THE MAASAI MARKETS

I consider the Maasai people to have an impressive taste and talent.

I guess I always looked up to their creations since mom and dad traveled to both Tanzania and Kenya some 26 years ago and brought back wooden face masks we have hanged on our living room wall, a mini sculpture of a Maasai man staring over our couch and loads of jewellery – some of which I wear today, almost 3 decades later.

When you first walk into their markets, you get kind of confused from all the different designs and colours thrown at you. Shops within the market are situated side by side with the owners wandering around and always putting LOADS of effort into convincing you that their shop is the best (despite the fact that you pretty much find similar things in all of them) and that it is totally worth you giving it a visit; I often felt as though it was seen as an honour for them to have visitors from the West in their shops. After all, white is a symbol of privilege in Tanzania (and generally the continent I would imagine).

I probably spent hours and hours looking at these artists’ works which are mostly created with metal, copper the majority of times, beads and wood. Their crafts range from beautiful canvases of Mt Kili, Maasai settlements and Safari to all sorts of jewellery made of metal and beads (I swear they have beads in ANY colour you can imagine) and to different sculptures of people and animals made of dark smoked wood. There is also a great variety in beaded flip flops, kitchen utensils and general house décor.

I think the most uncomfortable thing was that I had to bargain about the price of goods simply because I knew that the price I was given was a rip-off; all white people are thought to be really wealthy by the locals. I hate bargaining. Absolutely despise it. And being the daughter of a former grocery shop owner I know what it running your own business and trying to keep on top of the profit means. Nevertheless, I think I was excused taking in consideration that I was once asked to pay $30 for a stick of Acacia wood with a couple of beads on it haha!

Overall, the experience of the markets is unique and exciting. Totally worth visiting if you are ever planning on visiting the country!

*Photo taken from HipAfrica

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