Bamako - The Iron Market


Bamako is the usual African urban sprawl, where huge landcruisers are tackling the unpaved roads. The Niger River divides the city into two parts, the more modern southern part and the African old town in the north. Once the French colonialists moved the capital to Bamako they installed themselves on a high ridge above town to avoid the interaction with mosquitoes and the locals. The centre of the old town is the Iron market, a sea of shacks, where thousands of people were recycling iron. Car wrecks, iron bars from construction sites and small cans. Everything imaginable and not imaginable was processed. I had to take care not to step into one of the drainages directing garbage to an unknown place. Bamako is always hot, 40 degrees plus, and the coal fired stoves in the shops even pushed the heat further. The place set me back to the early industrial age. A kid with a huge iron hammer was working on a metal plate, while some of his friends were forming nails out of used cans. Behind some other guys were casting some iron manually and an elderly men cooked some tea beside the furnace. The heat was unbearable. Just down the alley some women were preparing the food for the workers: river fish dried in the sun. Having a stroll around here will let you know more about Africa than reading thousand of books. The irresistible mix of hardness and friendliness, desperation and hope, beauty and poverty. Africa is everything at maximum.