The Republic of Kenya is known as the Cradle of Humanity due to its rich abundance of human fossils, which include some of the earliest instances of Homo erectus. When future anthropologists excavate in a few centuries, fossils and artifacts from the 21st century will help them understand why Kenyans spent so much time at the mall. Although Nairobi still has a long way to go before it reaches megacity status, this has not stopped developers of upscale shopping centers from laying the foundations of a burgeoning culture of consumerism. In 2016, the opening of the Two Rivers Mall in the Ruaka district sent a strong signal to all African nations: Kenya is the new African queen of shopping centers.
Two Rivers is currently the biggest indoor shopping arena in East Africa. The second and third biggest malls are also in this city, but Two Rivers has clearly won the 2016 battle of the Kenyan malls. This shopping structure occupies 700,000 square feet and is anchored by a Carrefour store that would be the envy of quite a few European cities. In the near future, upmarket stores such as Eugen Klein and Flormar will compete against a dolphinarium that will be installed so that shoppers can enjoy watching cetaceans that would prefer to be swimming off the Shimoni coast.
While Two Rivers may have won the 2016 battle of the Kenyan malls, the war is not over. The Waterfront, a smaller but more princely project, will open its doors to shoppers in May 2017. Thika Road, a major thoroughfare that runs across 46 kilometers of the capital city, already has malls at every six kilometers. Commercial real estate developers think that the building frenzy of malls in Nairobi has yet to reach a saturation point. There are some ghost malls in terms of low traffic from shoppers, but occupancy rates are around 80 percent. The middle class population of Kenya is growing, but the tenants at these new shopping emporiums may have to adjust their offerings and prices down the line.
According to reports in local news media outlets, mall culture is already taking hold in Nairobi with younger people using the shopping centers as meeting spots and families saving up shillings so that they can share a meal at the food courts. Hawkers are setting up shop outside of the malls and being chased away by security guards. Such is the smell of consumerism in the morning; to capitalists, it smells like victory.