Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Market

A blog about "being where we are" when we're in Africa has to include something about the market.  The market is a reality of daily life throughout Africa.  I'm convinced you can learn all you need to know about a particular place in Africa just by hanging out at the market and asking the right questions.  It is chaotic, loud, smelly, sometimes dangerous, exhausting, colorful, dirty, surprising and just about any other interesting adjective you can think of.  You need the right frame of mind when you go to the market.  You need a 'water off a duck's back' frame of mind.  It is the center of economic activity of a place.  It is also the center of social activity.  Prices are never fixed, and white folks tend to pay more than locals (as they should, in my opinion).  Talk about free market and the invisible hand--though it sometimes feels as though that invisible hand is picking up the nearest stick and beating you like a stubborn donkey.

You can learn what's important to people here, not just by what they buy and sell, but also by how deals get done.  I do love the market, even if I tend to avoid it. 

Sorry for the vertigo in this next one. I thought about editing it out, but it kind of gives a sense of how chaotic the market can be...especially when trying to watch out for two kids who aren't all the familiar with the market.

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