Planning to shop on Nairobi streets? Here are the rules

You have to be ready to sprint away immediately you spot oncoming kanjo, otherwise you might just end up in one of those rickety vans.

When I completed college and got my first job as a dental assistant earning Sh3, 000 a month, I quickly realised that the money, (the most I’d ever touched or held at that point in my life) could not afford me new clothes or shoes.

Or anything new for that matter, so I became a monthly visitor in the back streets of Nairobi’s CBD, where secondhand clothes and other previously owned items are sold.

That period taught me many dos and don’ts regarding secondhand items, the first, and most important, being never buy in the evening. It is true what they say about things, (and people) looking more attractive than they really are in poor lighting.

And you all know how poorly lit our streets are. In the case of secondhand clothes, you will not really be able to tell the exact colour of, say, a jacket, at 7.35pm on Tom Mboya Street, as a result, in the morning you will realise that you are the proud owner of a grossly faded red jacket when what you thought you were buying was a pink one to go with that black skirt that you love so much.

Wear and tear

Another reason not to buy in the evening is the fact that you may not realise that what you’re buying may be coming off at the seams, or that the trendy patch sewn where your knees will occupy is hiding serious wear and tear.

Shopping off the streets is also akin to courting danger. Danger in the form of city council askaris, better known as kanjo. These people have a habit of

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