Man Ivory Coast Market Food Stalls

Like most food in the markets, grains are sold in small amounts suited to one day’s cooking. No bartering here but lots of fun shopping…

Man Ivory Coast Market Yacouba Fabrics

Brightly coloured Yacouba fabrics with their detailed textures are a highlight of the Man markets

Known as the city of 18 mountains, the unusually named city of Man on the western border of Côte D’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is sandwiched among jagged verdant mountains popular with visitors for trekking and rock climbing.. A swim at the elegant terraced La Cascade waterfallshidden within a bamboo forest is a reward for a walk from the city centre.

As in much of West Africa, the highlight for me is the market. The first few minutes are a full scale assault on your senses. Noise of frenetic activity, multiple languages (French and local tribal languages) and smells both pleasant and odorous waft through the market.

Man Ivory Coast Market Activity

The vibrant colour and bustle of the Man markets

Stylishly dressed in vibrant patterned outfits and often assuredly balancing precarious large baskets or bowls on their head, women carefully peruse the rich variety of local foods produced from the rich succulent soils. Aubergines, tomatoes, okra (a stubby finger of gooey green vegetable used in gumbo – not my favourite!), soybeans, hot peppers, plantains (like bananas) potatoes, grains, cassava and manioc all sit in small piles (ideal for one day’s cooking) on wobbly wooden trestles or across large sacks. Live chickenslet out an occasional mournful squawk, seemingly resigned to their fate and overwhelmed by the manic activity. Tired, stained banknotes from years of being scrunched up and unfolded repeated reluctantly change hands.

Man Ivory Coast Market Yacouba Masks

Wonderfully carved and decorate Yacouba masks are characteristic of the local Dan people

Behind one table, women flourish razor-sharp knives with the skills of a surgeon nip the woody ends from the hardy white flesh of maniocto prepare them for sale.

On another table, strange balls of what appear to be animal innards look decided unsavoury. Alas, it is small rolls of raw rubber around the size of tennis balls and sold equally enthusiastically for shoes and a host of small rubber components. Ivory Coast is a major rubber exporter to the tyre manufacturers around the world.

Large sacks of grassy threads are sold as traditional medicines. One cures headaches while another assists with malaria. Trying to interpret in my broken French, some are swallowed, some are brewed into teas while yet others are rubbed into the skins. Keen buyers gently roll the strange smelling concoctions between their fingers deciding on the best combination to aid their ailments.

Man Ivory Coast Market Voodoo Dolls and Carvings

The market features ornate carvings and delicate voodoo dolls

A few metres further along wooden masks, exquisitely carved and bedecked with beards of string and grasses stare angrily down at passers-by. Small voodoo dolls in grass skirts and stiff straightened legs stare out from another stand. What appear to be dried bats, animal heads, skins, snakes and plants and any manner of other weird and wonderful fetish ingredients all sit as a pot-pourri on a table, being sold by traditional healers and medicine men for use in the preparation of magic charms, miracle potionsand cure-alls.

Markets are a melting pot of frenzied activity and a highlight of a visit to any West African town.



4 Responses to A Market for Everything (Man, Ivory Coast)

  • I love markets in every corner of the world. In this case, I was fascinated by the sale of grains i an amount needed for one day’s meal – now that’s something I’ve never seen!

    • Mark H says:

      I think the small amounts purely suits the way of life with limited storage and carrying capacity and the mere fact that these people very much live day to day.

  • I was in Abidjan and got see markets like the one you have described…was very surprised to see all kinds of things that i think wont be offered for same here in Ghana…anyway, its a nice country

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Welcome to Travel Wonders
My name is Mark and I’m a keen traveller. In fact, over the last 25 years, I’ve travelled to every continent and over 80 countries. This blog is about the most memorable destinations – the places I regard as the travel wonders of the world. I’m also a keen photographer, and have taken nearly all the photos you’ll see. During my travels, I’ve met some incredible people, seen inspiring places, viewed extraordinary wildlife and scenery and had some amazing experiences, and I’m writing these stories not only to entertain but primarily to inspire others to discover their own travel wonders.
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