Every year during the month of April we commemorate the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, during this period, it is important to dress modestly, nicely and soberly.
Over the years, etiquette in dressing for a funeral or mourning period have evolved, it is a little less stiff these days, but one rule remains the same, dress as respectfully as possible. This is the one general rule that you should always observe and consider beforehand.
Another thing to consider this period is the colour. Colours have different meanings and they are used differently. For example; in some societies, black is commonly associated with mourning, though colour experts claim that it’s a multipurpose colour.
In Rwanda especially during this period of mourning, purple is as a sign of respect in remembrance of over a million Rwandans killed during the genocide.
“People adorn purple, shirts, dresses, neck scarves, wraps, armbands and sometimes as wristbands. How you choose to wear purple is up to you - there is really no force, one does so voluntarily,” says, Francis Zahabu, a fashion designer.
To most of us the colour purple is a sign of hope, and it makes genocide survivours and the entire community of Rwandans, believes that despite the tragedy that claimed innocent lives, there is still hope of unity and reconciliation amongst Rwandans.
“Purple is not just a colour, to us it’s a symbol of unity, during this mourning period, whenever you meet someone wearing a pink armband or a pink ribbon, you feel you have a connection,” says Silas Kamanda, a Genocide survivour.
Colembe Ituze, a fashion enthusiast, says that during the mourning period, specially the first week, if possible one should avoid wearing loud colours such as yellow or orange, unless if it’s a work uniform, as these colours tend to attract attention in a negative way.
“Stick to darker colours and leave the bright colours and wild patterns for celebrations,” Ituze.
If you are visiting a Genocide Memorial Center, try and dress reasonably. For women, the length of the dress or skirt should not be too short, avoid wearing clothes that are too revealing. A tight and low-cut outfit makes both you and those around you feel uncomfortable at such a sober time. Things like a pair of shorts, running shoes or baseball caps are always frowned upon.