Thursday, February 19, 2009

Balogun Market

My passion takes me to places few of my countrymen go - the teeming, vibrant bustling market places of West Africa. Dakar, Freetown, Conakry, Accra, Kumasi, Ouagadougou, Bamako, Niamey,Lagos, Kanu, Lome and Luanda.

Retail
A wholesaler - Lagos, Nigeria

These Markets sell everything - foodstuff,clothing, shoes, branded rip off fashion wear from Asia, stationary, consumables, household appliances, goats, chickens, guinea fowl, cattle, camels, everything.

The Market
Madina Market - Guinea Conakry

I walk the streets, the alleyways, talking with importers who bring in goods by the container, wholesalers, distributors, the table top sellers who sell a packet at a time... anyone in the chain.

Mud
Madina Market - Guinea Conakry

During the wet months the path ways are flooded,mud squelching with every step; in the dry months its the dust and the flies buzzing around and always people, so many people, buying, selling, carrying, wheeling and dealing - Young men with muscled torso's, proud Allahji's and the Mama's who are the kings and queens of these places,the old and the young, everyone trying to make a living.

Sani Abacha Street
Sani Abacha Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone

Lagos is no different, its not only an industrial center - it is also a city of markets - shopping - buying and selling - trade and commerce. Its estimated that 60% of Nigeria's currency is outside banks, the level of trading so high The major market centers on Lagos Island include Jankara, Balogun, Isala Eco and Sandgrouse markets.

Life goes on
Luanda, Angola

Bargaining is the name across Africa,and nothing gives me as much pleasure as sitting down with a seller of art be it a painting or masks to haggle amicably over the price of something that has caught my eye. Even as I walk away with my prize, happy at the price I paid for it, I know that I was bested nevertheless by a merchant who's ancestors have been doing the very same for generations. Should you find yourself bargaining, remember a few simple things - a) The initial price is most likely than not twice or thrice what its actually worth. b) Keep in pleasant and smile, its all fun. c) Neither you nor the seller should lose face,so be sensitive.

Bargain
Madina Market - Guinea Conakry

I plunged into Balogun this morning to spend the next two hours walking around, cajoling reluctant shop keepers to give me some of their time - where survival is based upon making a buck, not everyone likes to waste time talking to some dude in spectacles who offers only incessant questions, albeit with a smile!

The retail market
Kumasi, Ghana

Exhausting work, the heat and humidity physically draining as keeping my wits about me was mentally so.But truth is, I love it, with a passion, with an enthusiasm that is as fresh as it was when I dived in for the first time four years ago.

2 comments:

  1. wow. i just stumbled on your blog for the first time and it just took me back in time to when i lived in Nigeria. As much as i loved Lagos, i preferred the more primitive states like Akwa Ibom. If its still as beautiful as it used to be then you should definitely vist.

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