Kitengi, a staple in Rwandan women’s closet
In Rwanda, kitenge is commonly worn as casual wear and formal wear depending on its type. Average women wear it more often in different styles and others that are fashionable mix kitenge with other materials and wear them to different places.
Kitenge is an African garment which has an edging only at the longest side and is commonly worn in some countries like Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Sudan among other countries.
Though originally African, it’s worn all over the world today due to its huge variety of colors and patterns. Though it serves as an informal decorated piece of clothing, kitenge nowadays is fit for formal occasions depending on the design, materials mixed with it and how it’s dressed up.
Apart from wearing it, African fabric can be used on various occasions and in various ways. For example it can be used to hold babies on the mothers back especially among rural population, as a gift, decorative pieces at dinner tables and as decorative pieces of art or wall hangings.
Although they have different brands and come from different countries, African fabric serves the same purpose to the wearers. It is easy to wear and most Rwandan women have them in almost the same style; a wrap skirt and a blouse embroidered at the neck and arms.
However, its different when it comes to girls who have them tailored into tight or fitting skirts and blouses or short and long dresses.
At kimironko, one of the biggest local markets, a variety of bitenge materials are displayed and women buy depending on their choice and capacity.
Alfonsine Mukakarisa, who deals in bitenge materials at this market, revealed that the middle class buys them a lot. “They come in different materials and prints. Shopping depends on the customers demand but the fairly ones in terms of price are the most bought,” she adds.
The best Kitenge material ranges from Rwf15.000 to Rwf100.000 in 3 pieces (six metres or yards) while others can be sold according to the yards one wants. The cheapest material in any print of your choice is at Rwf1500 a metre; and a medium hard kitenge costs between Rwf5000 and Rwf6000 a piece (4 metres), explains Mukakarisa.
The amazing part of the kitenge fabric is that you can get every color in the world, bright colors, neutral and dull colors. It all comes down to your preference.
Similarly to Kimironko market, African fabric can be found at many local stores and markets in the city and in the outskirts.