Bringing "gifts" to and "trading" in East Africa

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May 2nd, 1999, 02:54 PM
  #1
Betty
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Bringing "gifts" to and "trading" in East Africa

I am traveling to Kenya in September. Several years ago, I read somewhere that the the native Africans really like to receive new T-shirts with American type logos printed on them as "gifts". Is this still the case? Also, I understand that one can sometimes "trade" for handmade objects such as spears or crafts etc. Are there specific western things that the locals particularly like that would be good for trading? Is it better to refrain from spoiling the culture with such things as logo shirts, etc.? Thanks for your advice and opinions.
 
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May 3rd, 1999, 10:35 AM
  #2
Myriam
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Betty,
Children will ask you for pens and bonbons (candy). They are also very glad with the soaps, shampoos etc. that your hotel provides you with.

Trading for handmade objects is indeed very common. You pay partly in money, partly in western objects like T-shirts, baseball caps, sports shoes, branded socks, etc. These things do not have to be new (though clean of course).

You will get lots of addresses everywhere you come and people will ask you to send them things from your country. I however doubt that these things will ever reach the people they are meant for.

Kenya is great, we have been there in September 1996 and we left a piece of heart there.
 
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May 5th, 1999, 03:48 PM
  #3
Bly
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Betty - I think it really depends on where you're going. We were in Kenya and Tanzania last month - people in the outlying areas were more amiable to exchanging gifts, but in the city - Mombasa, Nairobi they want the cold hard cash. Those that would exchange for something in the city generally wanted money as well. Check prices in your hotel gift shop first and bargain accordingly. While we did bring some pens - Bic ballpoints for the kids, there is also the theory that Westerners shouldn't constantly give stuff away because it promotes a begging mentality among the children. Too late in most cases... You can e-mail me if you want some more info. b
 
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May 10th, 1999, 04:24 AM
  #4
TC
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Betty; We were in Kenya and Tanzania January 1999. I too had heard about trading US objects, so brought lots of pens, pencils, baseball caps, ribbon, etc. I was severly scolded by our driver for giving pens & pencils to the children. He tells that they sharpen the ends and use them as weapons against each other and he also scolded the children for begging. I was told that the only acceptable way to donated such items was through a school or mission. Donations to schools are greatfully appreciated. As far as trading for gift items, you will find that the prices are the same with or without the trade. Several times the "do you have something to trade" routine was used as a ploy to hook us into buying and thinking it was a great deal. It wasn't. The one thing that is acceptable is giving US shirts or hats to your driver as a gift (along with the usual tip). All the drivers seemed to be proud of their US hats. If you would like my entire list of do's and don't, just email to me.
 
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May 10th, 1999, 04:26 AM
  #5
TC
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Betty; We were in Kenya and Tanzania January 1999. I too had heard about trading US objects, so brought lots of pens, pencils, baseball caps, ribbon, etc. I was severly scolded by our driver for giving pens & pencils to the children. He tells that they sharpen the ends and use them as weapons against each other and he also scolded the children for begging. I was told that the only acceptable way to donated such items was through a school or mission. Donations to schools are greatfully appreciated. As far as trading for gift items, you will find that the prices are the same with or without the trade. Several times the "do you have something to trade" routine was used as a ploy to hook us into buying and thinking it was a great deal. It wasn't. The one thing that is acceptable is giving US shirts or hats to your driver as a gift (along with the usual tip). All the drivers seemed to be proud of their US hats. If you would like my entire list of do's and don't, just email to me.
 
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May 10th, 1999, 04:27 AM
  #6
TC
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Betty; We were in Kenya and Tanzania January 1999. I too had heard about trading US objects, so brought lots of pens, pencils, baseball caps, ribbon, etc. I was severly scolded by our driver for giving pens & pencils to the children. He tells that they sharpen the ends and use them as weapons against each other and he also scolded the children for begging. I was told that the only acceptable way to donated such items was through a school or mission. Donations to schools are greatfully appreciated. As far as trading for gift items, you will find that the prices are the same with or without the trade. Several times the "do you have something to trade" routine was used as a ploy to hook us into buying and thinking it was a great deal. It wasn't. The one thing that is acceptable is giving US shirts or hats to your driver as a gift (along with the usual tip). All the drivers seemed to be proud of their US hats. If you would like my entire list of do's and don't, just email to me.
 
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