Where: Gorom Gorom, Burkina Faso, West Africa
What’s in Store: Colourful tribes, wild and unique foods and local handicrafts
Best Buy: Dates & camels
Where it’s at
Heading northeast from Ougadougou into the desert, you reach Gorom Gorom, one of West Africa’s most popular market towns. The market takes place every Thursday and is Burkina Faso‘s largest and most colourful markets.
Gorom Gorom is unique in Burkina with its incredible array of colourful inhabitants. The Peul Fulani are a cattle herding people with heavy tattooing and facial scarification. The Peul woman are renown for having large, black tattoos over their mouths and beautiful jewellery. The Mossiare Burkina’s major ethnic group and are remarkable for their history as the only nation over the last 1000 years to not only resist the imposition of Islam but also the only nation to successfully defend themselves against the enormous empires of Ghana, Mali and Songhai. The Tuareg are the famous desert nomads wrapped in indigo robes and turbans who have for centuries run trans Saharan camel caravans swapping desert salt for daily necessities. The Bella tribe were originally Tuareg slaves, but even after gaining their freedom they continue their nomadic existence although to a reduced extent.
What’s in store
A visit to the Gorom Gorom market is a colourful experience with all these diverse groups present selling anything from camel milk and traditional soap to Chinese batteries and Nescafe.
The best day to visit is Thursday. In addition to African cotton prints, Tuareg silver, beadsand leatherwork, including sandals, scabbards and bags, you’ll also find the food of the desert: dates, lait caille (curdled milk), sweet tasting tamare (a wild, red bean-like fruit sold in the form of a ball and used by the nomads as a thirst quencher) and gib-gib, a large rock-like sweet made from crushed seeds. The animal market, where camels, goats, sheep, donkeys and cattle are all traded, is just beyond the nearby town pond.
By Jess Halliday