Rwandan Cultural Insights: Queuing – What’s That?

Rwanda is famous for its unusual organisational style. While queuing might be second nature for many of us, it is generally non-existent as a practice in the beautiful country of Rwanda. Brits in particular who are attempting to board a plane, purchase a pair of shoes, or enter a cinema may be shocked at the lack of order.

Rwandan Cultural Insights: Queuing - What's That?

While this is surprising at first, it is important to remember that pushing in is not necessarily an act of rudeness, but an act of necessity. In order to get what you need for yourself and your family, you need to be ruthless. Tourists are advised to bear this in mind or they could find themselves in a never-ending line in which those in the back continually make it to the front first.

New Developments:

While their queuing system comes naturally for many Rwandans, it is clear that others find it less than efficient. In the last decade, public buildings such as hospitals and government offices have installed new queuing management systems. According to Balancing Act, the new systems within hospitals are an attempt to improve client flow and ensure that all patients are seen. After all, if strength and determination are needed to succeed in the standard Rwandan queue, those who are ill may struggle and miss out on needed care. This new development may be especially welcome to tourists who have found difficulties queuing for new passports or advice.

How to Avoid the Scrum:

As in any new country, it is important to get stuck into the culture fully, and you may even find the lack of queuing refreshing after a while. There is, however, one way you can avoid any queuing nightmares. If you find yourself queuing for tickets for a gorilla trekking holiday or to get the bus across the country, you may start to wish you’d been more prepared and booked online. Travel agency websites such as allow tourists to book ahead and avoid difficult queuing situations.

While some claim that queuing in Rwanda has become more common since the civil war, when structured rationing was necessary, many find that Rwanda is still a place where you have to dig your elbows in to get where you want to go. If you’re planning a trip, it may be time to start sharpening those elbows.

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