The Star (Nairobi)

11 January 2013

East Africa: Lubao - the Biggest Dog Market

IT is Thursday morning and it's market day at Lubao market in Kakamega East district.

The main highway from Kakamega to Webuye traverses the trading centre famous for its dog market which is the biggest in East and Central Africa. The market, which lies at the north-eastern side of Kakamega town, neighbours Kambi ya Mwanza market and GK Shikusa Prison.

On the northern part is the main market where dogs, cows, goats and sheep are sold, while the southern side has shops for retail businesses.

Lubao was started in 1952 and got its name from several sign posts installed in the area to show directions to neighbouring centres.

There were many timber businesses at the market which contributed to its name. In 1972, Lubao became one of the biggest markets famed for dog auction apart from the traditional sale of cattle, goats, sheep and chicken and other merchandise.

The dogs for sale are brought in from neighbouring towns like Kapsabet, Eldoret and Timboroa in the Rift Valley province. Dogs provide security to most families in the region, making the market price range from Sh700 to Sh1,500. When there is scarcity, the dogs cost between Sh1,500 and Sh2,000.

Most of the dogs sold here are the traditional breeds and it is rare to sport an exotic dog. Wycliffe Otenyo, who sells dogs, says the business has enabled him to pay his wife's college fees at a teachers' training college. "I started my business in 1987 and l have bought a motorbike to help me move around and it is my main source of income," Otenyo said. Dog traders face many challenges including long distances they cover in search of the animals and price fluctuation.

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