This morning’s email turned up the following request for African tribal print upholstery fabrics in Kenya:
Soon, I will be visiting Kenya and would like to purchase some heavy duty upholstery fabric with African tribal patterns. I only have one day spare to do this so was wondering if you could narrow it down for me on places to go. I have looked at your recommendations from your site, however I won’t have time to visit them all.
This query about African tribal print upholstery fabrics for home decorating brings with it an opportunity to talk about a new development. According to Standard Digital News, the Kenya government is determined to revive the ailing Rivatex textile manufacturing plant in Eldoret.
I believe Kenyans already benefit from this long-overdue initiative to revitalize textile and apparel industries within the country. Far too long, Kenyans have been subjected to recycling the rest of the world’s seconds and second-hand products. This is true not only for textiles and apparel, but for far too many other products as well.
Shopping recently for upholstery and window treatment fabrics, I thought to make the safari from Karen to the Tile and Carpet Center (TACC) on the Mombasa Road. TACC stocks a lot of “cheap Chinese” fabrics. I was less than enthusiastic to go there after a recent bad experience with their outlet on James Gichuru Road in Lavington. Nevertheless, the Mombasa TACC shop houses one of the largest collections of upholstery and window treatment fabrics in the country.
On the way down Langata Road, I remembered the big Nakumatt Mega shop which was between me and TACC. That Nakumatt shop also has a fabrics department. It has been many years since I last shopped there, so I decided to go there instead.
An hour later I found myself at the Wilson Airport round-about. I knew in my heart that whatever I expected to find on Mombasa Road was something I could, and would, live without. Nairobi traffic makes shopping for whatever you need within a radius of about 5 kilometers of your own neighborhood the only sane way to live!
I turned at the round-about and headed for Hurlingham. From there, I continued out the Ngong Road, taking care of other errands instead of shopping for fabric, disappointed but not yet defeated.
The next morning I made the 15-minute drive to the Galleria shopping mall. The Nakumatt Galleria shop there has a small home decorating fabrics section.
As I approached that area of the shop, one bolt of fabric seemed to light up in anticipation of my approach. You know how that feels? It was perfect for what I needed!
Within another 15 minutes, I had 17 meters of cloth for new slipcovers, at a VERY reasonable price, and was headed out the door. That experience left me with plenty of time to relax and enjoy the rest of the day without fighting traffic!
What has this to do with Kenya’s national policies regarding the textile industries here? Well, taking the chance that I am mistaken, I believe the fabrics carried by Nakumatt come from the Rivatex factory!
I have not seen these African tribal print upholstery fabrics for many years, but they are distinctive and easily recognizable. Indeed, there’s at least one room in our home that has curtains made from Rivatex fabrics in the old days–faded but still strong and durable after at least 30 years!
This government initiative to revive Rivatex signals a growing awareness that there is BIG money to be generated and made here at home. The textiles and apparel industry is, I believe, one of the largest industries in the world. Just think of all the people employed in fiber growth and production, spinning, dyeing, weaving, sewing, distribution, marketing and sales!
It’s about time Kenya had a first-hand share of that market!!
By the way, African tribal print upholstery fabrics from Rivatex fabrics make great wholecloth bed cover quilts!
Now, let’s encourage growing cotton, hemp, jute, silk and linen, and make our own fabrics . . .