Mbour – A Fish Market, African Style

I could almost hear a piano softly playing in the background. The scene unfolding was eerily reminiscent of the movie, The Piano, set in New Zealand in 1850. Of course, this was 2010 in Senegal, and the rhythm of life faster, more abrupt, hungrier, and perhaps even more alive.

The fishing boats coming in before the sunset were unloading their daily catch. Buyers walked into the ocean with buckets on their heads, striving to get there first, yearning to buy the goods that would keep their families alive another day. A man drove his horse and carriage deep into the sea, the horse kicking and gasping for air, barely able to stay above the water while his master negotiated the price of the merchandise.

Women, children and merchants, all waited on the beach. A young boy sold pieces of coconuts, others hustled fruits, meat, plastic bags, shoes – anything anyone might want to buy. They seemed to have waited for hours, knowing that the end of the day was their chance to make their daily bread, to earn enough to fill their stomachs.

The ones who managed to reach the boats first, retreated contently with their bucket-load of fish to the market on the shore , or drove their catch to the luxury restaurants along the beaches.

An hour later, as night crept over the shore, the scene had died and the only trace left of the previous commotion was an odd fish head or two. And if you listened closely, the vague sound of a piano tinkling in the wind.


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