Places, The People



Gakoromone Market. When you hear about the market what do you think about? Gikomba? Toy? Ngara? Gakoromone is the Gikomba,Toy and Ngara market of Meru town. I have always been intrigued by Gakoromone. Mostly because a lot of comedians use it and other people ask questions and make it sound like a place far away in a forgotten desert . I have always wanted to go to Gakoromone Market like a businessman would, not as a buyer. Traders to Gakoromone market come from the vast Meru County. Kibirichia, Nkubu, Githongo, Kithoka, Ruiri, Nchiru…basically everywhere. There are all kinds of people in this market. The sellers are mostly Meru or at least those that live in Meru. The buyers are from all walks of life Merus, Kikuyus, Luos, Kambas, Whites, Indians all types of people go to Gakoromone market.

It’s a vast market and it’s neatly tucked away from the Central Business District of Meru. Yes there is a CBD in Meru. Friday morning 06:32am I received a call from a trader I had asked if I could accompany to Gakoromone Market. She said I should hurry because the best traders arrive at 05:00am. 07:00am found us at Gakoromone market and there was a million people. I felt like I had not woken up entirely but here I was amongst cheery business people ready to make money.

Gakoromone market is noisy like all markets. Not noisy because everyone is trying to outshout the other. Not noisy because there is a lot of haggling going on. A boda boda passes by every few minutes dropping products. Every trader is focused on what brought them to the market. My friend had come to buy potatoes and second hand dresses for sale so I meekly walked beside her until I decided I was not a calf anymore and branched off promising to call her in less than half an hour. Just like every market Gakoromone Market has sections. There is a section for fruits, vegetables, dry foods and all edibles. This section is fenced off. Then there is a section for clothes, shoes and everything else. It’s the larger area surrounding the fenced off area.

I walked around the market for more than half an hour and no one called me to buy. No one coerced me. The Meru trader doesn’t heckle you. Apart from the occasional “ninunulie mami, nitakuongezea”, everyone sat watching everyone else doing their business. The Meru trader is assured of his/her products. The products will just sell themselves and they do. I saw how the bananas sat with the yellow undertones like a girl after she has finished doing her makeup and is waiting for a cab. The hohos waited on like karate trainees on the first day of class. They were clean, with a sheen that oozed class. They were in no rush to go anywhere. The potatoes were as majestic as an elephants foot. Big and bossy. The green maize looked dry and tired until you undressed the first coat, to reveal inviting green leaves with a promise inside. Onions looked bored and thirsty.I left with a bunch of arrow roots and a few bananas.

A little later my trader friend called me and we walked to the second hand clothes section. There weren’t many people. Everyone looked like they were not just browsing but picking a specific item and even my friend went to a specific stand. At the stand she apologized and then the seller opened his bail. He had cute dresses. No hot dresses. He selected the best for my friend and placed on her lap while throwing the rest in the “others” bundle where everyone picked from. It looked like a scene from that bible story where beggars sit under the table eating crumbs as kings and queens eat the best. I later asked her what was that all about and she casually mentioned they have a standing deal that  if she needed anything she would order and then be there by a certain hour and he doesn’t open that bail until she is there.She tips him a little more but she gets the best. A dress was going for, at most, Ksh 300. For my friend it was Ksh 200. After we were done he started shouting “Dress camera, camera!” As we were leaving it dawned on me every market has a cartel and operates on its own rules.  Oh of course I bought a dress. Nothing can beat a Ksh 300 dress.


As we walked between traders there was the random city council officer in the unmistakable yellow coat. Are all City council officials in Kenya given a dress code? That yellow is sour to the eye sometimes. Back as we walked out there was a van playing loud mugithi and a few traders were getting down to the current hit “thii ukiumaga.

Market days are Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Friday is the best, everyone shows up.