BY: THE NEW TIMES, RWANDA
It is no secret that historically, cows have always been valuable in Rwandan society just as in many regional countries.
From ancient times, cows were a measure of wealth and class, and in some parts of the country, they still are. If you want to wish someone well, you say “gira Inka”, and when you want to thank them dearly you say “nguhaye inka” for “I give you a cow/cows”.
Today, people still greet each other with “amashyo” for “have thousands of cows. To have someone go beyond wishing you to have cows and gift them to you is still regarded as the best gesture of friendship and appreciation.
Cow gifting is regarded as an act of building friendships or kinships given to mark appreciation, honor, and well wishing when someone is pleased with you.
As noticed on different occasions, President Paul Kagame offered cows to many of his counterparts or other high-ranking officials during their visit in Rwanda.
President Filipe Nyusi, Mozambique
On Saturday, July 29, Kagame gifted visiting Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi with long-horned Rwandan cattle locally known as Inyambo from his farm in Eastern Province.
Rwanda and Mozambique enjoy good bilateral relations, especially in security where the Rwandan forces have been making commendable milestones in bringing back security in Cabo Delgado.
President Nyusi in September 2021 thanked the people of Rwanda and President Kagame, who was then visiting in northern Mozambique, for having quickly understood his country’s need for help and acted accordingly to help thwart a threat posed by terrorists in his country’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado.
President Denis Sassou N’guesso, Republic of Congo
On July 23, Kagame offered President Sassou N’guesso a tour of his farm in Kibugabuga, Eastern Province, and gifted him Inyambo cows.
He was on a three-day state visit to Rwanda where he had back-to-back bilateral engagements including addressing the parliament, witnessing the signing of a trade agreement, visiting the Rwanda Institute of Conservation of Agriculture, and was also awarded the National Order of Honour.
President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda
Inyambo cows are also cherished in neighboring Uganda, where they are known as Ankole cows.
In 2011, Kagame gifted President Museveni 10 cows when he visited the former’s ranch in Rwamagana District, accompanied by First Lady Janet Museveni and their daughter Natasha Museveni.
The gesture was also returned when Museveni gifted Kagame 20 cows in 2012, during his visit to Uganda where he spent Christmas with his family.
Late President John Pombe Magufuli, Tanzania
Kagame also gifted five Inyambo cows to the President Magufuli of Tanzania in 2016.
It was during his first visit to Rwanda after he was elected president that the two leaders discussed bilateral relations and advancing East Africa Community bloc. The two inaugurated the Rusumo one-stop border post.
Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Uganda
In 2022, Kagame also offered 10 cows to Gen Muhoozi, Uganda’s senior presidential advisor in charge of special operations.
The latter said that the cows had multiplied to 17 cows during his visit to Rwanda in April 2023, and added that it was a seal of their friendship between them.
This, cow diplomacy, is what President Kagame has used to cement bilateral relations out of office and has a lasting effect because of the value it holds in Rwanda and other parts of the world.
It is worth noting that he also received cows from other African leaders including the Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed in 2018.
Your support empowers us to deliver quality global journalism. Whether big or small, every contribution is valuable to our mission and readers.