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Kenyans turn to ‘nyama pambana’ amid high cost of living

By Winnie Onyando November 19th, 2023 2 min read

The high cost of living is a burden that many Kenyans are grappling with, leading them to explore alternatives to satisfy their cravings.

While most sectors have been affected, the food industry, especially high-end food products, has taken a significant hit.

People have had to make cutbacks, particularly when dining out, and there’s a rising popularity of a food item in many budget restaurants to the extent that quality cuts of meat are no longer selling.

Many Kenyans now have turned to consume a dish known as Nyama Pambana or mlima, which refers to substantial bone portions with little to no meat, requiring some effort to extract the meat from the bone.

Stephene Omondi, a Nairobi resident, shared his preference for Nyama Pambana stating, “I prefer Nyama Pambana because it’s affordable, and I receive a generous serving of broth, making me feel like I’m getting value for my money. Additionally, I’m not fond of vegetables, so it’s a cost-effective way to satisfy my meat cravings without breaking the bank. Nyama Pambana typically costs around 100 shillings or more, depending on the place you dine.”

On the other hand, James Mutiso, also residing in Nairobi, shared his comment stating that, “As a casual laborer, you have to be prudent with your expenses. That’s why I opt for Nyama Pambana. I need the energy, and it’s budget-friendly. Sometimes, when you’re lucky, you might get a substantial piece of meat on the bone, but even on days when you’re not so lucky, you can still be satisfied at an affordable cost.”

In budget hotels, a plate of meat with a few pieces can cost between Sh150 to Sh200, which many now find expensive compared to the past.

Lovelyne Achieng, a hotel owner in Nairobi, lamented the challenges faced by the food industry.

“The food industry is currently struggling because most customers prefer to eat at home or opt for simple options like chapati and beans. Very few want genuine meat; many prefer Mlima or Matumbo because it’s affordable. Consequently, we are forced to make significant cutbacks to stay afloat,” Achieng told Nairobi News.

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