Monday, October 06, 2008

The 5th good thing about Northern Nigeria: a true African city market experience

As part of our city tour of Kano, we made a stop at the Kurmi market, one of the largest and oldest city markets in Africa. It's a maze of temporary shacks and more permanent stalls, an easy place to get lost in, so our tour group was divided into smaller groups of 4 people and each given a local guide to lead us through the maze and to help us find what we were looking for. This first picture is of our guide leading the way.

This is a market used by residents of the city, not especially for tourists. There were different areas of the market, specializing in different items. These pumpkins are used for eating, as well as drying to make calabash containers

This is part of the shoe department.

This man is showing off his decorative saddle cloth. There was a large section of items for horses, such as saddles and decorative costumes, likely in big demand as people were getting their horses fitted out for the Durbar festival.

This room was full of costumes for horses.

Our guide spoke some English and he explained to us some of the uses for things we couldn't figure out. This stone was used for purifying water, I guess it works like a filter.

This shiny mineral, he said, was used around the eyes for "medicine."

I wish I had gotten a picture of the big white blocks they were cutting up for sale -- they looked like blocks of feta cheese. But they were actually starch which would be used, our guide said, for "stiff caps."
There were areas more of interest to tourists -- stalls with jewelry,

and a large spice section with lots of good-smelling stuff.

There were also areas in the market not so sweet-smelling. There were parts of the market where the rough floorboards made a bridge over the open sewer down below. I was really hoping those boards would hold my weight as I walked over them -- the smells coming up from the sludge below were not pretty!

Lots of sellers with wares piled on their heads...

And lots of others not so interested in selling, resting in the shade in the afternoon heat, waiting for sundown when they could end their fast.

These plastics strings in the foreground would be woven into the colorful fans seen in the background.

Environmentalists would be pleased to know that there is a recycling center in the market where piles of garbage are sorted through, with like items mounded together to find another use.

My sole purchase at the market was a calabash and gourd dipper purchased from these nice men, who agreed to let me take their picture.

As we left the market, we passed this remarkably clean and healthy looking goat chewing vigorously on some paper. With all the bounty the market has to offer, all he ends up with is a piece of paper!

No comments: