the beninese walmart

A small section of Dantokpa, West Africa's largest market.

“So what do people buy at the market?” my mom asked on our way there.

“Everything.”

“But I mean, like, food? Clothes? Books?”

“Yes, all that and more.”

“Are there other places to buy things?”

“Well yes, but there’s more at the market.”

To best comparison I could think to draw for her was to the Walmart that served as the commercial and social hub of our rural Midwestern hometown. Sure, you could buy stuff at the drug store or the few remaining specialty stores downtown, but why would you do that? Everything was cheaper at Wal-Mart, and plus, going there doubled as an activity. You were bound to run into countless others you knew and spend the afternoon gossiping.

Fried, dried, or fresh, there's fish galore.
Peppers and spices of all varieties.
You can get a pedicure, even.
Or purses.
There's so much it's hard to know what to buy.

For outsiders like us the West African market experience can be a little overwhelming. We looked at fabric and rugs and purses, but in the end all we came away with were some sunburns.

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One Response to the beninese walmart

  1. Anne says:

    I have only been to the market in Guinea once, and I didn’t even make it past the outer ring of offerings. It was so traumatizing I haven’t been back since!

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