Thursday, November 25, 2010

Paintings, Sandaga, & Tabaski

I finally got my paintings from Nigeria framed for 5,000 CFA each (about $10 each).  These frames should last for a long time as there is a 1/4" plywood sheet nailed to the back of each one and an industrial strength metal eyelet screwed in the top for hanging.

I also ventured into the Sandaga Outdoor Market again yesterday on a special mission: to purchase a Baye Fall boubou made of long strips of fabric.  As usual when I entered the market someone approached me and asked if I wanted to see his artisan store selling all kinds of specials that he made by himself.  My new friend led me through the back alleys to the same five-story shirt factory near the north edge of the market.  Inside he took me to the boubou room and we began our negotiations.  Since I was almost a local now he would give me a better price than the tourist price- only 110,000 CFA per boubou instead of the ClubMed price of 220,000 CFA each.  I countered for 5,000 CFA.  We went back and forth over the price for the next half hour and they brought out a couple other examples of boubous of differing quality.  In the end I walked away with 3 boubous for 45,000 CFA or 15,000 CFA each (about $30 each).  If I had negotiated harder I should have been able to get them for 10,000 each.

Each time I have entered the Sandaga Market I was picked up by a different person and carefully guided to the shirt factory along routes that did not offer boubous or similar items.  Upon arrival each of my friends would offer me a tour of their factory and end up in a room where we would negotiate a price.  Upon reaching a price we would go to one of the cashiers, either on the third floor or in the gift shop on the ground floor and my friend would hand them the cash and keep a portion for themselves.  Communications with cashier are conducted in Wolof and money is exchanged out of sight so I haven't been able to figure out the actual cost of the items.  However, a local friend told me he could get boubous for about 5,000 CFA each.

Tabaski, the Muslim celebration of the Abraham's sacrifice of the ram instead of his son, was celebrated last week and was a two day national holiday.  According to a friend of mine who returned to his home village for the celebration, each family should sacrifice a male sheep.  If they can't afford a male sheep a female sheep would be an acceptable substitute and a goat could be used as a last resort.  He was able to provide one male sheep for his family and bought his sheep for next year as well.  My friend said the price of the sheep depends on it's size, but an average size sheep would cost between 150,000 to 200,000 CFA ($300-$400 USD) the week before Tabaski.  He bought his slightly smaller sheep for next year for 75,000 CFA ($150 USD) and over the next year his family will try to fatten it up. Dakar Goats

The day after the Tabaski celebration I went for a run along the beach and found lots of horns and sheep skins stretched out and drying in the sun.  A surfer friend told me that he went for a surf after Tabaski and ended up paddling through sheep guts and carcasses because the remains were thrown into the ocean by the locals.


  1. cool paintings. It gives a cool effect putting them side by side like that.

  2. Surfing in guts does not sound healthy nor fun...The cost of a lamb sounds extravagant for their families to afford. I like the paintings. Is the fabric on the "pajamas" rough or smooth? cotton? Love Mom

  3. Hello Arnie,

    I hope you're enjoying your stay in almost sound like a local with your bartering skills and it should get better with time.

    That outfit could've probably could've been bought at 5,000 CFA but you still got a better deal than 100,000 right? lol.

    Yes Tabaski is like thanksgiving, isn't it?
    The atmosphere gets really crazy though, I think that most folks kinda miss the point just like Christmas here...they forget the religious aspect that Abraham gave up his favorite son for God and that ultimate sacrifice: everyone just wants to party and eat til they swell.

    Thank you and great blog, I will follow you!

    Hadji Beye
    Performance Consultants