Maasai Market Days in Nairobi – artefacts and souvenirs
When one goes for a safari, it is worth buying some memorabilia to remind them of the awesome experience. Well, Kenya has such a market where you can buy beaded jewellery, artefacts, handicrafts, clothes and shoes made from African fabrics, carvings, utensils, handbags etc. The market referred to as Masai Market has specific days it operates in Nairobi. The Maasai Market days in Nairobi can vary during different seasons, most are not permanent.
The name came from the Maasai Tribe who are very popular for their rich culture and their firm beliefs and traditions. The Maasai live near most wildlife reserves and are very crafty producing hand-made artefacts. Once they realized the tourists love their crafts, they started making them for trade. They would bring them to Nairobi due to demand and that is how Maasai Market was formed.
The market has grown and now incorporates handicrafts made by other tribes. This includes beaded work from the Samburus and Turkanas, the kanga fabrics from the Coast, the soapstone and carvings from the Kisii etc.
Monday: No market
Tuesday: In the City Centre, Kijabe Street park next to the Nairobi river(behind textbook centre) and Prestige Plaza, Rooftop Parking along Ngong Road.
Wednesday: Capital Centre on Mombasa Road on your way to the airport.
Thursday: The Junction Mall, 3rd-floor parking along Ngong Road.
Friday: The Village Market, upper parking along Limuru road and Lavington Mall along James Gichuru Road.
Saturday: At the City Centre, Supreme Court parking opposite Re-Insurance Plaza and at Adams Arcade along Ngong Road.
Sunday: Yaya Centre along Argwings Kodhek Road past Hurlingham.
Tips on Getting Value for your money
- Always use the local currency i.e Kenya shillings in your purchases. If possible break the notes into smaller denominations.
- There are so many middlemen in these markets, avoid them at all costs. Choose to trade with the actual seller. If you are not so confident attending this market look for a trustworthy guide to take you through and help you bargain.
- The price of the commodities is not always fixed. There is always room for bargaining until the seller gets to their limit.
- In most markets, there are a number of sellers with the same commodities. Hence you can go round first and access for a seller giving you the best deal.
- Engage the sellers and find out how the wares are made. This will help you determine the price value and avoid being ripped off.
- If you intend to buy in bulk or you want many items, consider the markets at the City Center rather than the shopping malls. They have more variety and better prices (wholesale price).
- If you are going as a group, stick together and don’t let the brokers confuse you and split your group.
- Stick to paying the actual seller once you identify them. Do not make a mistake of giving your money to the middlemen to buy for you.
Pros and Cons of this market
Many tourists have had varying experiences in this market, some good others bad. The markets can get a bit crowded and the sellers are aggressive to a point of becoming a nuisance. Below are the Pros and Cons of the market.
- If lucky enough, you can get good art pieces at a very low price that can be of great value to your home decor.
- The market is a good place to get unique gifts for your loved ones.
- You get to interact with the locals and learn more about their cultures as well as taking a piece of this culture with you.
- The markets have so many middlemen who can be a nuisance and can cause you not to get a good deal.
- If you are not good at bargaining or don’t do well in crowded markets, then you will have a rough time.
- Most sellers, especially in the shopping malls, sell the same items and their spaces are small compared to the open markets in the City Center.
- If you don’t understand the currency, it’s easy to get ripped off into buying a valueless commodity at an exorbitant price.
Other places to get these items if you can’t make for the markets days.
Well, the artefacts and other hands made jewellery are not only available in the Nairobi market but are available in other places countrywide. As earlier stated, most of the communities that make this item live near game parks and reserves. Hence, you can not miss small shops selling the wares around National Parks or tourist attraction sites.
The prices for the items in the small shops are almost the same if not better than the Nairobi Market. The beauty of buying from these small traders is that the money goes back to their pockets. Most of these small shops make the wares themselves.
There are also several shops within Nairobi which sell these commodities though most of them have fixed prices and are a bit pricey as compared to the market prices.
One of the most common shops is found at City Market along Muindi Mbingu Street in the Central Business District (CBD). They do have quite a variety of items though their prices are high. The Best thing about City Market is that they are genuine products. They are very patient with you, unlike the Maasai Market. If you can’t handle the crowd in the Maasai market, then City Market would be a good alternative.
Have you ever been to any of these Maasai markets? Share your experience or thoughts on the same below.