Music is my soul, my passion. It has always been a part of me. Travel without music is like Dublin without Guinness. I can still remember when I bought my first vinyl. I was 13 years old. I was 16 when I bought my first turntable. Since then every time I travel, I look for some local record store. When I find one, I spend at least 4 hours just digging through boxes of records. I have visited many record stores around the world (USA, Canada, Tunisia, Turkey, France, Germany, Poland etc.), but I had never been in this kind of place before. After seeing a BBC interview with Jimmy Jugami a.k.a. Real Vinyl Guru – the owner of the record store in Nairobi – I knew I had to go there.
After checking in to the hotel in Nairobi I told Elodie‘’BooBoo, we must go to the vinyl shop ASAP’’ and what happened? On the second day of our trip to Kenya, instead of visiting tourist attractions recommended by travel guides, we took the local bus called Matatu (an 8 seater) and we went to the Kenyatta Market (There were 12 people on the bus in total and I was the only white guy– ‘’Kenyan Classic’’:)).
After we arrived a lot of people on the streets tried to stop us and convince us to buy some fruits, clothes etc. We just kept going instead. After we crossed the main gate we turned left and looked for a shop number 570. Still, it was the same old story: ‘’my friend, buy clothes from me. My Friend, promote me’’. However, this time I said: ‘’Sorry I have a meeting with Jimmy.’’ and they let us go. They even gave us directions to the shop.
When we got there we finally met Jimmy and I started digging. Jimmy Rugami set up his shop in 1989. His store is the biggest vinyl store in East Africa. He has over 6000 records (LP 12’s, Singles, 45’s) from around the world, including all genres like Jazz, Rumba, Disco, Funk, Hip Hop, Classic, Rumba, Salsa, Blues, Movie Soundtracks etc. What makes his business unique is the African music. (You probably don’t know that the East African vinyl records are getting harder to find). In addition to records you can also buy tapes, CD’s and vintage record players (something for Hipsters ;)).
His main products, however, are vinyl records. After a few hours of digging, I found two 45’s with funk from Nairobi and Mombasa. What’s great about the place is that no matter where you’re from you get your vinyl records at the same price as everyone else.
If you get hungry while searching for your music, there is a butcher opposite Jimmy’s store, where they grill meat in front of you and you can eat it among local people. It’s a good spot to have a break.
Jimmy is also one of vinyl activists in Kenya. He organizes East Africa Record Store Day. If you are in Kenya in this month, you have chance to participate in this event (World Record Store Day is on Saturday, 24th of April).
His shop is open every day from morning till 7 pm. If you are in love with music, vinyls, tapes, turntables, you should definitely visit this place. Plus, you can buy there local clothes cheaper than in Nairobi’s tourist area.
Vinyl is the King- let’s support unique vinyl stores like Jimmy’s!
Things you should know before you visit the Kenyatta Market:
- If a seller stops you and doesn’t want to let you go, tell him: Sorry, I don’t have time, I’m doing business here.
- When you arrive at the shop, remember to bring some cash with you, cards won’t be accepted.
- Don’t negotiate price with Jimmy – there are no discounts. Be human and support his business.