Determination – Nakuru, Masai Market

After spending six weeks in Nakuru, I appreciated the marketing skills that were displayed by the Kenyan entrepreneurs as they battle to make money and feed their families. Everyday I watched as people never gave up on the hope of a better tomorrow; this was evident as I saw stalls being opened-up everyday. Initially everything in me wanted to avoid the market; as I disliked being pulled from one stall to the other, but in time friendships were formed allowing me to listen to their stories and dreams. “Sister from another mother”, was the slogan of the day as I passed by the market and others got to know my name. All I saw in the market place was different people who had chosen to work together. Regardless of which stall you approached you will be guaranteed a service with a smile. These markets ensured that my negotiating skills would be methodically put to test; this was the only time I had to use the phrase “hakuna bei namuzungu”. The market traders looked after each other’s stall if the other was absent; this was all built on trust and respect.

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In particular Tameka and I struck up a friendship with a woman called Susan; she helped us negotiate and made sure that we had everything that we needed. As the days dragged by I sometimes found myself sitting by Susan’s stall and holding insightful conversations about some local beliefs with the surrounding market traders. I remember the man who sold ties, hats and bookmakers; he explained to me that a drunkard will never be able to keep a woman as she will sneak out and see another man who can remain sober. Laughing out loud, I realised how important it is to stop and listen to people’s narratives.

To sum it all up “Nakuru 2013” was an experience I will never trade for anything. There were times I was uncomfortable and missed home comforts terribly, but I reminded myself why I was in Kenya initially. Seeing everyone trying to make it reminded me of the constant struggles the world as a whole face; people doing different jobs to provide for their families. The geographical and physical dynamics may be different but the goal remains the same which is working together for the greater good of our families. Balloon Kenya, a social enterprise has a place in Nakuru and the world, a training programme that also aims to connect ‘high risk individuals’ with credit can help reduce poverty in certain parts of the world.

Sometimes it is not enough to have an idea if you do not have the means to bring your idea into life. Determination was what I saw in the market traders and mostly it pays off; I’m a prime example, I came home with a hoard of earrings and souvenirs, despite my earlier objections to buying them!

Written by Marceline Mutikori, 2013 Fellow

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