11 Things You Can Only Buy in Kenya

Beautiful Kenyan buys
Beautiful Kenyan buys | © travelholic path / Flickr
Nandika Macharia

Uniqueness is a gift that everyone possesses. It also exists in every culture and country. The significance of our distinct qualities comes to the fore when we are placed on the global platform. Kenya is a shopper’s paradise when it comes to finding unique items and souvenirs. With over 43 tribes, the amount of ingenious creativity and originality is mind-boggling. Read on to see what unique hidden treasures Kenya have in store for visitors.

1. Kisii Soapstone Carvings

Art Gallery

Kisii soapstone
© Bob Keefer / Flickr

Soapstone can be found in the western highlands of the country. To be specific, it is native to Kisii county’s Tabaka region. Craftsmen in the region have perfected the art of capturing animals and plants on these pieces of stone. The natural colors of the stone accentuate the beauty of the carvings.

2. Kazuri Beads

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Kazuri Beads
© Class V / Flickr

Kazuri beads are sourced from the Maasai people and are used to create colorful neckpieces, bracelets, and earrings. The beads have become a distinct part of the tourism package in Kenya. They use colors that have special meaning to them, like red, which symbolizes blood, courage, and power, and green for prosperity.

3. Ebony carvings

Art Gallery

Ebony carvings
© William Warby / Flickr

Ebony carvings are usually the work of Akamba wood sculptors. Ebony is prevalent in the eastern region of Kenya, which is home to the Kamba community. Their work is so prolific that it is distinct in the whole sub-Saharan region. While they are easy to find in souvenir shops in Kenya, they are as prevalent all over the world. Their finish is glossy and flawless.

4. Kitengela Glass

Art Gallery

Kitengela glass
© Christine Und Hagen Graf / Flickr

This is recycled glass that has been hand blown to make decorative home accessories, jewelry, and stained glass for windows. The glass is crafted by disabled artisans who make their living creating these objects. Their work is on display along the pathways and on the grounds, enticing you even before you enter the main studio for some shopping.

5. Maasai Blankets

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Maasai Blanket
© Jennifer Wu / Flickr

Traditional Maasai blankets are made from soft cotton or wool and are perfect for the cold weather. They are usually dyed red and may have another color mixed in as well. Buy the blankets from the Maasai to get the authentic woven blanket.

6. Sweet Traditional Wine

Wine Seller, African

Muratina tree
© Leonora (Ellie) Enking / Flickr

The national beer is the famous Tusker larger. However, there are traditional brews that are specific to different tribes. The muratina is one of the popular local beers from the Kikuyu community. It is a homemade beer and has a distinctly fruity flavor. You can also try a homemade liqueur known as chang’aa. It is the local moonshine and is very much like vodka. They ensure that the alcohol is brewed in a homestead for family consumption and not the one found in drinking dens.

7. Masks

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© Angelo Juan Ramos / Flickr

Kenyan masks are primarily for aesthetic purposes. Unlike other African cultures that attach religious significance to a mask, the wooden masks in craft shops in Kenya are just souvenirs to remind you of the country. The wood used is locally grown and sourced sustainably.

8. Kenyan Art

Art Gallery

© Joanna Kosinska / Unsplash

Kenyan art comes from all corners of the country. It can be general or specific to the region or to the tribes. Art from the Samburu tribe is different from art from the MijiKenda tribe on the coast. To get authentic pieces, it is best to buy from the actual communities.

9. Maasai Shields

Art Gallery

Maasai Shiled
© John Atherton / Flickr

These shields are painstakingly made using impeccably cured hide, which is then painted with basic designs. They are heavy and bulky but you can have them created in pieces for ease of carriage and you can reconstitute the pieces at home.

10. Maasai Spears

Art Gallery

Maasai spear
© David Berkowitz / Flickr
Maasai spears mean a lot to the community. A spear is usually embedded outside the moran’s home to signify his presence in the home, as well as being a weapon of choice. Being a weapon, ensure that you carry it safely, keeping the different pieces separate during your travels.

11. Baskets

Art Gallery

© Elvert Barnes / Flickr

Handwoven baskets from the Kamba community are beautiful and come in a myriad of colors. They are made from the sisal plant and are used for everything from grocery shopping to being a fashion piece. They can have leather straps attached or may be dyed before being woven. The inside is fitted with a fabric lining to make it easy to carry essentials.

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