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Male dominance in sale of underwear shorts at Kariakoo Market
Some female underwear shorts for sale

Male dominance in sale of underwear shorts at Kariakoo Market in Tanzania

Female underwear shorts are one of the top-selling items in Kariakoo, one of Dar Es Salaam's popular markets in Tanzania. 


Traders, speaking to The Mirror, revealed that these shorts are in high demand due to Tanzanian women's habit of changing their undergarments frequently.

The main traders of this item are men who have developed a persuasive way to cater to their clients, mainly females, offering choices in colour, size, quality and brand.

During a visit to the Kariakoo market last Friday, it became evident that the sale of female underwear shorts was a prominent aspect of the market's busy trade. 


Johnny Roster, a female underwear seller said he wished he had started the business earlier


This reporter was in Tanzania because of her nomination for the prestigious 2023 OFAB Africa Media Awards in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, held last weekend.

A 29-year-old trader, Johnny Roster, who has been selling female underwear shorts for two years, said, "the selling of underwear shorts allows me to handle transactions every day. I sell approximately 10 pieces or more on a daily basis, making substantial sales. If I had discovered this business earlier, I would have started it much earlier."

Another seller, named Afaafa, explained that while the Kariakoo market offered a wide range of goods—from electrical supplies to furniture and food—the sale of female underwear shorts stood out as a bestseller.


Aside the retail industry, The Mirror observed that the market was also dominated by men who displayed all types of wares.

When asked why men seemed to have taken over the market, Abdul, a spice seller stated that “because women don’t like doing difficult stuff. The women don’t like to sell in the market so we are here for them.”


It is common to find male traders displaying all kinds of wares

The female underwear shorts business is so popular that some people told The Mirror that they were putting together some capital to enable them to invest in their sale. 

For instance, a belt seller, Jonas Martius, said he started his belt business with an amount of 15,000 shillings and noted that he should have traded in the female underwear business because the belts were not selling fast.

“So l am building capital out of this to buy bulk female underwear shorts and add to my belt business. Sometimes, by the time they sell about 10 pieces of female underwear shorts, l have not sold even a single belt,” he stated.

Makola Market

Similar to Accra's Makola market in Ghana, the Kariakoo market draws customers from neighbouring countries in East and Central Africa, including Kenya, Rwanda and Cameroun.

A trader and resident of Dar Es Salaam, who gave his name as Mwaga, told The Mirror that the appeal for visitors from these neighbouring nations was the strategic location of the market. 

“This location facilitates significant volumes of imports and exports. The proximity to the port significantly lowers the cost of goods and services," she explained.


The Kariakoo market is heavily congested

Origin of Kariakoo

Traders, who spoke with The Mirror, explained the origin of the name 'Kariakoo,' indicating its derivation from a corruption of the British term "Carrier Corps," formerly stationed in the area as a labour corps. These traders emphasised the market's substantial contribution to Dar Es Salaam's economy.

The Mirror further observed a busy scene within the market, marked by heavy congestion with a spill of both hawkers and sellers onto the roads and nearby streets. 

The market was described by some traders as being subdivided into distinct zones, catering to specific items such as clothing, foodstuff and electronics. 

They said the main market had suffered a fire outbreak a year ago, contributing to the current congestion as traders congregated in this space.

One thing The Mirror noted was the remarkable patience and tolerance displayed by the traders, who were not rushing to sell their goods. 

They often declined offers if the bargaining wasn't in their favour. When questioned about this nature of trading, the traders responded with hearty laughter, "That's Tanzanian folks for you – we are never in a hurry."

Writer’s email address; [email protected] 

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