Kigali is really going to teach me how to plan, budget and shop ahead. Unlike in the past where I would bump into vegetable sellers in every corner, in Kigali I have to embark on a whole journey before I find a grocery stall. You must really look to find one because groceries are not sold everywhere (by the roadsides) like in Kampala or Nairobi. I miss the small tables and stalls laden with tomatoes and onions that I was used to seeing near my house. I’m now beginning to wonder whether I live on the right or wrong side of the city.
The other day I took a trip to town with a colleague and when we were done I asked her to take me to a market to buy some groceries. She led me to a huge building which in Kampala or Nairobi would probably be referred to as a plaza and insisted that that was the market. I cannot remember how many times I asked if she understood what I was looking for. She took me by the hand and guided me into the building. At the entrance we underwent the usual security procedure of bags being checked and us receiving free ‘massages’. On entering the building you’re first met by small kiosks (shops that sell household items) which I was informed are referred to as boutiques. Where I come from, boutiques would refer to shops that sell clothes, bags, shoes, cosmetics and etcetera.
Anyway, we left the line of shops and walked up a staircase in this building called Kigali City Market. It is a storied building where one will find everything they require for home use from dry grains to flour, and fruits to vegetables. The ‘market’ is clean, with tiled floors and ATM booths. While I was very impressed by this market, I am still not convinced that there is no open market where I can pick Sukuma wiki on my way home from work. At times I get irritated because going far to shop for groceries means I have to buy more than I need, if only to spare myself another trip to the market. I am told a few other places have similar buildings for markets and one is under construction in Kicukiro near my home.
Do I enjoy this orderliness? I wish I could say absolutely, but I miss picking my two or three tomatoes on the way home. I miss having random conversations with the vegetable sellers or stopping by the roadside butchery to buy meat. Speaking of meat, in Kigali, you either buy your meat from a supermarket or go to the ‘market place’ for meat. Guess I still have a lot of adapting to do and I’m sure it will take me some time to get used to the Kigali grocery shopping situation.
Follow Jackie on Twitter