Rwanda’s Tradition Comes to Life on UGHE’s Butaro Campus

In the northern province of Rwanda, six buildings sit against the rich tapestry of Rwanda’s terraced hills. Butaro District Hospital can be seen across the valley and, on a clear day, Mt. Muhabura is visible in the distance. The picturesque setting is home to UGHE, where Rwanda’s diverse landscapes and deep-rooted traditions meet state-of-the-art classrooms.

When walking through the campus, visitors are encompassed by geometric designs painted on the outside walls of several buildings. The rich patterns are known as imigongo, a traditional Rwandan art form made of cow dung. Often displayed on walls, pottery, and wooden canvas, the patterns date back to the 18th century, where Prince Kakira commissioned imigongo as interior decoration for his home. Following the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, a women’s cooperative revived the craft in an effort to preserve culture and promote reconciliation.

More than just an art form, many imigongo patterns also hold special meaning. For UGHE’s campus, designers selected motifs that reflect the University’s mission and celebrate cultural themes of unity and strength.

Click through the gallery below to learn more about the imigongo patterns painted throughout UGHE’s Butaro home.

Intege z’abasaza

Picture 5 of 5

Cluster 5 of student housing is painted with the Intege z’abasaza pattern which means, “wisdom is at the knees of the grandfathers.” The saying comes from when children would sit at knee-level with their grandparents to be taught life lessons. Throughout their lives, students will hold many roles. As students at UGHE they will be learners, actively absorbing the knowledge that is distilled upon them. When they graduate, students will be educators as they share and translate lessons learned at UGHE into organizations and communities across the globe.