It is dawn on Thursday and a number of animal sellers have thronged the roads leading to the famous dog market, Lubao Market in Kakamega County. While other sellers flock the market to bring farm produce as their trade items in the market, what catches the eyes of pedestrians and passengers in vehicles are the large flock of different animals that are brought to the market.
Being a cosmopolitan, as it accommodates staff members of the Shikusa Borstal institution and Shikusa Prison as well as individuals who work in the kakamega Business District, the market is segmented to suit the demands of buyers and sellers in what is considered the biggest dog fair in East and Central Africa and it prides itself for a variety of sellers including officers manning the famous Shikusa Prison and the Borstal institution. The ample environment is serene as the market is about 2km away from the Kakamega rain forest.
Since the market is located along the busy Kakamega-Webuye highway and the market covers two bordering constituencies, Kakamega and Shinyalu. Malava Sub County covers the larger part of the market with majority of the shops and the modern market that is being constructed by the Kakamega county government. Northern part of the main market, dogs are sold along with cows, goats and sheep with the southern part reserved for retail and wholesale businesses. The market is located approximately six kilometers from Kakamega town and the resident claim that the market started in the early 1950s and derives its name from several sign posts erected in the area to show directions to neighbouring market centres.
According to one of the locals, Mr Patrick Mbogani, in early 1950s, there were so many timber businesses at the market, which contributed to its name. Around 1972, Lubao rose to become one of the biggest markets famous for dog auction apart from the traditional sale of cattle, goats, sheep and chicken among other merchandise.
He further observes that the dogs brought at the market are mainly for sale and the traders bring dogs from the neighbouring towns like Webuye, Eldoret, Kapsabet, and Kitale and as far as Burnt Forest with approximation of sale going up to 200 dogs sold on a good day.
Mr Mbogani, who also deals in the boda boda yubusiness, said that many people prefer buying male dogs than female dogs for security purposes.
Most of the dogs sold at the market are the traditional breeds and it is rare to spot an exotic dog on sale in the market day even though for interested customers, the dog sellers are willing and ready to direct buyers to specific farmers who have the exotic type.
Mr Michael Otiato, who has been in the business for the past 30 years, observed that sometimes when a foreigner pays a visit to the market, he or she will be surprised on how money exchange hands between the buyer and seller.
On most occasions, a dog auction happens with the least bidder losing to the highest one. This makes him to contest for another dog praying that more than two bidders are in need of the same dog.
From a tender age, Mr Otiato further clarifies that he has come to agree with the belief that dogs are loyal, intelligent, devoted and affectionate. Besides, they are incredibly rewarding by providing the most trusted security for its master.
By Wycliffe Andabwa