Kimironko market attracts a huge number of shoppers every day. Prices of foodstuff in this market are relatively higher as a result of the emergence of middle class and upscale neighborhoods in Gasabo area and beyond.
Lately, more and more tourists have been flocking the market. They are attracted by a score of retailers selling handcrafts and made-in-Rwanda fashion items. The curio and clothing stalls are stuffed with a wide range of creatively designed artifacts and apparel.
The last time I entered the market, I bought a new kitenge backpack and a laptop bag made of the same fabric. One of my favorite activities in this market is to buy a piece of kitenge and watch a tailor transform it into a custom-made product of my choice. Kitenge can be sewn into a shirt, wallet, hat or anything else. It stimulates creativity and satisfies the ever-evolving needs of kitenge enthusiasts.
Before I left the market, I spoke to a young entrepreneur, namely Uwizeyimana Bosco. Bosco is passionate about art and fashion. He works with a group of tailors who turn his ideas into fashion statements.
Bosco doesn’t have his own label yet, but his work is gaining recognition in and outside Rwanda. Recently, a few celebrities and public figures have sought his services, igniting a spark of hope amid the uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
When Rwanda hosted the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) tournament, Bosco dressed a handful of delegates including NBA Africa’s Director of Basketball Operations, Franck Traore and former Los Angeles Lakers center, Didier Mbenga. If you thought the BAL benefitted only The Marriott and Radisson Blu, think again.
I met Bosco weeks after the said guests had left the country, but orders were still coming. Yes, the Kimironko-based young man is tapping into the international market and building a global client base. Referrals are putting him in touch with even more renowned individuals and their associates.
African designers are creating a fusion of tradition and contemporary styles. Their creativity, coupled with the power of their colorful Afrocentric material, is making their brands stand out from the crowd.
Domestically, more and more Rwandans are upgrading their wardrobes in favor of locally made items. Gone are the days when quality was reserved for those who could afford to shop in Milan and other destinations on the other side of the ocean. By embracing the creation of our designers, we are pumping the little air we can gasp into the economy and giving local businesses the much-needed support during the Covid-induced crisis.