Nyamirambo Women’s Center | Basketweaving

After the fun we had doing pottery in Gatagara, we set up another activity with VAYANDO at the Nyamirambo Women’s Center in Kigali during my parents’ and aunt’s trip to Rwanda last January/February.

My husband and I love Rwandan baskets…the colors and patterns! Anytime we found a new pattern or color scheme, we could not resist getting one or even two. The stacks and stacks of baskets we have around our house is a giveaway that we are obsessed. Having gotten rid of a decent amount of our decorations before moving, I would find festive baskets of all sizes in the colors of the holiday.

I’ve always admired the effort I could only imagine went into making all the baskets throughout our house. I jumped at the chance to take my parents and aunt along to the Nyamirambo Women’s Center to learn basketweaving for ourselves.

Starting that morning at the women’s center, we were anxious to hear about the materials used, the significance of basketweaving in Rwandan culture, and to try it for ourselves. As we spent two and a half hours with Grace and Christine and our interpreter, we quickly became friends. They were inviting and open and as we struggled to get our fingers to work right, we quickly gained a greater appreciation for their trade and the baskets I adore.

Grace loved my dad’s stubbornness to do things his way. She was a great teacher and was patient to let him put his own spin on her technique. They traded childhood stories leading us to talk about the differences between all of our childhoods in Rwanda and in the US spanning several generations.

Our friendship progressed as we discussed US politics, hearing what they thought of Donald Trump and sharing our views as well of the candidate and the political system. We discussed cultural norms and taboos…including tattoos. Our teachers and interpreter explained to us the history of the Nyamiramba neighborhood of Kigali, also known as the Muslim quarter, as we shared a snack of naan.

Left: My mom’s creation in blue, her sample in green; Right: My creation in light green

Our visit left us exhausted from our attempts at making our own small tokens of our experience,  sad to leave our new friends, and a deep appreciation.

Schedule your own visit for this unique experience through VAYANDO.

Learn more about the Nyamirambo Women’s Center.