As nation reconciles with itself, a successful transition helps Rwanda recover from past wounds
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Family Life

After Rwanda's civil war, many Rwandans lived in tents in resettlement camps that were protected by foreign peacekeepers, and others fled to refugee camps in neighbouring countries. During the war, homesteads were destroyed, families were torn apart, and thousands of children were orphaned. Today, some refugees are returning from other countries, including people who left Rwanda in 1959, and villages are being resettled. However, it will take many years to rebuild Rwandan society.

A rugo (traditional Rwandan homestead) consists of several beehive-shaped houses within a larger, fenced compound. The main family house is in the middle. Each house is made of woven branches and grasses, covered with clay. There is no running water, so women and children fetch water for the household every day. In cities, there is some Western-style housing, but most urban Rwandans live in small mud-walled houses with corrugated iron roofs.

The term inzu in Kinyarwanda can mean family, household or house. An inzu usually consists of a husband and wife, children and close relatives. A family without children is considered incomplete, and large families are common. People from several inzus who can trace their origins to a common male ancestor form a kinship unit called a umuryango. The oldest and most influential male in this group is the umukungu, the head of the umuryango.

It is expected that all Rwandans will marry. Only about one in 200 women reaches the age of 50 without marrying. Before a marriage can take place, the groom's family must pay a bride-price, usually a cow, to the bride's father. If the partners wish, a marriage can be dissolved, but the bride-price must be returned to the groom's family. In recent times, Rwandan men and women have been getting married later in life, because of a lack of money to pay the bride-price and the shortage of land to set up a new household.

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