How to shop at Kimironko market

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

4 Responses to “How to shop at Kimironko market”

  1. meemalee says:

    I love going to markets – strange new colours, smells, sounds and always lively.

    I have to say though, I have colonial hang-ups about people fetching and carrying for me when I don’t even have any reason to :p

  2. kigaliwire says:

    In all seriousness, it’s all about supporting the local economy. These guys genuinely make your life 100% easier. And the payment you give them helps make their life easier too, no? And, it’s not just pasty faced Europeans who hire help, plenty middle class Rwandans do too – well, a lot just send the maid to shop for them, but that’s another story…

  3. Jen Osborne says:

    I really like the Nyambirambo Market, but I love the Kimironko Market! It’s the absolute best for buying cloth and having clothes made–good fit, good prices. The best selection of textiles are in Kimironko as well.

    I haven’t paid anyone to carry for me during the times I went there, and it’s never been a problem. I was also happy to notice that while I tried on clothing behind a very revealing “curtain,” there were no gawkers. Very decent of everyone.

    I enjoy your posts and tweets. Keep up the good work.
    JO

  4. […] ambitions for the country. The first part of his report is now online. Peter visited the veg-tastic Kimironko market, talked to Louise Mushikiwabo, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carina Tertsakian, from Human […]