Monday, January 24, 2022

What is wrong with Made in Kenya?

I may be a student and you’re allowed to argue that I don’t know quite enough. But what in the world is wrong with products labelled “Made in Kenya”?


My bathroom is fully international. The plastic, the tiles, the ceiling… everything is proudly brand-named China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Germany. My knife, my spoons, my cups. Actually every utensil is imported. Even the towels come from China!  I feel guilty saying this. Is it because we can’t make these things locally? Or do we make them locally and tag them as made from other places? Do we fear stuff made in Kenya?

For one, whenever I shop I try to find things made in Kenya. I try to look for stuff that promotes my country. Things that make me feel proud. If I can’t find what I need from the Kenyan merchandise, I resort to the stuff made from African countries. But I rarely come across things tagged Kenya. I have wondered why this is the case for a long time now. Are our products inferior? Or is it because we’ve decided to be the dumping zones such that goods from the exterior are cheaper than our own?

Why can’t we promote our own? Do we not believe in Africa? In Kenya? Or have we lost hope for our country? Does the use of goods from USA, Germany etc. make us feel better or well-off? You feel rich using things from out-country?

I feel like there should be a legislation set up soon to ban the import of things that can be locally produced. It is a high time we get serious and promote our own industries if we sure want to become first world countries. We should not let other countries develop from importing our stuff then selling back to us. For example, I recently bought a screen protector for my phone only to realise that this is made in China from waste plastic! For real. And I paid 150 shillings for recycled waste!

How many times in a day do you use things made from other countries? Ask yourself this, can the stuff you use on a daily basis be made locally? And if so, think of what quality it would be, its pricing and the benefits that’d accrue from Kenya not importing, but rather exporting the same.

If we have a rule against importing of locally available material e.g. sugar and rice, our industries are bound to grow and sooner our products will be of high value and demand in other countries. Because of this, the country’s dependency will reduce and the economy will improve. We should not fear losing trading partners who are out to extort us by dumping things here.

Kenya needs to grow. Tourism, unfortunately, alone won’t lead us to realising our visions. Our Kenyan made products should be our pride. I hope the Nakumatt Blue Label packs Kenyan goods. The potential of growth if we invest on promoting our own home-made produce is unimaginable.


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Dickson Otieno
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