Shopping at Muthurwa Market

I love shopping, and when it comes at a bargain I am ready to laugh hysterically in glee, which I did when my friend made me discover Muthurwa Market!

A birds eye view of market

You see I had no idea you could shop at this market as I believed it was only for fruits and vegetables, but when I desperately needed a cheap suitcase for a travel themed party, Anna said she knew a ‘Hook-up”. If you know Anna you roll your eyes when she suggests a ‘hook up’ as they are as seedy as they come. I still remember ‘Mambo’ one of her dodgy DVD bootleggers who insisted on selling me the pirated products and when I didn’t slipped them into my bag anyway.

So I didn’t take her suggestion too seriously, and when we meandered dangerously through the roads and matatus at the entrance of the dusty Muthurwa Market, I wanted to drive back the other way.

However my previous experience with Toi Market had made me stop judging a book by its cover, and so with my ‘flatties’, raggedy clothing (necessary to prevent being conned out of a good bargain according to Ana) and the hugest apprehensive chip on my shoulder we parked the car and off we went.

I walked in trepidation as nearly everyone turned to stare at me wondering what I was doing there, and then they would spot Anna and beam their warm smiles at me.

Ana had warned me that however cheap anything was I had to make sure I haggled a better price than was on offer. So imagine my shock when a lovely shoe vendor offered me gorgeous Prada sandals for 500 Kshs/-, I thought I had struck gold but Ana frowned at him, berated him for trying to con me as I was a newbie and how would he feel if my non-existent children went hungry as I had paid this exorbitant price?

The poor man ummed and aahed and finally settled for 250/-.

I couldn’t believe the bargain I snagged and was beyond shocked at the cheap price- that is, until I came upon the ‘bag-lady’ who sold hand-bags for 200 Kshs as just like Ana she also had a ‘hook-up’.  45 year old Mary said she used to work as a tea lady in an office in town but the hours were tiring, demeaning and uneventful. When her cousin told her about a stall at the market, she immediately sprang at this opportunity and doesn’t regret it for a minute.

From Mary’s stall we headed to Nancy’s dress shack, another one of Ana’s hook-ups. Nancy wasn’t in but her dodgy brother was and he tried conning us out of a few shillings but a ‘model’ shopping there saved us and I bagged a lovely summery dress for 500 Kshs/-, much cheaper than Toi Market.

A little way from there and another dress stall caught my eye where the lovely girl sold us dresses for 400/- Kshs and I ululated when I bagged a lovely red dress for a mere 300/- Kshs.

I can’t deny the bargains are amazing and quite unbelievable but the chaos can deter one from venturing there alone.

For a market that cost Sh700 million to build, I have to say I was rather disappointed at the infrastructure. The plan had included a 24-hour market with basic facilities like water, restrooms, lighting, a hospital, a police station, multi-storied stalls, a banking hall and an administration office. I mean I hadn’t expected a mall, but I have been rather spoilt with the somewhat cleanliness of Toi Market.

I saw nothing resembling the grandiose plans. Instead  Muthurwa Market to me, was a crowded mess of matatus jostling for a place to park, dusty and muddy roads, burst sewers, pickpockets (which Ana’s street smartness saved me from)and lack of clean water for the hawkers contribute to the stinky chaos that has become tantamount with the market.

And most of the Hawkers agree, a hawker who preferred to be unnamed was thankful for the opportunity to conduct her business, but being a food kiosk owner she bemoaned the lack of clean water to cook and clean her ingredients.

Same went for ‘Kipande’ who owned a lovely shoe stall for men. “I am happy that the government tried to help us by settoing this market up but what next? We have no clean bathrooms, the dust and troublesome characters can be exhausting”.

At the end if you are brave enough to truly rough it out then I urge you to check it out for the unbelievable deals, but like I have mentioned make sure you don your street smartness, covered shoes and happy pills for a unique shopping experience.

 PUB in The Star September 25th 2011

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