A Timely Trade Fair

15th April 2019

The annual Gambian Trade Fair is held at the Independence Stadium in Bakau just a stone’s throw away from our house and lasts all day and night over the space of three weeks. It has provided endless hours of entertainment for our whole family over this short Easter break.

Women – like Fatima – form the vast majority of stall holders
They often leave their stalls unattended – and no one steals anything!
The Predictable: Clothes and footwear at very reasonable prices!
And the Unpredictable: Quacks selling magic potions to gullible customers made us laugh!

The entrance ticket costs only 25 dalasi each (i.e. – Rs 85/=) and once you enter there are rows of white tents stretching into the distance on both sides of you housing stalls selling everything from T-shirts to batik cloth, gardening tools to costume jewellery, electrical goods to bamboo craftwork, woven rugs to herbal remedies – you name it, they’ve got it!

Jordan has of course been there since day one and knows the place like the back of his hand now. He goes with a different gang of friends every day and stays there until the wee hours of the morning! I was frantic for his safety on the first couple of nights but have since learned to trust his excellent social skills and his assessment of risk in a given cultural context.

The Gambia really is an almost insanely crime-free country and our neighbourhood is a very safe one which people (even young teenagers) can walk through without fear any time of day or night. I feel so grateful that Jordan and Rai can experience a way of life like this which gives young people such freedom to grow up in.

Rai and I strolled through the trade fair about a week after it started and enjoyed exchanging small talk and having a laugh with the vendors who have come from all parts of the country to sell their wares here. I was thrilled to see some African clothing that I hadn’t seen before even in the more touristy areas and was happy to buy a few gifts for our nearest and dearest. Rai was ecstatic to find a pair of shoes that she’s been gagging to buy for over a year now but couldn’t find until now.

Paul was also overjoyed to find some gardening tools there that he has been wanting to buy for several weeks now – ever since he decided to dig up a corner of our backyard to make a vegetable patch.

Although we did toy with the idea of visiting neighbouring Senegal over this holiday, we gave it up after we had to dip into our savings to buy our air tickets to return to the UK (Paul) and SL (the kids and me) in the summer.

The trade fair was perfectly timed and has given us the chance to have lots of fun over our two-week holiday.

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