for 5 years stresses a need for more traditional poets.
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