The Market

2011 February 2
by Cindy House

I want to share a bit of information about local life here in Malawi in regard to the market and buying the necessities of life.  The market in Malawi is a different experience for me. 

 You have to go to many different places to buy what you need. 

We go to Dear Mama’s, a local chicken raiser/restaurant owner to buy eggs or chickens.  Their chicken houses are kept amazingly clean and you can buy chickens live or dressed and frozen. 

Fruit is sold on the side of the road at random spots where local people set a cluster of buckets filled with the fruit or spread a mat on the ground and make piles of fruit for sale.  You will find seasonal fruit such as papayas, mangos, peaches, bananas, and sometimes strawberries and raspberries. 

If you need vegetables you go to the city open air market where many different venders are set up with baskets of beans, greens and piri piri peppers or piles of tomatoes, potatoes, cabbage, okra, onions, peppers and kasava (a root that is loaded with carbohydrates). 

You select the pile you want to purchase and if you did not bring your own plastic bag you usually have to buy one to carry your produce home.  There is another area of the market where you can purchase rice by the kilogram and also beans and maize.   Fertilizer is in open basket and sold by the kilogram as well. 

If you want to buy a large amount of fertilizer you would go to Agora that sells the 50 kg bags of fertilizer. 

For bread you visit the small shop called Sana Superette or the bakery and you can find white and wheat bread available.  There are sometimes rolls and sweet breads.  For soft drinks you have to go to yet another shop called McConnell’s and they carry Coke and Fanta in about 3 flavors. 

Sometimes they have Sprite and a drink called Sobo Cherry Plum which is very refreshing.  Milk can be purchased at the coffin shop because the coffin builders have a few head of cattle for milking but you must take your empty container to them for filling.  If you have more kwacha (Malawi money) you can buy a soft plastic pouch of milk at the Sana Superette or in the large cities you can by a carton of milk in whole milk, 2% or skim but it is pretty expensive. 

 The city is also where you can purchase a product called fat spread that is like margarine but the 1 kg container costs equal to about $6.50 to $7.00. 

Sugar, salt and cooking oil are best purchased at the wholesaler because the price is good and you will save in the long run.  It is also best to buy your candles, matches and tea from them as well.  The power goes out often and the candles are a necessity. Many of the local villages have a market day once a week where people come from all over the area to buy or sell goods. 

 It is a huge gathering and a time of socializing for them as well as providing for their families.  Lots of children will be found playing, men sitting at benches playing bao and the women catching up with their friends and family. 

This is where you can buy African medicine which is made of roots, bark, leaves and sometimes the berries of local trees and plants.  You will also find pieces of cloth, blankets, basket goods, woven mats and so much more.  There will be butcher’s selling goat and pig with the meat hanging in big pieces all around the stand and a very large skillet cooking up pieces of fat and little bites of the lean meat for purchase.  This is a very popular stand to hang around because you can often get a free bite of the cooked fat and it is a favorite. 

When our friends at the German Orphanage slaughter a cow or pig they will always call me to let me know they have fresh meat to purchase so I can buy it the day of slaughter.  I drive out to their location at around 5 p.m. so I can provide a ride back into the township for the workers who are knocking off work at that time after I make my purchase.  They also sell these wonderful “freezer pops” that are made of fresh yogurt and I can always count on my friend who butchers the meat to give me a frozen treat.  As you can see, gathering the necessities of life is a process that goes on almost daily.  It is not possible to simply head out to get your groceries and return home the same day with what you need.  You must always be including the stops in your daily travels.  The fresh produce and meats are very healthy for so I am enjoying eating the local food and I feel much better in general since changing my diet.  I hope you have enjoyed this infomational blog.  May God Bless you all!

One Response leave one →
  1. Meredith Denton permalink
    February 3, 2011

    Cindy- I am sitting in my living room working on paperwork to send to you for the clinic and across from me is a large pile of medicine samples I have been collecting for our trip. How different from the pic you posted of African medicine! I saved that one to my computer! I appreciate you sharing life in Malawi with us. It is good to for me to pass along to friends and family before I leave. I look forward to visiting with you face to face. Until then, Meredith

Leave a Reply

Note: You can use basic XHTML in your comments. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS