There is a thriving art scene in Rwanda and you can pick up some really beautiful, one-off pieces to take home with you. Colourful paintings are a fantastic way to remember your Rwandan holiday, but the most famous of all Rwandan souvenirs are the woven baskets. They were traditionally used to carry wedding gifts to the lucky couple, but you can use them for anything you want. There is a huge variety and you will be able to find the piece that suits your style and colours.
Rwanda also sells a lot of local fabrics including the usually colourful kitenge. You can purchase some and take home to make clothes, cushions covers, or even wall hangings with them.
Other interesting pieces of art to buy are the typical Rwandan paintings called imigongo which are made with cow dung. The dung is applied to a wooden board and left to dry, often in geometrical and spiral designs. It is then painted with organic colours, traditionally in black, white, red, grey, and beige.
So when you are on the lookout for something Rwandan, make sure you try to have a look for:
- imigongo, the paintings made with cow dung
- fabrics, including kitenge
- pottery from the Batwa people
- t-shirts with prints
- wood carvings
But whatever souvenir you pick up in Rwanda, please be aware what you are buying. Do not buy things made of ivory, coral, shells, rhino horn, tortoise shell, rare hardwoods or wild animal hides.
If you are not sure what the souvenir you are buying is made off and if it is legal, then don’t buy it. Not only it is illegal to buy certain items, but it is also illegal to transport those items out of the country and you can get in a lot of trouble.
Instead, try to find out where things are made locally, usually by women’s groups, and buy directly from them. A great way to support the people and show them that tourism brings jobs and money to the communities.