All Across Africa

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Meaning & Purpose


Because friends give them to celebrate major life events such as weddings, births and graduations, baskets are proudly displayed as symbols of wealth of friends, family and life.

For our weavers, baskets represent status as weaving has made many of them valued people in their society, bringing regular income into their homes. Not only are they able to overcome poverty, but they can also save money, buy land and create new businesses.


The sunburst pattern on these baskets is known as the "hope" design. Reflected on the Rwandan flag, this sunburst image stands for the country's collective hope for a new dawn and brighter future. This design means a lot to the weavers we partner with, as each basket they sell increases their chances for a better life. Quality of life, community status, self-worth and confidence are just a few of the hopeful effects these baskets bring. With the income the weavers receive, they are able to open bank accounts, start businesses and even hire other workers. The effect from the production and income of basket weaving ripples through the entire nation.

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The three-line pattern on this basket is known as the "unity" design and symbolizes the three ethnic groups that divided Rwanda in 1994, but who now work together to heal wounds from the past. Weaving cooperatives act as support networks and places to exchange knowledge and build relationships. Weavers heal through the collective effort of working toward the same purpose and goal: to create beauty with their own hands. In the end, hearts and lives weave together in new ways that strengthen the bonds between individuals, allowing them to move forward on common ground.

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This cathedral-shaped basket is the signature vessel of Rwanda, the "friendship" basket. It holds such important meaning in Rwanda's culture that it's featured on the country's national emblem. Also known as the agaseke basket, it is a symbol of generosity, gratitude and compassion, and embodies giving. Thus, agaseke baskets are commonly given to friends, family members or hosts at significant life events such as weddings, births and graduations, stuffed full of fresh and dried foods as a token of love. Recipients proudly display them in their homes. Beyond friendship, agaseke baskets represent usefulness, the skill required to create them, and deep ties to the land and womanhood. Beautifully made, agaseke baskets have a myriad of uses. "Savoring the world only takes place when you get along. The world makes no sense without friendship." Rwandan proverb

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The linear rays emanating from the sunrise pattern of this basket paints a picture of dawn's first light peeking through the morning mist over the beautiful hills in Rwanda and Uganda. The radiating light reveals stillness and peace, uniting the people of each region with a warm glow as they emerge from the dark of night. Because these nations sit on the equator, the sun consistently rises at 6 a.m. all year long. East Africans are greeted with a dependably punctual sun that brightens each new beginning that comes with each new day.

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This basket recalls Rwanda's mountainous terrain. The beautiful design illustrates the mountain ranges that cover the nation and surround the countryside with amazing views. Often referred to as "the land of a thousand hills" Rwanda is composed of countless mountain ranges whose steep slopes are dotted with thousands of terraced farms that seemingly defy gravity as sure-footed farmers harvest crops from these precipitous plots. Hidden among the hills are thriving vegetation and vibrant wildlife, most famously the rare mountain gorillas. It's been said that Rwanda's terrain offers a democratic beauty, as rich and poor alike are blessed with incredible views of the land and cities.


The bold, pointed pattern on the dancer basket is conjures the full, sharp movements and brilliant costumes of East African dancers spinning to a drummer's beat. Both Rwanda and Uganda have rich traditions of celebrations that involve music and dance. But traditional East African dances go beyond entertainment; they often tell stories and pay tribute to life-giving commodities and animals. Young girls in Rwanda, for example, perform the harvest dance during the festival of umuganura to celebrate first fruits, and unmarried Rwandan youth dance the ikinimba as part of a courtship ritual; the dance's flowing arm movements show off the women's beautiful grace. Similarly, in Uganda, young women dance the lakaraka.
"It has often been said that everyone dances in Africa, and that Africa is the festival continent. Infact, an African proverb says that if you can talk, you can sing. And if you can walk, you can dance." -Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda

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This basket pattern symbolizes welcome customs. In Rwanda and Uganda, people meeting for the first time shake right hands and place their left hand under the opposing r ight forearm to show respect. Some people even kiss the air next to each cheek while shaking hands. Rwandans and Ugandans value hospitality and graciousness, as evident in their social customs. This basket is a wonderful addition to any home, welcoming all who visit.

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The circular pattern on this basket symbolizes the cycle of rebirth, in which rain plays a vital role. East Africa has two rainy seasons, each lasting two to three months. Because the majority of East Africa's people rely on agriculture to survive, they trust that rain will come to cultivate the seeds they sow, and reward their hard work by bringing life and nourishment to people, animals and plants. Thus the rain pattern represents the cleansing of one life stage and hope in the promise of growth.

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This basket is dedicated to Rwanda's bold and beautiful mountain gorillas who can be found roaming in the rich vegetative forests nestled among Rwanda's volcanic mountains. Tourists come from all over the world for a chance to make the trek to Rwanda to see these incredible mammals.

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