In the Rwandan traditional culture, flowers were never of significance as they are becoming today, as gifting cows was the norm then.
With globalization however, the culture of giving and decorating with flowers today is being adopted.
François-Xavier Nziyonsenga, who has been growing and exporting flowers for four years now, wants to change the narrative, by introducing a new culture of growing, handling, and decorating with flowers.
“I’m trying to change the narrative in a culture which doesn’t traditionally give value to flowers. In our tradition, flowers were just any weed growing around in the wild. Nowadays, with globalization, we are becoming aware of the importance of these flowers. But, we haven’t yet learned how to handle and use them properly,” he said.
The idea was sparked five years ago, when he had just returned from Canada, where he had lived for over four decades. He passed by a beautifully decorated wedding venue in Kicukiro but what he saw the following day shocked him.
“I was living in Kicukiro, I passed by a wedding venue that had beautiful roses decorated, only to find the roses scattered on the road side the following day.
What I perceived that day is that the flowers didn’t mean anything to them after the party and it showed that they didn’t understand the artefact that they were using. I then realised that we can introduce flowers into today’s Rwanda and explain to people what flowers are, and how people can use them.
We can start our culture of flowers, different from other cultures. We can innovate and present to the world our new, unique, Rwandan culture of flowers,” he says.