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Tag: Dakar Markets

Karité: The West African Wonder Balm

With one single pot of Karité (or Shea Butter as it’s more commonly known) you would be well equipped to deal with most of your skin and haircare needs, and many of your medicinal ones too. This multi-purpose wonder balm, a staple in most West African homes, is truly a superfood for the skin.

Karitè nuts, photo by Andrea Moroni
Karitè nuts, photo by Andrea Moroni

Karité is an edible oil that comes from the nut of the Karité tree, a species indigenous to West and Central Africa. As it’s extracted by hand, the oil retains all of its amazing natural properties such as vitamins A and E and essential fatty acids, which are the key to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and healing powers.

When raw and unprocessed, it’s thick and golden, with a wonderfully sweet, minty smell. It’s sold at markets all over West Africa in huge slabs, of which smaller pieces are sliced off. Though solid, like a bar of soap, it melts easily when rubbed into warm hands for a few seconds.

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Karitè at the Malian market in Dakar
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The Karitè I purchased was being kept wrapped in a tree root to preserve its freshness

Women in the region have known about its beautifying and anti-aging properties for thousands of years; it provides deep moisture for dry skin and hair.

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Karitè is an excellent moisturiser for dry and curly hair
Karitè is an excellent moisturiser for dry and curly hair

Because it’s anti-inflammatory, it helps soothe a host of skin conditions such as acne, scars, stretch marks, psoriasis and eczema. And as its 100% natural, it’s suitable for even the most sensitive of skins, as evidenced by its widespread use for baby massage, and protecting against nappy rash.

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I use Karitè as a lip balm and on the delicate neck and chest area as it has low levels of naturally occurring UV to help protect against the sun

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Karité also has medicinal properties; it soothes muscle pains and works wonders when rubbed into an aching lower back. It can help ease cold symptoms when rubbed into the chest, and sinus congestion in the nose. Mildly antiseptic, you can even use it as an ointment for minor cuts, burns and insect bites.

Karité is, quite simply, a miracle product. I’m not sure how I ever managed without it!

You can find Karité at markets across West Africa. US based company 24KariteGold produce high quality 100% raw and wild crafted Shea butter, made for them by a women’s cooperative in Ghana. By purchasing this product you actively support a sustainable economy for the women employed at the cooperative and their families.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Palm Tree Tea by adding your email address to the form on right!

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Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market

 

Lou Bess? founders Raquel Wilson and Caamo Kane
Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market founders Raquel Wilson and Caamo Kane

There is no shortage of small, local producers doing amazing and innovative things with food, health and beauty products here in Senegal. But until recently it was hard to find out about the full range of artisanal goods on offer, and be able to purchase them easily and conveniently in one place. Step in Raquel Wilson and Caamo Kane, who came up with the inspired idea to bring all the producers together and create the Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market.

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Wilson, a communications consultant and brand development specialist, and Kane, a doctor-in-training, share a strong personal interest in food, wellness and supporting local economies. Lou Bess? (meaning ‘What’s New?’ in Wolof) is their way of combining all these interests.

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Nyara, founded by Dr. Aisha Conte (centre) offers natural beauty products and food supplements including baobab oil, liquid black soap, powdered ginger and custom-blended teas.
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A selection of products from Nyara
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Virgin coconut oil from Bégué Coco
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Savonnerie Francisco’s luxurious organic soaps are made with shea butter, neem oil and olive oil and are gentle enough to use on babies due to their all-natural ingredients.

The market is a buzzing social event where people come not just to stock up on groceries, but to meet old friends and make new ones, eat tasty food, and talk to the independent farmers, bakers, chefs, and health and wellness entrepreneurs who are eager to share their knowledge and their passion.

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Community spirit at Lou Bess?
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Fun for all the family (Imagination Afrika provides a dedicated play area for kids)

The vendors at Lou Bess? benefit from Wilson’s background in branding and receive advice and help with their business development plans. They are encouraged to share and spread knowledge amongst each other to create new networks, and develop a mutually supportive environment.

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A selection of the products available include: fruits and vegetables, hot pepper sauces, smoked cheeses, chutneys, fresh juices, teas, spices, and an assortment of delicious baked goods. Everything is 100% made in Senegal and often has a distinctly local flavour. Bissap ice-cream anyone?

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Organic produce from Taru Askan Farms
Taaru Askan Farms sell a variety of seasonal and organic  fruits and vegetables including produce not commonly grown in Senegal such as Fennel and Bok Choy, at competitive prices.

Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market is much more than simply a platform for selling; it’s an exciting new community that brings together local food-lovers, nurtures a diverse and growing collection of vendors and provides the chance to support local agricultural producers and entrepreneurs while having a fun day out. What’s not to love?

 

Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market takes place on the first Saturday of every month. The next market is on Saturday 6th February from 9 – 15h in front of the Ngor Restaurant on the Corniche des Almadies. See their website for more details.

Images courtesy of Lou Bess? Dakar Farmers Market.

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Fally Sene Sow : a Unique View of Dakar’s Busiest Market

Fally Sene Sow
Fally Sene Sow

Artist Fally Sene Sow takes us soaring high above the city streets to give us a bird’s eye view of the action in Colobane, one of Dakar’s most popular markets. With his use of urban motifs and assortment of found objects, Sow’s intricate multimedia collages provide a modern take on the ancient Senegalese art of Sous-verre (‘under glass’ painting).

Mbaaru colobane
Mbaaru Colobane

Colobane – where Sow grew up and still lives – has become the city’s biggest flea market for clothing, books, electronics and a plethora of other new and second-hand items. The tonnes of used clothes from the West that find their way to Colobane each year have created a sector which employs over 24,000 people who work in the sorting, washing, repairing, trading and distribution of second hand garments and accessories.

Colobane Fëgg Jay Balba
Louma Colobane
Louma Colobane

There is a popular saying that “You can find anything in the world at Colobane Market” and just like the real market, anything and everything can be found in Sow’s collages: cut outs from photos and magazines, tin foil, pieces of string, scraps of fabric, chewing gum wrappers, and even tufts of sheep’s hair.

Tabaski Dakar 2015
Tabaski Dakar 2015

The elevated perspective takes us away from the traffic, smog and noise and shows us a beautiful, multi-coloured patchwork created by the market stall awnings and glittering zinc roofs. But everything looks fragile and delicate, reminding us of the physical frailty and impermanence of these ‘shops’ and the precarious livelihoods of the stall-holders themselves.

Nawétu colobane 2015
Nawétu Colobane 2015

Colobane, as with many other informal African markets, doesn’t have a legal basis for its existence; it could be forced to dismantle, move or close down at a moment’s notice. Sow’s portrayals of market life are not only visually striking but serve as documentation of an area, a community, and a way of life that although seemingly very rooted is, in reality, anything but.

 

If you’re in Senegal and interested in purchasing Sow’s work, email him at fally2009@live.fr

If you live in Europe contact Gallery 23 for information: galerie23@sbk.nl 

Watch a short video of Fally talking about his work here (in French).

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Kinkeliba : the West African Super Tea

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In Senegal, Kinkeliba (Seh-Haw in Wolof) is the most popular of the bush teas. But despite amazing healing properties and higher antioxidant levels than Green tea, it’s not widely known outside West Africa.

The leaves of this shrub – when dried and boiled – produce a strong, earthy-tasting tea which is mineral-rich and caffeine-free.

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Dried Bissap (Hibiscus) and Kinkeliba at Tilene Market in Dakar
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Bag of dried Kinkeliba leaves

It’s drunk all year round but is especially popular during the colder months, and is used by Muslims to break the fast during Ramadan.

A non-exhaustive list of Kinkeliba’s health benefits would go something like this: aids liver disorders, sleep problems, digestion, skin complaints such as eczema and acne (due to anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties), general convalescence after illness, detoxification, and can be applied during the final rinse to strengthen dry and brittle hair. If that wasn’t enough, research suggests it may be beneficial in the treatment of Type 2 Diabetes.

No wonder Kinkeliba is said to have mystical properties and is referred to as “tisane de longue vie” or infusion of long life.

Here’s how to make it:

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Add 20g of dried Kinkeliba leaves to a pot with a litre of boiling water
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Boil for 20-30 minutes until the water turns orangey-red (to make a weaker tea steep a tablespoon of leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes)
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Add sugar or honey to sweeten, or mint, lemon or milk to your taste
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And voila, enjoy your refreshing West African antioxidant hit!

If you live in Senegal, you can find Kinkeliba leaves at most markets and supermarkets. In the United States, you can purchase Kinkeliba from a fantastic company called Saafara Teas, founded by Senegalese entrepreneur Ismael Diagne.

Diagne’s mission is to bring the healing herbal teas of West Africa to the world, while helping those who harvest the plants in Senegal. A percentage of each box of tea purchased goes towards improving facilities in the local community.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Palm Tree Tea by adding your email address to the form on right!

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Marvellous Market Finds

Dakar has a thriving market scene; you can find arts and crafts, antiques, textiles, food and much more from all over Africa. It’s particularly well known as a mecca for textiles, with a huge variety to choose from.

There are markets that specialise (such as HLM for fabrics, Soumbedioune for crafts, Cour des Orfèvres for jewellery) and markets that sell everything (Sandaga, Colobane). Year round markets, and seasonal markets such as the DWG Christmas Fair and La Braderie at Place du Souvenir.

Recently we have had two very welcome additions on the market scene, Lou Bess?  a monthly farmers market, and Keur Marie Ganaar in Mermoz. Look out for more on both in a future post.

This year as a Christmas present, I thought I’d put together a ‘goodie bag’ of some of my recent finds.

Wax print bags from the DWG Christmas fair
Wax print bags from the DWG Christmas fair

Here’s what’s inside:

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Wax print earrings from the craft market at Marche Kermel
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Handmade soaps from Senegalese natural cosmetics company Chouette Mama (in karité, Bissap and Argile flavours). You can find their stock at Layu.

My best find were these small leather coin purses from one of the stalls by the Monument de la Renaissance. (Cheikh’s stall to be precise, in the middle with the orange tarpaulin over it).

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And not exactly a market find, but I thought this tropical jam gift set from local company Zena were great.

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The flavours are unusual (Baobab, Tamarind, Cashew etc.) and the jams are sample sized, so your lucky recipient gets to try all the flavours. They also do a range of chillies and savoury sauces, and are available in most supermarkets in Dakar.

The completed 'goodie' bag
The completed ‘goodie’ bag

Other ideas of what you could include: wax fabric, peanuts/cashew nuts, and dried Bissap flowers for making tea.

What would be your must haves for a Dakar Christmas goodie bag?

Lou Bess? takes place this Saturday  5th December from 9-15h along the Corniche des Almadies. La Braderie is on Saturday and Sunday  5th and 6th  December from 10-19h at Place du Souvenir.

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