Haggling culture in Tanzania

First things first, I am a terrible ‘haggler’ (is that even a word?!!) I honestly don’t know how I’ve managed to keep my business afloat being so terrible at this practice, but yeahs I guess am just so darn good at what I do that it doesn’t affect me 😉

Now unlike in many western countries whereby everything is labelled hence you pay what you see on the product-no more no less, here in Afrika, and particularly in my good country of Tanzania, there’s nothing like a fixed price! And if the fixed price has to apply then the customers usually introduce the very interesting ‘payment by installments’ concept-traders just cant seem to win hey?!

The only places whereby fixed prices are generally accepted by consumers are the likes of grocery stores, supermarkets, gas stations and eating/drinking establishments. Although depending on your skills and persuasion prowess you can even get a discount on food. eg. the other day I went to this little restaurant in town and they didn’t have my favourite mboga (side dish); maharage (beans). I ordered wali na nyama (rice and meat) which was supposed to be accompanied by maharage na mbogamboga (veggies). So I stood up to walk away and the nice lady was like, unaongea tu tunaelewana (we can just talk about it and come to an understanding). So yeahs I ended up paying 3000, instead of 3500-didn’t enjoy my meal as much but the discount was well worth it!

Apart from the few places, believe you me, you can and should haggle everywhere else! Traders tend to go really hard on especially foreigners, as is the norm in most countries not just in Afrika, but live here long enough and you pretty much get the gist of it and you find yourself paying the ‘local price’-or close to it! Another thing is, if you go to the market well dressed, you are sure to get overcharged-even if you are a local! Personally, I learnt from a young age that when you go shopping in certain places you dress shabby-well not too shabby but go for a very simple look. Also if you can speak Swahili, that’s a plus for you especially for fellow Africans not necessarily from Tanzania because then you will be treated like a local. but you go there with your Kizungu (slang for English) and you’ll see how that will play out!

So next time you go to Kariakoo market to get your supplies or for ladies if you go shopping to upgrade your wardrobe don’t just pay what you are told, usually they’d add a good few thousands to the ‘real’ price eg. if a pair of shoes costs say 50,000-I would usually pay about 45,000 but the ‘real’ price could even be as low as 35,000-it all just depends on your sweet tongue, patience and determination-which I clearly don’t possess but good luck to you and happy haggling!



The famous Kariakoo market in Dar whereby you can get anything you are looking for, you just need enough strength to handle the crazy crowds and scorching heat 🙂