01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Expat Stereotypes - the Nairobi Craft Fair 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Expat Stereotypes - the Nairobi Craft Fair

Leonie has booked a stand at this year’s smart Nairobi craft market. She is now on absolute non speakers with the organiser, Beth after the former refused to give Leonie a discount on the astronomical price of hiring the tent space for the weekend. This was particularly galling as they even go to the same book club! Beth had been unbending three months ago when she said, as her pencil hovered over her clipboard poised to mark a tick or a cross;
‘Business is business and there are many others who will take the tent if you don’t.’
she went on;
‘After all Kate at Safari Bead and Geoff at Canvas Safari Essentials have both been begging for space for months and I am struggling to find room for them! As it is they’ll have to be squeezed in next to the port-a-loos and I know they are not going to be happy.’

Leonie had put together a stylish selection of some wrought iron loo roll holders decorated with metal painted flowers, very chic full skirts made of local African kanga fabric and white washed wooden candle holders. Most prices were around the 10,000 Kenya shillings (£80) mark. She was a bit cheaper last year, but decided to bump everything up when she saw that Sarah in the next door tent was charging exorbitant prices for her home furnishings that were actually made by the same side of the road tailor that Leonie used.

There was some kafuffle on the entrance gate when an outgoing shopper wearing a floral smock and Jesus sandals was complaining that there were in fact no local crafts at the craft market. Apparently she had had her heart set on finding affordable Christmas presents but had spectacularly failed to buy a thing. She even had the impertinence to enquire if any of the entrance money charged was going to be donated to a charitable cause.

Leonie’s stall was hectic, but mostly due to the traffic of friends stopping by to deliver cappuccinos and gin and tonics then lounge on chairs inside the tent gossiping endlessly about the other stall holders and which white Kenyans had deigned to come down from ‘up-country’ for the weekend. One mealy faced customer asked about the price of a toilet roll holder, but Leonie was too busy trying to catch the eye of a passing glamorous white Kenyan TV presenter and conservationist to respond. She always did think price tags so vulgar but on the other hand hated being interrupted by strangers.

At the end of the fair, Leonie was scratchy and exhausted after being on her feet all day in a baking tent that was un-shaded from the harsh Africa sun. She made a point of telling Beth that her tent had been like an oven, the new venue was not nearly as good as last years and she had heard from customers that the parking situation outside had been diabolical. Having just broken even by selling three skirts and a handful of candlesticks, Leonie swore that she would never do ‘BizBaz’ again but then remembered that she had said the same last year when rainwater had poured down the inside wall of her tent. At least the weather over the sale weekend had stayed dry; however the atmosphere at book club was going to remain distinctly frosty.

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