Visiting open markets in Africa is one of my favorite activities. There is no better way to get immersed in to the pulse of the community and get a good insight in to the culture, food, smells, and sounds of Africa. Regardless of the region, from Douala to Dakar to Johannesburg to Abidjan to Harare, all African markets have the particularity of being exciting, vibrant, colorful, noisy, and fun.
To truly appreciate the experience, all your senses must be awakened.
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Since cooking is still a gender-based activity in Africa, markets are naturally full of women, beautiful women elegantly dressed in flowing bright color fabrics. Some sport architectural headscarves, while others carry heavy loads precariously balanced on their heads — often with a baby sleeping comfortably on their backs.
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They move about graciously between the crowded and narrow alleys, which are overflowing with food and other domestic items.
The atmosphere feels like a carnival: the animated noises of bargain, laughter, haggling and the occasional music seamlessly blend with the smells of incense, spices, and of course food.
All sorts of foods: sweet mangoes, sour tamarinds, bitter eggplants, briny clam relish, spicy peppers, fermented conch, salted fish, smoked catfish, fresh fish, live snails in giant tubs, all kinds of green leaves, plantain, fried plantain, grilled green plantain, Guinea hens, skinned lamb hanging on hooks, and a bountiful diversity of fresh ingredients.
African markets are true feast for the senses!
Here are different market scenes captured randomly around the continent: