Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Incomprehensible things in African Markets

When there were tourists in Djenne, Sunday was a was a favourite day to arrive at Hotel Djenne Djenno in order to be up early the next day for the  famous Djenne market. This was always annoying to me, because I always felt Djenne has much more to offer than the Monday market and Djenne is about many other things. But people always insisted on taking  pictures of the Great Mosque with the Monday market in front  in full swing. This is a habit which goes back to colonial days it appears.  ‘There are many, many markets in Mali, and many places which have nothing else to recommend them apart from their colourful market’, I objected.’ Why don’t you just take a picture there instead?’ then you can always photoshop it and put the mosque behind later if you like.’
I think the market is a distraction and a very tiresome place.  I don’t go there if I can help it. But just before leaving I decided to do a little research and went with Papa, my chef. Djenne’s Monday market is 100% for Malians- absolutely nothing to do with tourists. There is a bewildering display of incomprehensible things on offer. So I decided to find out what exactly these things are and what they are used for- then I stored it all away until a rainy day.
 Well, it is not a rainy day- on the contrary I am sitting far, far away from the Djenne Monday market with a heavenly view over a Swedish lake where the sun is just dipping behind the green mountains and a small pleasure cruise ship is slicing through the calm blue waters. But I think of Mali so here is my Djenne market research:


Blogger mary said...

The markets of West Africa are indeed so wonderful. I can especially recommend the Monday market in Segou which is also very much NOT for tourists. What a feast of fruit, vegetables, fabric, pots, gourds and all the things not understood but now so well explained by you. I need another visit!

9:05 PM  
Blogger Laurent said...

Markets should be colourful and full of life and even the incomprehensible articles for those shoppers who are looking out for such items. Love markets.

1:06 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

There are plenty more incomprhensible things to explain so I will do another instalment when I get back!

5:32 AM  
Blogger Gilliane said...

Beautifully explained Sophie. I can see it as a lovely chapter in your book when it's published , the visual dictionary of Malian market bits and bobs.

7:35 AM  
Blogger David said...

Don't be too hard on tourists seeking market photos, with or without picturesque backdrop: I am one such. Love the produce details.

And now some splendid news: the Proms late nighter yesterday was a Malian sandwich with an Azerbaijan filling. First time I've heard Bassekou Kouyate and his fellow koraistas before: so infectiously joyous, we were all dancing in the arena. And some real classical sophistication from the phenomenal Lassana Diabate of the Trio Da Kali: is he the best balofonist in the world? He was backing the supposed Mahalia Jackson of Mali, Hawa Kasse Mady Diabate - a delight to watch. Bass ngonist was one of Bassekou's sons. You can listen for the next six days on the BBC Radio 3 iPlayer. Maybe we'll play it when we meet up chez toi for the Notting Hall carnival?

2:23 PM  
Blogger David said...

Sorry, read ngoni for kora re the great Bassekou Kouyate. Now I'm going to listen to him on one of Ali Farka Toure's CDs.

2:24 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

David Iwill be at my flat monday morning lets please meet up for carnival! Xxxs

2:42 PM  
Blogger Charlotte Borggreve said...

Lovely description of the items one can buy at the markets! It's true that Djenné has to offer much more than the market with mosque, but still i love wandering there at mondays, starting at sunrise to see all the charts, people, busses fully loaded arriving. And during the day at several moments and at late afternoon when everybody is leaving, taking leave, sharing the latest gossip etc
Are you coming to Amsterdam Sophie? I would love to have coffee with you!
Love, Charlotte

9:40 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Alas Charlotte, I don't think I will be going anywhere now until I return to Mali! But if I do I would love to see you.xsophie

6:42 PM  
Blogger Susan Scheid said...

I am so glad you braved the market to report all this back. The items you catalogue are fascinating.

1:37 AM  
Blogger Charlotte Borggreve said...

That's a pity Sophie, next meeting will be in Mali, inshallah. I'm planning to come with some people next januari. Enjoy the rest of your stay in London!

6:28 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home