When it comes to buying kikois however I am not as versed as Jeff, so I defaulted to him for pricing and here is what I learned: kikoi prices are based primarily on two factors, those being weight and manufacture quality (imported or locally manufactured). The local wauuza usually make weekly trips to Mombasa to pick their wares to sell at local markets and usually surcharge a bit to compensate. This is usually understandable, considering many locals cannot make it up to Mombasa anyways to sell, and the premium is usually less than transport cost to Mombasa. However, the quality is usually also a little lower, though still acceptable. The selection included about 10 or so different patterns, of lightweight quality and manufactured overseas. You can tell foreign manufacturing by the way the end tassels are pre-spun and pre-tied. If you purchase a locally manufactured kikoi, oftentimes you need to spin and tie your own tassels (a cultural tradition but of what origin and purpose we do not know). I was able to pick up two for decent prices, but will probably end up going to Mombasa for a few more. Mombasa is the kikoi and kangaa capital of Kenya it seems.
For those wondering what a kikoi is, it’s the Kenyan male equivalent of the universal sarong. Many cultures that I know of living in hot areas (and even those living in cool areas), have some form of cloth that is wrapped around the waist and worn just like that. In Kenya, particularly amongst the Swahili people, it is traditionally worn by men around their houses before and after work. Women are always wearing sarongs (called kangaa in Swahili) and other fabric wraps of varying types, but for men, traditionally it is worn simply around the waste. Kikoi are a much more comfortable solution to clothing than traditional western clothing in this heat and when still needing to do work around the house. For all of you thinking it, I will confirm: yes, I now wear a man-skirt around my house. Living the life.
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