11 Things You Can Only Buy in Rwanda

Bee Light candles
Bee Light candles | Courtesy of Bee Light
Leah Feiger

High-quality goods are on the rise in Rwanda, as local artists are creating some of the region’s most unique items. From contemporary jewelry to artisan jam, Rwanda offers everything a quirky traveler and shopper could hope for. Here are eleven things to purchase on your next visit to the land of a thousand hills.

Kitenge accessories

Colorful fabric known in Rwanda as kitenge is worn by most women in Rwanda, and can be found in markets across the country. Contemporary artisans in Rwanda have recently begun to use kitenge in creative ways, making their mark on a once-traditional material. Check out the kitenge bow ties at the House of Tayo, one of Rwanda’s most celebrated designers.

House of Tayo

Homeopathic oils

With Rwanda’s excellent produce and herb selection, homeopathic and essential oils are now sold around Kigali. Ikirezi, a company dedicated to these oils, makes an assortment of scents, including geranium, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and patchouli.

Ikirezi essential oils

Beaded jewelry

Although there are many jewelry designers across East Africa, beaded jewelry is making a comeback in Rwanda as contemporary designs mix modern looks with traditional methods. Check out Inzuki Designs for some of Rwanda’s most beautiful offerings.

Inzuki

Embroidered pouches

Embroidery is on the rise in Rwanda, and no one does it better than Ibaba Rwanda. This upmarket brand began in 2012, and works to employ and train women in the rural town of Rutongo. Their cute pouches are handmade, and really unique.

Women working at Ibaba Rwanda

Artisanal jam

Fresh bananas, passion fruit, mangoes, pineapples, and all sorts of delicious fruits are grown in Rwanda. A couple of small companies are taking advantage of the fresh and varied produce to create artisanal jams, and they can be found around Kigali.

Amagara jam at Inzora Rooftop Cafe

Twa Pottery

The Twa, a minority indigenous to Rwanda, are regionally renowned for making pottery special to Rwanda. Their methodologies have been employed for centuries, and the materials are all natural. Check out beautiful blue, grey, and brown ceramic Twa bowls and mugs at Kigali Pottery Collections.

Imigongo

Unique to Rwanda, these stark and durable art pieces are created by mixing cow dung with bright coloring. This traditional art form is made across the country, and can be purchased at any art cooperative or market.

Imigongo artwork

Gourmet Coffee

Rwanda is incredibly famous for its rich and fruity coffee. Though much of it is exported around the world, and can be found at trendy cafes across Brooklyn, try Question Coffee in Kigali for some of Rwanda’s best.

Question Coffee Bar, KG 674, Kigali, Rwanda, +250 781 968 027

Inzora Rooftop Cafe, KG 5, Kigali, Rwanda, +250 789 539 764

Coffee in Rwanda

Amahoro baskets

Amahoro baskets, directly translated from Kinyarwanda to mean “peace baskets,” are made in a style unique to Rwanda. Triangular at the top and round at the base, they take three days to weave and can be found at any market or cooperative in Rwanda.

Pili Pili

Pili Pili, a really spicy chili pepper, is found all over Rwanda. Try Akabanga, a pili pili oil made and sold in Rwanda, to spice up an average meal. Akabanga can be found all over the country, and small bottles are a great gift for friend and family at home.

Akabanga chili oil

Handmade candles

Beautiful bees-wax candles have been recently making appearances within Rwanda’s artisanal scene. Check out Bee Light, a social enterprise that makes candles using 100% natural Rwandan beeswax and wax accessories with eco-friendly raw and recycled materials.

Bee Light candles

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