Madina is the biggest market in Conakry, Guinea. It is located in the middle of the capital and anyone can go there and shop for whatever they need. As you approach the market, you see tall brown buildings and colorful rainbow umbrellas; you also start hearing noises because there are lots of people everywhere. Guinea is not always clean, some places in Madina are very dusty or smell like garbage. However, the majority of the population are use to it, therefore, it doesn’t bother much. Furthermore, whenever I heard about Madina while I was growing up, I used to smile brightly; it was the place my parents used to buy me pink and purple toys because these were my favorite colors. They also used to buy me clothes such as skirts and picture books of animals and little princess that I used to enjoy coloring. Because Madina is the most popular market in town, most Guineans interact there while shopping for all the things they need.
Madina is a very crowded market, which made it all the more enjoyable most of the time. Hearing the loud voices as I approached always made me excited because chatting with open-minded people can make your day much better. Outside the market, you see umbrellas in all the colors of the rainbow, stacked rows of black and brown tables with men and women seated or standing behind them. You also see yellow taxis and black and grey sedans jostling each other in the street, rushing in and out of the entrance. One day, when I was eleven, my mother’s foot accidently collided with an armed officer in a navy blue uniform there and she fell on her face. I could see blood flowing down her knees; she was exhausted and couldn’t walk properly. Suddenly an ambulance appeared to drive us from the market to the hospital. I had cried when I saw the crowd around us because I thought she would never walk again. Luckily, she recovered after few months. The crowd at Madina is very stimulating but it can get ugly when everyone comes together in a big rush.
Another impressive thing about Madina market is its strong women. When you go there early in the morning, the first people you see are women. They come and set up to sell fish, meat and vegetables as well as prepared foods such as chicken soup, salads and wheat brown breads, all of which smell delicious. They also sell clothes in different styles such as Guinean traditional clothes, they also sell necklaces and rings and other valuable things that we need. You see also some women in their African pattern clothes carrying babies on their back while carrying heavy merchandise on their head to sell. It is a very hard task but they need to sell things to survive. It is just amazing to see these women try to do things that only men tend to do. One of our neighbors sells fish and meat in Madina. She is very motivated to wake up every day and conduct her business. I know that she is satisfied because whenever I meet her in Madina market, she is sheering up those around her. I respect all of those women because at the end of the day, any work you do to better yourself is what matters.
There are strong guys all over the market as well, to help you with heavy loads. You have to give them money but not a lot. We need to buy big bags of rice and sugar and do enough shopping to last us months, so whenever we go there without my brother or father, we need these men to help us get our goods to the car. The men are very muscular and they usually wear black outfits, so that people can recognize them. They carry the goods on their back. Having these types of services is not only very beneficial to the customers; it provides a source of livelihood for these individuals.
The people who sell items in the market are very friendly and outgoing in general. They are always smiling and calling out to customers to try their merchandise. Sometimes, even if you are not planning to buy something, you end up getting it. One day, during back to school week, I went to Madina with my mother and older sister to purchase books and backpacks for school. My mother was planning to buy these items in different boutiques, but when we arrived at the first boutique, we found that they had everything we needed there. The problem, however, was that most of the products were too expensive. My mother wanted us to move along since the market is big and there are always other options. But this lady in long straight hair, red pixie pants and a yellow long sleeve top came to us and started making a pitch in a cheerful tone. She was tall and had long straight hair. Her name was Ms. Bah, and she declared herself to be the owner of the stall. She noticed that we wanted to move away, so she went on showing us different bags, shoes, pencils and notebooks. The bags and shoes in particular were soft and seemed so comfortable. As both my sister and I became more and more convinced by Ms. Bah’s knowledgeable advice, my mom also changed her mind and we got everything we needed in that particular boutique. From then on, that was the only place we bought school supplies from and we actually formed a good relationship with her. Sometimes, she reduced prices for us and she always informed us of the promotions coming up. From this experience, I learned that it sometimes only takes one knowledgeable person to change your mind completely.
Madina market is not only a great environment that most Guineans enjoy, it is one of the places that mean a lot to me. I have both good and bad memories that have made it a great experience to me. The Guineans I used to meet in Madina have impacted me in many ways; because of that experience, I am able to work in team and collaborate well. I always felt happy whenever I had to go to the market. I can’t wait to go back in Guinea to see that swelling crowd.