Art & Culture

From Kitenge to Khanga on Gaborone Road

For the true khanga-khannoisseur

From kitenges to khangas, these brightly colored prints are an inescapable part of the kaleidoscope of patterns that make up daily life in Nairobi. They’re perfect for adding an expressive flourish to anything from your favorite formal-wear to your coziest couch. 

Sure, there’s no shortage of ready-made selections at your average neighborhood retail outlet and even the periodic ‘maasai markets’ that dot the city. But where can you find a wide range of traditional fabric options at a fair price point?

Where to Buy

Biashara Street in town is a reasonable place to start, especially if you’re in a hurry. A handful of well-organized shops have more than enough choices to spark your imagination and get you started on your hunt. One bonus here is the variety of fabric styles, including woven kikois and even Maasai-style shukas.  

Nairobi Textile Center on Gaborone Road is also a can’t-miss. Dozens of stalls crowd this multi-story structure with folded lengths of cloth piled to the ceilings. Nearly every region and style of wax print are represented, from the muted tones of the ‘java’ school to the more vibrant West African Ankara varieties. 

What to Pay

Prices tend to be cheaper around Gaborone Road. Expect to pay 1,500KSH for a well-made, standard 6-yard (5.5-metre) measure. Cheaper options range from 850KSH at the low-end to 1,200 at the middle. If you can’t handle the hustle and bustle of the main market, the smaller shops that dot Gaborone Road at street-level might offer a more quiet browsing environment. If you’re not ready to shell out for an entire 6-yard-length of kitenge, why not go for a single or double khanga instead? 

The best part about shopping here is that you don’t have to leave the area to get your newly bought fabric fashioned into its final form. Multiple tailors have set up shop at the ground-level to do that job for you. 

Remember to always let your true colors shine, and happy hunting!

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