Thinking about Market Day, I kind of just pictured a multiple little tag sales, but that wasn’t quite what I got when arriving.
At the first Market, Green Market Square, it was similar to a tag sale. You could bargain, try to sift through the many items and find something really special, but it was HUGE!! I found this market very overwhelming to be in. I didn’t know where to go or where anything would be, each table had similar things but then you would stumble upon a table with something new! I never knew where to look or what to look for, I came into the day thinking I would know what I was going to get, but in the end, I couldn’t make up my mind, there was too much for me to look at.
The next market, the Pan African Market was a bit smaller, but still a bit overwhelming. It had a few floors, and each having shops in the hallways and in rooms as well. I liked this one better since I wasn’t as surrounded by tables of goods, but I was able to go into one room at a time. This one was also a little less intimidating than the other one since the vendors were less pushy when asking you to buy something or asking what you wanted. These vendors were more relaxed and willing for you to look, and if you needed anything or looked confused they would be there to help. This one was my favorite!!
Then the next two markets the Blue and Red Sheds were very similar except for the fact that I felt the Blue Shed was a bit more casual than the Red Shed. Although they both were indoors and had more expensive and higher quality objects than the other two markets, I feel that the Red Shed somehow had a more classy feel to it. It had less food stalls and focused more on the items themselves. The Blue Shed was more family oriented I feel since it had those little rides for children that you would put a few quarters in and they will be ridding on a ceramic horse. Whereas the Red Shed had only stalls, there was one family type stall with more fun knick knacks but overall the red had more high end items, jewelry, large paintings, pillows, and over all higher quality objects, or so it seemed.
But shopping wasn’t the only thing we did today. We also went to the O.R. Tambo Exhibit at the Slave Lodge, where we learned a little more about Oliver Tambo from the beginning stages of his life up until his death. We also learned about slavery in South Africa. It was not nearly as big as the Apartheid Museum that we went to in Johannesburg but it definitely had its fair share of information with not only visual learning but auditory as well with video and audio learning in both sides of the exhibit, O.R. Tambo, and the Slave Lodge side as well.
And last but certainly not least, we went to a place called Monkey Biz. They are a non-profit, income-generating bead project that was founded in 2000 that focuses on women’s economic empowerment and health development in the under-resourced areas of South Africa. At this shop the artwork is unique and the artist signs each themselves and all the profits are reinvested back into the community with resources such as soup kitchens, food parcels, and a burial fund for artists and their families.
At first they mentioned that 100% of the profits benefit the community, which I was a bit skeptical about. I didn’t believe how they could give free beads and materials to the woman and still survive as a business but now I understand that they add on a retail amount in order to continually give back to the community. It is my understanding that 100% does not go directly to the communities, but 100% goes towards paying them for their art, buying the materials to continue making the art, and other necessities to improve the communities and help the lives of these women!
I feel that this day was long, but it was worth it. Not only were we able to see the different levels of the communities but we also got some history out of the day and some giving back to the community.
Although I am now exhausted, I think today really helped us see different aspects to South Africa, understand how some of them live, especially after interviewing those at the markets. I didn’t expect to learn so much today, but in the end this was a big learning experience!