Swahili in Kenya

Food Shopping

An open market

Much of the weekly shopping in Kenya takes place at the open markets. In the country, each village and town has a particular day when vendors travel great distances to sell not only all types of food, but all sorts of merchandise, including clothing, shoes, furnishings, handcrafts and even dogs that farmers buy to tend cattle and sheep. Market day starts at dawn and goes until 6:00 or 7:00 p.m.; however, women begin to leave as early as the beginning of the afternoon in order to get home to begin cooking. The already competitive prices get even more competitive early in the afternoon.

In the cities, there is a daily market that takes place in the formal marketplace. City dwellers start arriving as early as 5:00 a.m. to buy products which vendors bring in from the country. Some vendors buy generously at the city markets in order to mark up merchandise and re-sell it at shops in the suburbs. In Nairobi, one is advised to go to the City Market for chicken, meat and lamb. The Maasai Market is highly recommended for those interested in antiques, handcrafts and jewelry. One will also find flea markets in the suburbs and the famous Indian Market in the suburb of Nairobi.

Supermarkets and malls are also a part of shopping life in Kenya and are generally found in the cities and certain affluent city suburbs. Supermarkets provide the standard array of fresh and canned foods; frozen foods are not popular. Convenience stores tend to be fairly expensive and are found predominantly in the suburbs. For small needs, kiosks are stands found on city streets where only household staples are sold, as well as wrapped fresh food sold to workers at lunchtime in the industrial parts of the cities.