have not been to the market in quite a while. I have left that duty to others
in my household. After all, I believe in devolution and delegation, especially
of disagreeable duties.
And since the chore of shopping wasn't one I was sure
of, I gladly left that chop to others. Mine is to eat what they bought from the
market and cooked. I refuse to delegate that.
so it was that for a many a year, I had no idea what it was like to be in the
marketplace. Until that fateful day that is, when my sister insisted that I
accompany her to the market.
Since she was not a person to whom you could say
no, I tagged along with a reluctant heart and two shuffling feet. I followed
her to the market.
all these years, not much has changed. The approaches to the market are as
usual crowded by the itinerant peddlers, trying to out shout themselves in an
effort to be heard above the din.
Every inch of space was covered by goods competing
for space with a thousand human feet, the wheel barrows of today's bearers and
the trays of hawkers.
every direction, I was assaulted by an assorted aroma of smells, some mildly
familiar, some unpleasant and others still, distinctly nasty.
With that, and the
mush-mush of the muddy mains, the mish-mash of market stalls and strong throng
of energetic humanity, I knew I was in an African market-place.
as I began to look closely at the goods on display, I saw that the only things
on sale that were African were the perishables – fresh vegetables, fruits and a
few other goods that could not be returned home after a day's sojourn in the
They had to be sold, or otherwise disposed because of their perishable
nature. That would explain the aggressive marketing of the sellers; sell or starve.
where I looked in this African marketplace, all I saw were things made in China.
I use to wipe my brow; the cotton buds I use to clean my ear; the toothpicks I
use to pick my teeth – every daily tool from the mundane to the indispensable;
electric bulbs, needles, cloth pegs, transistor radios, cooking ware, shoes,
bags, vests and underwear, screwdrivers and other household appliances, floor
mops, brooms, candles…the list is endless.
we moved through the shops in the market, I looked for signs of goods
made in Nigeria, or even any country in Africa, with little success.
At the clothing store,
everything from socks, pajamas, shirts, vests, shoes, sandals, ‘gelabas' and
many more all came from China.
I do not recall seeing anything made in my
country in that shop in this African market, and very little from any other
country as well, just China.
the electronics store, the story was the same. Computers, printers, telephone
sets, radios, VCDs and DVDs, standing and ceiling fans, air conditioners, refrigerators,
cooking ovens, bathroom water heaters, blenders, electric kettles, lightings, lamp
holders, electric fittings, voltage
stabilizers, power inverters, wall clocks, adapters and indeed, just about
everything else on display. I doubt if any Made-in-China trade fair could have
done any better.
motorcycles that conveyed goods and passengers to and from the market were
Chinese. The trucks that conveyed the bulkier items carried a bland Chinese
The goods being bought and sold were mostly Chinese, and naturally, the
profits of the trade flowed back to China. The only thing absent from
this marketplace in Africa was Mandarin.
trip to the market was a lesson in contemporary African economy. In today's African
marketplace, the throngs may be African, the peddlers African, the smells
African and the atmosphere African, but none of the things on sale are African.
Everything is made in China.
my trip to the marketplace, I settled down for a meal of rice that at least
wasn't Chinese; this was Thai.
finished my meal with a big belch, I saw staring at me from my dish, the symbol
of the new African marketplace: Made in China.