To really experience Africa, one is bound to visit the places where people mingle. There is especially one place – loud and chaotic, yet colourful and entertaining – the markets of Adjamé.
Adjamé, infamous for pickpockets, brawls, drugs and faulty wares, is a system of hundreds of market-stands, lined up on each side of the streets in its district. It is Abidjan’s biggest market, and there is nothing you could not find there: beautiful African clothes and tasty fruit, mobile phones, jewellery, watches, HiFi systems, iPads, sunglasses, food, and so on. The owners shout out their prices and best bargains to attract as many customers as possible. Next to the young boy shouting “Shoes, 2000 francs!”, there was guy pushing 60, waving with a bag filled with little sachets of Marihuana, all neatly labelled. He, too, was exclaiming his prices without holding back. Adjamé is also said to be Abidjan’s biggest “black-market” (no pun intended). Nonetheless, in the roughly three hours that I spent there, I haven’t seen a single policeman. Neither was there any white person, no Asians, not even Arabs, who are elsewise so common in other markets. “Feeling unique” does not quite express the mental state when I went there.
This is the market in the early morning, and not the most crowded place, where I couldn’t even find space to take pictures. Ladies are walking carrying around with water, one bag for 100 CFA. (0.15€)
Of course I did not go to the market on my own. I may be open to adventures, my curiosity still drives me a lot… but I value my health and belongings a bit too much, still 😉 I was shown around by Il-Shim and two of his friends/acquaintances, with whom he does business. They mainly trade with lady-shoes, which they buy for 1000-2500 CFA here in Adjamé. They then clean and repair the shoes, and sell them again in their own districts, at an eight-to-ten-fold price. They advised me to best go to the markets early in the morning, meaning 6 a.m., to get the optimum prices and the best wares.
As you can see, they just pile up the shoes, and customers even walk on them. Everything is second hand, but not broken or torn. Very much like the shoes you’d rather be giving to the clothes collection for the poor than throwing them away. Probably that is also where these shoes came from…
Yes! Lacoste and Diesel slippers, 2000 francs (3€) a pair! These are not even fake, as the good quality indicates.
The market has sections for each kind of product. Now we enter the tech-street. You’ll still find shoes everywhere in between.
Here we go! The newest mobile phones for unbelievable prices. Of course, haggling is unavoidable, but once you got the hang of it, it’s quite fun actually. It sort of builds a connection with the merchant. If you’re white, though, expect to be ripped off by at least 10% / 20%. Bring along a black friend for business and let him do the talking, which, by the way, is mostly done in Djoula, spoken by the Maleké people. They originally came to Cote d’Ivoire as merchants, and their position maintained unchanged since then.
Especially with electronics and watches, be careful. Most of the wares are fake and don’t actually work. Try out everything before your final purchase, even before asking the price. With watches, for example, most of the apparatus’ functions like the barometer or the calendar are simply printed onto the face of the watch. Africans love heavy and shiny stuff on their arms, which they can show off to their friends! Mostly you find “Tag-Heuer” and sports-brands like Puma/Adidas.
As I wanted to get some cultural items, we continued our shopping tour at the Cocody culture market. This place is the most empty and peaceful area I’ve been to so far, haha! The three of us were the only customers in the entire street.
I don’t know in how far everything here is genuine, but it looked good anyways! In Cocody market you can find amazing African bracelets and necklaces, hair-pins, statuettes of people and animals, masks, crocodile-skin wallets and bags, pictures and instruments.
Such beautiful masks! The ones with bronze or aluminium [a-lu-‘min-nium] metal fittings are from Mali. Their origin is also distinguishable by the hairstyle of the person- every tribe wears their hair in a different fashion.
The orange-yellowish mask with the “God”-symbol on the forehead is from the Ghanaian Ashanti tribe.
A rather extensive collection of necklaces.
So, those are the items I got at Cocody: a statuette of ebony for 8000 CFA (might be fake, but it looks good, no?), a letter-opener with a lions-head for 2000 CFA, and a game of “Awale” for 3000 CFA [Ah-wah-‘leh], of which I yet have to find out how it works. It is pretty popular all over West-Africa.
At Adjamé I bought a new watch and shades. The shades were 1000 CFA. I decided not to get the Giorgio Armani ones, as they were bare ugly goggles, and, of course, fake.
The watch has cost me, after a tough haggle, 6000 CFA. It’s one of the few without the fake stuff on them. It has a nice leather band with it and is the most humble watch I could find. I am still not sure if it’s a “Pramado”, as engraved on the side and the back, or if it’s a “Promodo”, as it says on the face.
But anyways, it’s of the “Premium Collection”, and also the “ROYAL COLEECTION”. 😉
The blue-and-yellow bracelet is a gift from one of my students, yay!
I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to check for clothes this time, but it’s still on my list to get myself some “Lacoste” shirts, hehe.