• Fieldnotes

Conversations at the marché de Sor, Saint-Louis

24 January 2018

As a part of their project on Re-profiling Street Food, the researchers from Gaston Berger University interview a few people at the marché de Sor. The marché de Sor is the most influential market in Saint-Louis, Senegal and central to the commerce, culture and activity in the country’s original capital. These interviews include members of authority, customers and vendors. The responses vary between the groups with the authority figure and customers agreeing that changes are need while the vendors demur from any such claim.


Interview with Boubacar Diop - Member of the enterprise committee of marché Sor-June 20, 2017 in the committee office (translated from French & Wolof to English).

Mr. Diop presented the committee as a group of traders in marché de Sor in all fields. The committee acts as a mediator for any conflict that may arise between traders, but also represents the traders of the administrative, municipal, police and customs authorities. The mandate of the committee is therefore the peaceful management of disputes that may arise in the context of the contract. In this sense the determination of the supplier is a matter of the individual choice of the traders. There may be as many suppliers as there are traders. As a result, it is impossible to say whether the plants available on the market contain pesticides or are grown naturally. He considers that even traders cannot say with certainty if they have natural products. Only the peasants are in a position to make this assertion. With regard to the supply of local products, Mr Diop said that it was primarily the responsibility of the State, specifically that the State decided to open the territory to agricultural imports, for example onion, rice or Sugar, when agricultural production does not cover demand. By cons for vegetables, they are mainly produced locally.

The availability of products depends on the season, the development of vegetable crops in Saint-Louis means that the vegetables are abundant during the dry season, resulting in a surplus production, eventually being discarded due to lack of preservation. On the other hand, wintering inaugurates the scarcity of these commodities and thus implies a rise in prices. Returning to the history of the market, he tells us that it was created before independence, the name tënjingeen refers to the well that was on the current market location held jigeen nor become tënjingeen. The market is built on an old cemetery for white people, the bones were moved to the new Christian cemetery and the place behind the fruit stands was the Saint Louis Independence Square. Mr. Diop shares his feeling about the current situation of the market, for him the market suffers from a total lack of organization. The management of the market is the responsibility of the municipality, however, the municipal authorities do assume responsibility for the chaos prevailing in the market. Not only is the market not structured according to the products, but also the promiscuity and insecurity are permanent and could be fatal in case of fire, which often happens in markets arranged in this way.

The growing demographics of the market are therefore not accompanied by an expansion of space allocated to the market. The committee had plans to build a building to house the market with several levels, and had even benefited from a loan possibility of BSIC 400 million, but the city council opposed it. When asked why he was opposed, he told us that this question should be asked of the town hall. He goes on to say that the only thing that interested them was politics. The market pays millions every day in municipal taxes, but there is no return in terms of investments. If it were possible, it would radically change the market, it is imperative that the space be modern, with functional and functional toilets, and an organization in compartments according to the products. He concludes with these words "market gumba dangay lambatu ba a g fanga jëm".



Interview with Soda Mariame Diallow - Owner of restaurant Chez Dasso in Saint-Louis, Senegal. July 22, 2017 in Chez Dasso (translated from French to English)

Soda Mariame Diallow was born in Saint-Louis and has been shopping at marché de Sor for what she describes as “forever.” Before she opened her restaurant in 2016, she shopped at marché de Sor for her family and personal groceries. Ms. Diallow described organic produce as “very important” and claimed to only serve organic food at Chez Dasso. She buys her fish and shrimp at marché de Sor but her vegetables from a farm in Bango (bio produce?). When asked to describe her experience at marché de Sor, Ms. Diallow said it is not only a space to buy produce, but also a place of socialization. She said when she visits marché de Sor she talks to many people and has a relationship with the vendors with whom she buys from. Ms. Diallow said she would change “many things” about marché de Sor. The issues that she identified are as follows: marché de Sor is dirty (you walk through stagnant water), there is waste everywhere, and products are disorganized. While she did not witness any changes overtime, she said the prices fluctuate and are higher during the rainy season. To her knowledge, most restaurants use produce from marché de Sor.

Interview with Kantome Fall - Previous owner of restaurant La Crêperie in Saint-Louis, Senegal. July 22, 2017 in La Crêperie (translated from French to English)

Kantome Fall was born in Saint-Louis and has been shopping at marché de Sor for over ten years. She claims to frequent marché de Sor about every two days. When asked if she values products that are organic over non-organic products, she answered simply “yes.” Her reason for shopping at marché de Sor rather than other markets in Saint-Louis is because it has the most competitive pricing. Ms. Fall said that she would like to see the conditions of marché de Sor-namely: sanitation, organization and space-improve.


Interview with Khadija Diallow - Vendor at marché de Sor-June 23, 2017 at marché de Sor (translated from French to English)

Khadija Diallow was born near Saint-Louis and began working as a fruit at marché de Sor in 2009. All of the fruit that she sells come from a farm in Dakar and she claims it is all organic. She claimed to have visited the farm where she met the owner, but could not give the name. Ms. Diallow confirmed that there is a change in the price of produce throughout the year, but did not give further details upon questioning. Ms. Diallow began working at marché de Sor because she claimed she « didn’t have a choice.” She claimed to begin school but was obliged to drop out in order to begin working. Each day, Diallow said she arrives at marché de Sor at 8am and leaves at 7pm. When asked if she has noticed a transformation in marché de Sor overtime, she began to describe a time when there was very little-to-no produce available at the farm in Dakar where she gets her fruit, but quickly asked me not to record the rest of her answer. In Ms. Diallow’s opinion, the most essential quality of a market is the fish. When asked what her vision was for the market, she responded that she would not want to change anything and there is already a space for the community close by (she pointed to the garden just before Faidherbe Bridge)

Interview with Bige Ndiaye - Vendor at marché de Sor-June 23, 2017 at marché de Sor (translated from French to English)          

Bige Ndiaye was born in Saint-Louis and began working as a vegetable vendor at marché de Sor when she was 18 years old in 2002. She claims that all of her products are organic and come from her sister’s farm in Dakar. During the rainy season, Ms. Ndiaye said that the products are more expensive than the dry season. When asked if she has noticed changes in the market since she began her work in 2002, Ndiaye simple said “yes, I have seen many changes overtime,” but neglected to provide further details. Ndaiye said that she “would not like to change anything (about marché de Sor). It is good the way it is.”


Author: Molly Loftus