This post is about plastic gunia bags, which were recently super-handy for me during a move.
As a child, growing up in the Côte d’Ivoire, I often found myself at the Félix Houphouët-Boigny International Airport.
Most times, it would be to send off or welcome my father to or from a work trip.
At other times, it would be because I, another family member, and/or one of our many visiting friends and relatives were travelling by air.
Whatever the case, it was during these frequent visits to the airport that I first became aware of the item that I would like to tell you about today: plastic gunia bags.
My First Encounter With Plastic Gunia Bags
In the eighties and nineties, at the airport in Abidjan, it was common place to see travelers laying around on the floor, in the nooks and crannies of the airport, surrounded by other travelers and loads of luggage.
It was obvious that these travelers had been or would be at the airport for more than just a couple of hours.
Their luggage was unlike anything I was accustomed to associating with air travel.
Instead of the usual suitcases, these travelers carried huge woven bags, made of plastic.
These bags were usually blue (or black), red, and white in color and striped.
I was not sure what these travelers carried in the bags.
Because they were similar to the bags I often saw in markets used by vendors to store their merchandise, I assumed these travelers were merchants.
The bags, I reasoned, must contain their wares.
Fast forward about a decade.
Seeing Plastic Gunia Bags in a New Light
She was making this transition on her own (as opposed to being sponsored by an organization).
She also happened to be doing it at rather short notice.
In a week’s time, my friend had wrapped up her life in Uganda, sold the majority of her household goods, and appeared at my doorstep with two suitcases and a number of these plastic gunia bags in tow.
This was the first time in a long time that I was seeing these bags again.
Quite frankly, I thought this was an ingenious way for my friend to have packed her belongings during her move.
This is why, a couple of months later, as I embarked on a transition of my own, I asked my friend where she had bought her gunia bags.
Unfortunately, she told me: she had bought the bags in Kampala.
She had no idea where I could find similar bags in Nairobi.
Undeterred, I set out on a mission to find these bags. Since I knew Nairobi fairly well, I was pretty sure I’d be successful.
Finding Plastic Gunia Bags in Nairobi
I didn’t have to search very long.
I quickly found what I was looking for in two very disparate locations: I found the bags both at Nakumatt Westgate, upstairs in the luggage section, and at Kibera market for 109 Ksh and 120 Ksh, respectively (no comments about my lack of bargaining skills! :-))
The bags came in several colors (which was great for organization).
They also came in all sizes, from very small to extremely large.
From experience, I have since learned that although the larger bags pack greater volumes, these volumes can add up to a weight that causes the bags to tear as they are carried.
Unless you are dealing with things that are very light, I recommend using the medium-sized bags.
That size still allows for the packing of substantial volume, while helping to limit the bag’s total weight.
After selling my furniture and most of my household goods, I packed the rest of my life into a suitcase and six of these medium-sized bags.
The bags, just like those my friend used during her move, served me well during my transition.
In fact, they continue to do so to-date.
Although a few of them gave way under the weight of heavy things such as my great collection of books :-), I use the rest of them, today, to store or transport bulky items such as duvets, pillows, or my mother’s collection of West African mudcloth.
So Why Am I Telling You All This?
I was ecstatic when I discovered the handiness of these woven plastic bags.
They worked well for me as storage as well as for moving things.
If you are in the need of an efficient, neat, and inexpensive way to store or move items, these bags might be just what you are looking for.
I already told you where I got them in Nairobi and at what price.
I am pretty sure you can find them elsewhere in East Africa too—all you need to do is look.
With that said, it’s time for me to sign off.
I hope this information serves you in some way. If it does, please let me know all about it.
Until the next time,
Photo Credit: AliExpress.com