By Gugulethu Mfuphi
A visit to the buzzing markets in Senegal’s capital city, Dakar, is one characterised by the bright colors of fresh fruit and vegetables, the pungent smell of raw fresh fish and chicken and the chatter among traders and price-negotiating consumers.
The spirit of Senegalese traders is one of resilience as they boldly engage with shoppers coercing them to purchase from them, all whilst maintaining respect for their fellow traders. For many, the choice to trade at the market is one of survival in order to provide for their families.
One art trader who we spoke to at the Marché Kermel was honest about the challenges of his business: Having learnt the art of trade from his parents, he has since involved two of his six children in the business – helping him to provide for his family.
Rental costs at the market are significantly cheaper than a recently broken down one. Where merchants would pay 10 000 CFA for 2×3 rental space (+/- R225.00), they now pay 1000 CFA for a 1×1 meter cubical (+/- R22.00) cl, as such traders instead club together to maximise rental space whilst limiting their expenses.
Despite not always managing to push maximum sales of stock, traders remain optimistic that their work is worthwhile. Where they fall short in production – they believe their faith will provide the rest.
This sentiment is also shared by the farmers in peri-urban areas like Cape Vert Peninsula alongside Lac Rosa, which is commonly known as the Pink Lake. Here, descendants of the now semi-nomadic Fulani tribe earn their living by farming vegetables for a living. With minimal resources, these families use traditional means for farming to produce goods that will later be exported to neighbouring countries and the capital city, Dakar.
Purely using the spoil and aluminum water tankers, these farmers are desperate to upskill their efforts with the use of technology; however bureaucratic political measures continue to be a hindrance.
Senegalese markets are more than just a place of barter and fervent activity. But rather a place where characteristics of perseverance, faith and dexterity.