If you want to go shopping at the excellent Kimironko covered market, east of central Kigali and you don’t look Rwandan there are two rules you might want to follow. First, hire a guy to watch your car. You won’t find this too tricky as you’ll be mobbed by potential employees as soon as you drive into the parking area. Second, choose another guy to carry your bag, hope any squabbles over your trade are short-lived, quickly get over any colonial hang ups and go shopping. A good bag carrier knows the market inside out. He (and it’s always a he) knows all the stalls, the produce, what’s good and when it’s good. Sure, he’s on a commission from the stall holders he chooses to take you to, but he knows that if he takes you to rubbish, you won’t hire him again.
Kimironko is the largest market in Kigali. The central covered area is all fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, dried beans, dried fish and rock salt. Prices have increased in recent months, but the produce is stacks better than what you’ll find at the (more expensive and often rotting) Nakamatt, La Gallete or Frulep supermarkets in town. Kimironko is one of the few places you can regularly find fresh thyme, rosemary, celery and rhubarb. There are also decent mangoes from Burundi – Rwanda’s high altitude is great for growing coffee – but abysmal when it comes to tropical fruit.
One side of the covered area sells shoes, kitchen equipment, clothes, fabric, carvings and touristy knickknacks. There are a bunch of other stalls surrounding the main market including refrigerated fish, chicken and meat stalls. There’s even a radio station for the market playing mostly gospel music and dishing out announcements to stall holders and shoppers in Kinyarwanda. I’ll have more on Kimironko market in the coming weeks and months. For now, here are a few more photographs from the market.
Photos taken from the Kigali Wire Flickr account