Causing Mayhem in Monday’s Market

Monday, 8:30am and it’s in the late 30’s already – a humid and sticky day. I’m in the local Mafambisse market. I get my first whiff of sun-dried fish, the strong ‘aroma’, like a punch in the face! Tables are laden with mounds of dried fish of all sizes and tiny prawns that are peppered with flies. The vendors eye me out, cautious of me and the camera. I take a photo of a woman and show her the digital image. Suddenly there are shrieks of laughter, the vendors begin to fight for my attention, shoving dried fish close up to my face and nudging me towards their stalls! They all want a photo! I have about 60 ‘posy’ photos of these women! My plan to get a natural shot of them in their work environment had kind of evaporated in the heat of the moment!

I moved on, wandering through the maze-like alley’s of the market, usually with an audience in tow! They are fascinated with the images on my camera. I hear them gasping with wonder, ‘Gee, mesmo, mesmo’  – the same, the same.’ And when they see a photo of themselves, they comment, ‘ Muito Bonita’ (very beautiful) and I laugh to myself at their innocent vanity.

I enter the fruit market and am approached by a madman. He follows and shouts at me for about 15 minutes – which is a hell of a long time if you’re trying to escape from someone! He tells me in Portuguese that he is coming to work tomorrow and that I need to sign the contract. He constantly waves a black notebook in my face, sometimes blurring my perfect shot! I tell him ‘yes, yes’ and shuffle on. Eventually he loses interest.

I enter the meat market, which is mostly empty all except for 2 tables.  With a swish of the hand, the flies separate themselves from the meat on display. There was a goats head which had been slaughtered this morning and a cow from yesterday. The butcher hacks off chunks of meat with his panga and offers  it to me for a ‘good price.’ I tell him ‘not today thanks,’ trying hard not to vomit!

The market is an interesting place indeed. And while I have become somewhat desensitised to the dirty shoppi ng conditions in Mozambique, the shouting and rude ‘branco’ comments, the giggling, shoving and the pleas to buy their produce –  it’s different every time.  No visit to the market is ever the same!