Wednesday, Mar. 24, 2010

The Kikoi

Nairobi's souvenirs are some of the worst in the world. Identikit soapstone chess sets, lurid malachite hippo sculptures, mass-produced batik paintings, almost none genuinely African and almost all sold by some of the pushiest salesmen this side of Marrakech. Save yourself the hassle — and years wondering where to hide that giant giraffe carving — by shunning the tourist tack and picking up a genuine Kenyan art form: the kikoi. The kikoi originates from the Indian Ocean coast and is a cotton sarong, traditionally worn by men but fine for women too, available in a thousand different patterns and decorated with playful tassels. Cool, comfortable and the perfect beach accessory, good quality kikoi can be found at the haberdashery shops on Biashara Street or, if you fancy kikoi-inspired bedspreads or baby clothes, try AA Kenya and Veritas at the Village Market mall in Gigiri, A decent kikoi should cost around $4 to $5.