The beautifully laid crafts display a unique view of Rwandan culture, right from the baskets to bracelets, arm bands, bags paintings, woodcarvings and mats.

It is a sense of art that will come into your mind as you see these creations but as you look closely, you will notice that it is more than just crafts.

A display of Rwandan – made products in one of Agaseke Crafts shops in downtown Kigali. The New Times / Andrew Israel Kazibwe

Marie Florence Naweniwe, a sales representative at Agaseke Crafts shops in Kigali City centre, located opposite the Commercial Bank of Rwanda (BCR), tells us more of what is behind the exhibition in this shop.

Naweniwe explains that for years now, ‘Agaseke’ project has been growing, and it currently has sixteen cooperatives in various centers of the country.

The project was an inspiration of the ‘IMBUTO ‘ Foundation  and Kigali  City leaders in a bid to bring girls and women together, in something productive, not only to themselves but to the country too, since many were unemployed  after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

They were brought together and first trained how to weave baskets, traditionally known as Agaseke out of sisal, grass and raffia. The skillfully woven basket in its design displays and represents the Rwandan culture and tradition.

The project has not only united women, but also created employment for many as now they can make their own items earn money.

Q: What kind of  people buy your products?
A: Most of our clients are foreigners. They buy our items and take them to their countries as souvenir from Rwanda.

Q: Do they like locally made products?
A: Yes, they do like them so much because they are unique, original and skillfully designed with a great display of the Rwandan culture.

Q: What are your future prospects?
A:  Since there is still market for our items, and they are appreciated by customers, we hope to continue displaying Rwandan culture through this because we do not want it to be forgotten.

Q: Any advice to people out there?
A: Making these items is a way of promoting our culture. So buying them is to support and promote Rwandan culture.

By Andrew Israel Kazibwe, The New Times

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