From hides to trousers, Rwanda’s dressing evolution

Gone are the days when Rwanda was confined to a specific dress cord. Those days when ‘animal skins’ were the thing. In this dotcom generation, Rwanda hasn’t only seen facebook and flashy mobile phones; dressing has seen major changes that can’t go unnoticed.
L-R:Rwandan girls wearing cow skins in the days of yore;Jeans are the in thing now
L-R:Rwandan girls wearing cow skins in the days of yore;Jeans are the in thing now

Gone are the days when Rwanda was confined to a specific dress cord. Those days when ‘animal skins’ were the thing.
In this dotcom generation, Rwanda hasn’t only seen facebook and flashy mobile phones; dressing has seen major changes that can’t go unnoticed.

The velocity of the dressing transformation is way too high that some styles are almost written off as others become famous.

Because it is what she grew up seeing, 17 year old Esther Ndayizeye thought trousers were all that Rwanda had had within the 21st century.

“All the women surrounding me including my mother fancy trousers. Is it because the trousers have been famous for many years in Rwanda,” asked Ndayizeye.

It’s indeed a paradox especially for the young generation to know how dressing has advanced from one style to another.
 It’s unbelievable to some that at some point, Rwandans dressed up in animal skins!

Much as today people are satisfied with what they wear, elderly Rwandans also have stories to tell fantasizing their former styles.

”I respect whatever we wear today though I  also admit that ancient dressing included a lot of creativity that we don’t have now,” says Straton Bagizimana,76.

Explaining about the famous animal skins that he grewup wearing and cherish as a young boy keeps a smile on his elderly cheeks.

“Boys and girls wrapped skins around their waists while married women had an extra belt {umweko} that they tied around their breasts,” says Bagizimana.

The skin cloths which were prepared according to the animal in question were distributed evenly according to age, marital status and role in the society.

For example newly married women wore ‘inkanda’ cow skin; girls who had reached the age of getting married wore ‘ishabure’ the more refined dress from goatskin.

“If we could explain the reason why who wore this kind of skin, you would wish to go back to the skin era,” says Bagizimana.

The 1940 skin design lost market when colonialism introduced its many fabrics and the technology to make cloths.

This change was like a blessing in disguise. Rwanda lost its original cultural way of dressing but a variety of dressing options was introduced.

The transformation introduced cotton and linen fabrics. Skirts, bell bottom trousers and Gabon shoes were the best the 1970’s had.

“I still adore my look I had when I put on my mini skirt, a tight top, platform shoes and my afro hair,” says Gladys Musanabera.

During her youth, mini skirts were the best style for every teenage girl.

Currently, dressing has diverted even with a bigger weave; trousers!  The obsession for trousers has hit its highest!

Regardless of age, marital status, almost all ladies have decided to go that way.

Designers are concentrating on introducing different types and labels of trousers so as to fit in the market!

“I have resorted to descent linen pants, pencil jeans and flared trousers,” says Ruth Mugenyi a designer.

Rwandans credit their craze for trousers to the comfort they give. “Trousers don’t expose yet they are smart to wear,” says Agnes Kangabe.

With all the development in the dressing industry, let’s just watch the space for the next design on the block.

Ends

ADVERTISEMENT