By Coletta Wanjohi
Kenya's Maasai market, an open-air marketplace situated in the downtown capital Nairobi, is widely known for its dynamic selection of products made by the nomadic Maasai community, including wooden sculptures, beaded necklaces and batik wall hanging that frequently appeal to both local and international visitors. It is only open on weekends.
Due to pandemic-related shocks, the Maasai market, which previously depended largely on foreign tourists for its vibrancy, now sells its products to local traders at a reduced price.
Nkerandu Ene Tarimia is one of the regular sellers at the Maasai Market. She specialises in ornaments made from beads. The beadwork is associated with the Maasai tribe, a Nilotic ethnic group in northern, central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania.
Tarimia, also known as Mama Nancy, says the beads jewellery is all hand-made by herself, a skill she learnt from her mother. She is now passing it on to her daughter. In Kenya, preference of ornaments made from the Maasai designs is growing among women of all ages.
Vendors who cannot make the bead products themselves buy ready-made ornaments and resell them.
Some vendors make ornaments from brass and cow horns.
Locally made clothes, some promoting the 'Africa' images are common in the market. Some buyers purchase them in bulk for export.
The market has become a space that offers both local and international artists to display and sell their African-themed artwork.
Makers of handicrafts and artifacts are always creating new designs to beat the competition.