As many of you know from following me on Instagram. Last month I traveled to Kigali, Rwanda (more Rwanda travels here) for work with my then 4-month old son, Patriot, and his Gammy, my mother-in-law. One of the first things the Lampard ladies and baby did in Rwanda was a walking tour of Nyamirambo.
Nyamirambo is a vibrant neighborhood in the south west part of Kigali. It’s been called, Kigali’s “coolest neighborhood” and the “heart of Kigali” so when the Akilah Institute moved to a new campus just a short walk away, I knew it was time for me to explore.
The neighborhood is one of Kigali’s oldest and is now a bustling and diverse community. The area is home to a largely Muslim population, but it is also popular amongst locals and expats looking for more affordable housing options.
Carol, Patriot, and I made our way to the Nyamirambo Women’s Center one morning to start our tour of the neighborhood. The center is home to the Umutima Cooperative which I had visited before to shop for their beautiful kitenge fabric products. Umutima means “heart” in Kinyarwanda and it’s clear that the women of the cooperative put a lot of it into their handicrafts.
The Nyamirambo Women’s Center (NWC) offers sewing classes, English classes, computer classes, literacy classes, and weaving classes to its community members. The women in the Umutima Cooperative earn a fair wage to support their families.
I’m a big fan of their work and they were big fans of Patriot.
Exploring the Neighborhood
After a nice morning chapati, a quick Kinyarwanda lesson and an introduction to the center’s activities and programs, we were off with our tour guide and one other visitor to explore Nyamirambo. First stop? The local bar.
This isn’t your typical bar however. It’s a milk bar!
Meeting up with friends for a nice warm glass of milk, may sound unusual, but these milk bars are common in Rwanda. Especially in a Muslim neighborhood like Nyamirambo, where the local population does not drink alcohol, milk bars not only provide well, milk, for a family, but they’re a hang out spot for the community.
From the milk bar we made our way to a nearby hair salon. We learned a bit about local hair styles before trying out our own version. I loved the look on myself though it was a doozy to unbraid a few days later. If my postpartum hair loss continues, I’ll need to make another visit to my kind hair stylist for a full set of these.
Tailors and Ironing
As you’ve seen from prior Rwanda visits, I love the bold, colorful kitenge found in Rwanda. We stopped by a local tailor and saw all the different options for Rwandan, Muslim, and other custom African styles.
We also visited a small ironing stand where they were pressing suits with charcoal irons.
Produce, Cassava, and Lunch
After a quick walk through a small produce shop, we saw how they pounded cassava leaves before making our way to lunch at Aminatha’s house.
Aminatha fixed a big lunch of different types of potatoes, rice, and beans. Plus a side of hot sauce of course. Peter would have loved it!