In an interview with a local radio station, one Kenyan said that without ugali, there is no meal. He said he can eat ugali for breakfast, lunch and supper, seven days a week, 12 months a year. Simply, all the days of his life.
This sends a message that ugali is the most preferred food by most Kenyans, and without it Kenyans presumably “sleep hungry”. But getting maize flour lately has been an uphill task with only the ‘rich’ getting easy access to the precious powder.
This is after the prices shot to between Ksh160 and Ksh200, forcing the government to intervene, but then even getting it is not that easy.
The government made three major interventions, which seem not to work so far. First, the Sh75 unga from Galana-Kulalu scheme that never lasted a day, secondly the tax waiver on maize and bread. Then came the infamous Ksh90 GoK unga supported by a government subsidy, which seemed to be the saviour of the situation but soon evaporated.
The arrival of the Mexican maize presented a ray of hope that the Ksh90 unga programme was sustainable, but that was shortlived.
Before the Ksh90 unga arrived, there were some packets on supermarket and retailer shelves, but now the shelves are empty during the better part of the business day. Worse still, when there is unga on the shelves rationing is the order, with the best retailers allowing an individual to take a maximum of two packets as others restrict it to one. Despite the rationing, the stocks barely last a day, with most people missing out.
To show how serious the situation is, a section of Kenyans who attended president Kenyatta’s rally on Monday as he presented his documents to the IEBC carried empty unga packets and sufurias to send the message home. Previously, the same Kenyan cooked and danced outside the president’s office to thank him for the Sh90 unga. Now they have nothing to cook.
Shop in the morning
Most retailers unleash new stock in the morning, hence you won’t miss it in most cases when you visit the supermarket before 11am. They do this for various reasons, which may include rationing or keeping track of their stock and avoid a stampede during evening hours. However, it is not a guarantee that you’ll get it in the morning in all supermarkets. But early and keep.
Go with friends or family members
Rationing is real, and they won’t allow you to pick more than the set limit per head. This is why you need two or three friends who can buy for you the packets you need. You can return the favour when they need you, or buy them tea, after all ugali is more important than tea.
Have connections in the supermarkets
Kenya is a country of who knows who, and even that despised supermarket attendant can be your informant. Have his/her contacts so that s/he can alert you whenever new stock arrives. This way, you will never miss unga in your house. In return, appreciate him/her with some airtime, s/he’s worth a friend.
Buy directly from the millers
If you have good money or you can pool to get in bulk, you can do so directly from the millers. Some are doing that and having enough stock for a month.
Otherwise, you can buy maize, which is available at a higher prices, visit the local posho mill for grinding. We are told this give best quality ugali than processed unga.
Next read: How Kenyans are making fun of ugali and Unga
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