Rwanda – The land of Milk Bars

A tradition unique to Rwanda, the MILK BAR is Rwanda’s version of a gastropub. They serve just what their name suggests: Milk, and in abundance. To my surprise Rwanda is the only country in Africa, were there are more Milk Bars than Beer Bars. Milk bars are the place to catch breakfast or lunch, as well as to socialize with loved ones and fellow Rwandans.

Milk Bar in Rwanda

Milk Bars provide their patrons a nice place where one can sit and enjoy a large cup of fresh milk, just as one would expect to do in a beer bar. You can add a sweet kick to your mug with sugar or honey. Most milk bars offer tea bags or Cadbury chocolate powder for added flavors. Another strange yet satisfying innovation to the traditional milk is – Amata na Fanta Bikonje. It is cold milk and soda.

Rwandans love milk, so much so that price of a litre of milk is less than the price of a litre. of packed drinking water, something that is true for beer in European nations ?

These milk bars are unique to Rwanda, and cannot be found anywhere else in East Africa. Kigali is Rwanda’s milk-bar capital. Rwanda and Botswana have the highest per capita consumption of milk among all African Nations.

Cows, other than being the milk producers, are incredibly important to Rwandan culture. They often signify both prosperity and wealth, and appear in many of the country’s rites and rituals. The gusaba, a traditional Rwandan wedding ceremony, witnesses the exchange of cows from the groom’s family to the bride’s father, and is still in use today. Cows even feature on their currency notes.

The quality of Cows milk (Rwanda has only cows, no buffaloes) here is much better than India and also, they have good milk products. Being Indian I especially like the quality of ghee here and it was reasonably priced.

For Rwandans milk is synonymous to happiness and abundance. Cow and milk are very important in Rwandans culture. So, a guy with a lot of milk, is the most perfect face of gain and abundance and the general Rwandan population will recognize it as prosperity.  This was aptly used by an internet giant in their ad that had a Milk can captioned as “Just when you thought you couldn’t get more, here comes the MTN Internet Irikure.”

Ad in Rwanda

That’s an interesting benefit of milk. I saw this ad at many places on big billboards throughout Kigali.