One thing confounds a confirmed ID—and this is that the colors of these beads tend to resemble both Indo-Pacific beads AND European seedbeads.
Both of these families of beads are made from drawn canes (are cane beads). This immediately rules-out China. Chinese seedbeads were wound. (Even tiny ones.) Drawn seedbeads in Chinese constructions would have been imported.
I cannot say I am necessarily up-to-date on seedbeads from India. These would be the modern versions of I-P beads. But, as far as I know, contemporary Indian seedbeads likewise have a brighter color pallet than the beads we are viewing here. Let's recall that there was a long period during which glass beads were, essentially, not made in India—or the output was considerably lessened. All this changed in the mid-1970s. But I am not aware of Indian seedbeads since that time—apart from the "modern I-P beads." that (as far as I know) tend to be very small and in limited colors, from South India. I would be surprised if these beads were found in East Africa.
Since the beads have an East-African find-spot, I would guess they are most-likely European/Venetian. I-P beads from East Africa are generally well-worn and look like old beads (because they are old). In the region of the Massai, I am more accustomed too seeing seedbead work to consist of brighter colors. So your beads surprise me.
Regarding a low price—are you familiar with "Christmas beads?" These are quite long strands of mixed seedbeads, that come out of West Africa. They can be bought for two or three dollars per strand. (Unless prices have risen since I last looked and asked about pricing.)
So it IS possible that newish (not antique, and not particularly distinctive) glass seedbeads, can be sold for a low price.
Since any group of plain seedbeads is much like any other group from another industry, it is difficult to be more assured or confident of a specific origin.
Just got back here to Seattle...getting caught up on these posts.
Wow... Sounds like to me the person selling you these beads isn't even sure himself where these are from.
To me...(when I first saw them, I didn't know they were seed beads) and thought to myself....Hmmmm...Nice Indopac's. They are sloppy like Indopac's and the color is spot on too.
Also...It is fairly common to see the larger indopacs with beads stuck together. They don't seem to mind putting a few into each kilo they sold/traded. That's another reason that I say Indopac.
I think you may never know for sure where they came from. But at least twice now someone has said the word...Indopacific :)
As a maverick bead dude...I'm only right about 50% of the time ;)
Me....I stay away from seed beads..But yours are very interesting.
Thanks for showing them here
From the way they look, in my view they could be European, Indian and Chinese.
The price does not really say much, as they could all be as cheap as you mention.
There is current production in India and China that could produce these. China is my most likely suspect, considering how irregular they are. Some of the seed beads I bought about 8 years ago from China were this irregular shape and size.