New Delhi: Rwanda and the key role that cattle plays in the lives of its people made it to the news in India thanks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi gifting 200 locally sourced cows to a group of villagers under the Rwandan government’s Girinka social protection scheme.
But a lesser known fact is that one breed—the Inyambo—has fast become a very popular tourist attraction in Rwanda.
So what’s so special about this breed?
Characterised by their very long horns and brown coats, the Inyambos’ historical and cultural importance is said to be even more impressive.
Under the Rwandan monarchy that existed for centuries, the Inyambo had a special place during important ceremonies in honour of the king.
And because they were destined for a special mission in life, the breeding of the cows was also special. The breeder in charge had to provide the Inyambo with the “amazi ahiye"—a sort of salty beverage—which ensured that the cows produced calves that looked alike.
When the calves turned a year old, they were sent to the king’s palace for training by a competent cow keeper. The Inyambo cows were taught to listen to a trainer’s songs and follow his movements. They would also march in stately parade during royal ceremonies in which they were decorated with rich jewellery.
At present, the breeding and grooming of Inyambo is carried out under the Rwanda Agriculture Board.
The cows that Modi gifted to the villagers earlier on Tuesday were mainly Friesian or Jersey cows, which are the breeds of choice under the Girnika Scheme which ensures that poorest families in a village receive dairy cows by the Rwandan government. The first female calf born of each cow is then gifted by a villager to his or her neighbour in a bid to promote brotherhood and solidarity in the community.
So far, an estimated 200,000 families have benefited from the Girinka scheme.