As Expo Rwanda winds up, majority have not yet experienced the true joy that comes along by being an East African; the pride that one takes in seeing how innovative his people are.
From the Agaseke baskets of Rwanda, paper beads from Uganda, carvings from Kenya, you are missing out.
Just behind the center tent at the expo, stands one Ibrahim Katiku. His is not a stall like the rest but a table and a seat. “I always prefer standing outside the tents because I attract more customers here,” he said.
Katiku is a Kenyan who has been attending the Expo ever since the first one. “Since the first Rwanda International Trade Fair, I have never had to complain about losses, or heavy taxes,” Katiku explained.
According to him his business just requires a pen, grain of rice and necklaces. It has always been easy for him to Travel since he actually buys the rice at the country of his destination.
Katiku writes names, messages or makes drawings on grain of rice, puts it in a clear pendant that has oil in it and in a flash of a second; his makes a really beautiful necklace.
“Using a micro pen, I can hand print your name or message on a grain of rice and insert the rice in a dolphin, heart or tear-drop pendant. You may custom choose a necklace, ankle bracelet, ear-rings or key chain.
Other choices for your custom necklace include clear or colored oil (red, blue, yellow, or green, orange, purple), glitter, or a few grains of colored sand while you wait,” Katiku added.
In a day, Katiku attends to hundreds of customers who buy each necklace at Rwf 1000. Katiku learnt this art on his own though he had read about it and watched on TV.He further admits that one must be having a sense of art and talent to do so.
“Obviously, writing a name on a grain of rice requires considerable skill; One needs very good vision, excellent coordination between the hand and the eye, and quite a steady hand,” he said.
He holds the grain of rice steadily because it rolls if you apply pressure on it. Then using a sharp pointed technical Pen, which uses water proof ink he does his art in a flash.
All the way from Egypt, Gad Nour explains to us how being sure of what one is wearing boosts ones self esteem.
He sells leather shoes which he claims that a real men and women know how it feels to have pure leather in his/her closet.
“I am so confident with what I sell; I know its good quality, for people who value quality more than the price, then this is where they ought to be,” Nour said proudly. Apart from shoes he also sells wallets and jackets manufactured by Nour Egypt Limited (his company) from Egypt.
The one unique thing about his shoes is that the soul plus the shoe laces are also made from pure leather.
According to the leather expert, leather products are however delicate and need special care to maintain. Whether you spend a lot on your shoes, or don’t have much to spend, taking care of your leather shoes makes sense and removes the need to buy new shoes for every occasion.
“Without proper care, leather can dry out until it eventually cracks and falls apart, and you will no longer want to wear them out of the house even if they did cost a small fortune,” Nour explained
With a variety of colour and size, Nour will satisfy everyone regardless of age. He further adds that he has had clients who bought shoe from him last year and their shoes are still in good shape.
The only obvious step they take is to buy a new one but now only a different colour and shape.
With this year’s expo seeing more than two thirds exhibitors from Rwanda, we must all get some time before it closes down to promote our own; to experience that spirit of East African unity.