The Kampala: A Well Connected Bag

A bag can be utilitarian, a status symbol, the “it” item of the year, a work of art, a connection to someone or the past….I am sure I’m leaving something out.

And of course, bags are just things. They do not live, breathe or have a heart and soul. But some bags can connect us with those who do.

My Kampala and I not disturbing the “Sleeping Child”, a Plaza landmark in Kansas City, Missouri. This look features plaid linen pants (made by me), an Avöru top, a Lilly Dawson necklace and some very old Clark sandals with a thrifted reptile printed belt.

My purple Kampala bag by 2 Rivers Africa does that for me. It connects to craftspeople in the Great Rift Valley in Western Kenya. This bag provides income and a chance to build skills in a valuable craft for women and men in the Great Rift Valley.

I was asked by 2 Rivers Africa if I would be interested in putting one of their bags through its paces and see what I think. This is my review and honest opinion.


The Kampala is a large and roomy leather Satchel that comes in orange, red, purple, light brown and dark brown. Dimensions are: Height: 12.25”; Depth (front to back): 7.5”; Handle drop: 7.5”. The Kampala’s brass hardware is sturdy and includes two snaps on each side that lets you expand it into a tote bag. There is also a snap at the top to help keep it closed. The addition of a beaded and fringed leather tassel is a nice touch.

The interior is fully lined and has a large zippered pocket and two fabric pockets, one on each side. The interior pockets are a lovely abstract pattern of dyed blue and purple.

My Kampala and I at the City Marker after attending the June 2017, Kansas Artist’s Coalition’s River Market Regional Exhibition. We were just about to go and eat at The Farmhouse Restaurant when Michael snapped this. Included in my style are a thrifted patent leather belt, cropped black pants that I bought in the early 2000’s, an Alfani cotton shell (Macy’s),  and thrifted Liz Claibourn patterned pumps.

2 Rivers Africa sends a tote bag to keep the Kampala dust free. The added tote bag is pretty cool and even has a leather label and very neat logo. However, for the Kampala the tote bag is a tight fit. I think the tote may be fine for the other bags in 2 Rivers Africa’s line, but I will probably make another tote-type dust bag to house my bag.

My Kampala works just fine with a laid back country style. This look includes a Sun N’ Surf hat with a vintage silk Poodle scarf tied on for the band, thrifted distress jeans, thrifted lace navy top, and Candie flats from Kohls.

I am very happy with my choice of  purple. This particular purple is very soft and pairs well with grey, black, and denim. I’ve felt quite comfortable carrying it in different settings and occasions. Versatile and classic, for me the Kampala seems to easily work in styles ranging from business formal, casual, to dressed down.

Touring the Rightfully Sewn program (more about that at a later date) at Paseo Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. This time with my black Alvöru top, white DKNY jeans, the Clark sandals. I’m afraid I covered up the tassel with my own creation, a shibori silk scarf.

2 Rivers Africa’s Story

2 Rivers Africa’s name is taken from my hometown, Kansas City, where the Kansas and Missouri rivers meet. Via email, Christopher Varady co-founder of 2 Rivers informed me: “Kansas City’s geography echoes the Great Rift Valley in East Africa from where our products originate. Its residents also echo the products in that they value natural materials, craft and talent, handmade details, and high quality products at a reasonable price. These shared values form the foundation of our company’s mission.”

2 Rivers Africa’s leather gets it start on small Kenyan family farms raising native Rift Valley cattle. This appeals to me because we also have a small family farm (and raise a heritage breed of cattle, Red Poll). Traditions and ways of life of the farmers in the Rift Valley are respected and this includes using the entire animal, and ensuring that no part is wasted. 2 Rivers Africa aspires to pay the framers promptly and fairly.

Native Rift Valley Cattle

2 Rivers Africa attempt to minimize their environmental impact. Their tanneries comply with international standards to reduce chemicals in production and only use packaging materials that are reusable.

2 River Africa’s atelier on the outskirts of Nairobi

2 Rivers Africa value and respect the craft, skills, and ability of the laborers and craftspeople that create their products. They promote the work of women in all steps of the production and young people in building their skills and careers and ensure a fair and just working environment, fair market wages, and safety on the job.


2 Rivers Africa is committed to support healthier and more prosperous communities. They donate 5% of its profits to organizations in the Rift Valley who share this vision.



Not Just Bags

2 Rivers makes more than just women’s bags. I counted sixteen different items that they currently make, ranging from wallets, makeup bags, messenger bags, gym bags and iPad cases. I hope you check it out for yourself. Hmm….that Masai wallet seems simple and sleek…and my iPad cover is falling apart….

Readers can get a 5% discount (see below).


2 Rivers Africa’s leather is “unfinished”. Unfinished leathers don’t have a resin coating to make them water and stain proof. Unfinished leather is soft and natural-looking and can develop a beautiful patina with age but you must take care of it. With care, your unfinished leather can last a lifetime and become more beautiful with age.

It’s possible that I spend a little more time working on leather than most. I buy a lot of vintage bags and sometimes they need extra TLC. I’ll include a few leather care tips that may also be used with shoes and boots.

Caring For Your Leather Bag

  1. Keep your bag in in a dust bag. Usually, better bags come with their own dust bags. But sometimes, second hand bags have lost theirs and you can make one by sewing rectangles of cloth together or improvise with a pillowcase.
  2. Stuff your bag with bubble wrap and white tissue paper so it will hold its shape in storage. Don’t use printed newsprint because the ink may rub off on the interior of your bag.
  3. Occasionally dust and buff your bag with white cotton, flannel cloth. I use a 12 ounce Canton flannel shine cloth made for shining shoes. It’s soft, thick and may be folded to whatever size one needs.
  4. If you feel that your leather needs cleaning, only use special leather cleaning products. Household chemicals and cleaners should not be used. Please use only high quality cleaners, designed specifically for leather.
  5. Once leather has been cleaned, it is important to keep it conditioned. Conditioning the leather keeps it soft, supple, and reduces the risks of the leather cracking. First dab the leather conditioner to a soft cloth, and then apply evenly over the surface of the bag. Once a year should be enough.
  6. Don’t carry your item made with unfinished leather when it is raining. If you did get water on your bag, just let it dry naturally and don’t use a damp cloth on the unfinished leather.
  7. Most bags come with packets of Silica Gel. I leave the packets in the bags when not in use for just a little more preventive care against excess moisture.

There are so many different leather care products out there. From experience, I like Angelus leather products (links below).

Important Links For This Story

2 Rivers Africa online

2 Rivers Africa Facebook

2 Rivers Africa Instagram

Shoe Care Supplies (for all leather)

Angelus products on eBay

My Readers can have a discount on 2 Rivers Africa’s products.

I have discount code that will get you a 5% discount for any item on the 2 Rivers Africa’s shop. Enter the code MOF0105 at checkout.

That wraps it up for this week. Thank you for stopping by. I’ll have another blog bit next week. You are certainly welcome to leave a comment or two or three. I love to hear from you.

I link up with some great blogs every week. To see who they are go HERE.

Husband Michael gets credit for the photos of me. He also does some editing; if a male-type person can understand this stuff, then it may not completely be gibberish.

Again, thanks for stopping by. Take care……..


And don’t forget, the July 2nd Loved 1st Friday Linkup goes on until August 3rd.

Any post on a blog, Instagram, Facebook or the like can linkup to this style celebration. If you can copy and paste the URL in the Linky box, you are good to go!

One item is quite OK—a hat, skirt, pants, shoes, purse, or a piece of jewelry.  That item (or items) can be from a thrift shop, eBay, consignment shop, vintage boutique, one of the online consignment shops such as RealReal–or even something a friend gave you because they didn’t want it anymore.

When you do post, I would appreciate a description about your 2nd Loved item (or items), what type of shop you found it and what drew you to it. Tell as much or as little as you want. To be featured in my collage, which I will put on Instagram along with your links, you have to say what item is second loved. That is a “have to”.


If you have never participated in a linkup before, no fear. Go to Linkup 101 guide that is found on my 2nd Loved 1st Friday linkup page (also found at the top in the tab section).

Just click the frog below to link up and join the fun!

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14 thoughts on “The Kampala: A Well Connected Bag

    1. Thank you Patti, because I believe in stuff like this-as for many of Americans,I believe we want to be connected to other people in the world and this bag is a way for me to do that.


  1. Jodie, please check 2 Rivers out. There are now four KC Midwest based social conscience organizations that I am so proud of. 2 Rivers Africa is the newest, but after talking with Christopher and doing this article, I can tell you this is where I am going to spend my money.


    1. I have never been to Africa and love the idea of seeing the folks and the workshop where my bag was produced. I have another favorite non-profit based in the Mid West (Lawrence, KS) called Project Lydia. I need to do a piece about them down the road.

      Liked by 1 person

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