Sunday, June 29, 2008

Everybody's Hustling -- In A Good Sense of the Word

In Abidjan, everybody's hustling. I don't mean this in the bad sense of the word. This a country where, if you are uneducated and lucky enough to have a job, perhaps you make U. S. $2.00/day. Maybe you can only make $1.00, and that might or might not be enough to buy enough food to keep you going.

The lady below is just one of hundreds I saw by the side of the road carrying on their produce business on their heads. I'm not sure where people get what they are selling. If this were Samoa, it would have been from garden plots they have outside town. Maybe these people come in for the day from villages. Maybe they buy their goods from relatives or friends -- in effect, from a wholesaler. I was told that many of the people selling pineapples go down to the wharves very early in the morning and get their pineapples free because the fruit they are given has been deemed toi ripe to ship.
How people manage a living always fascinates me. It also makes me realize how lucky I am.

The next two photos are of street salesmen selling their wares. There's a bridge in Abidjan where traffic goes very slowly, and as the cars creep along, young salesmen like these walk slowly by cars, trying to make eye contact with the drivers, and trying to sell whatever they are carrying..

It looks like this first young man is selling photo frames and "Welcome" door mats. He has lots of competition because the other young man in the picture below the first is selling the same things. They're probably just two of dozens with identical wares.

I saw alarm clocks, tool kits, boxes of kleenex, paintings and many other items being sold by these young men. I was told that most of them are from other countries, have no education, and work in this line of business simply because they have no other way to earn enough to pay for their daily food and accommodations. You have to admire anyone with enough fortitude to get out there in the strong, hot sun and work like this.

And you have to realize that this is a desperate business. If you don't sell enough during the day, you won't have enough for food that evening and the next morning. My overall impression of Cote d'Ivoire is that although there are some very wealthy people there, the majority of the population lives very close to the edge.


Billy said...

The street vendors are something seen all over the world. It surprises me how even though I live far from Côte d'Ivoire, there are similar things here. I see street vendors all the time and people selling produce on the street or in markets. Unfortunately, it's the way many are forced to make a living in this people-saturated world.

I do think it's good that people try to do something, though. It's better than just sitting around begging for money.

Nice pictures and great blog. :)

Nail Biter said...

Thanks for your nice comment about my blog. For many people, being a street vendor is the only possible way to enter the economy.

TID Staff said...

what's really heartbreaking about this is that despite the fierce struggle for survival, the working conditions and the abject poverty, that young man on the bottom is still able to produce a winning smile and is happy to pose for your photo. and here i sit in nyc, surrounded by millions of rude, frowning, overfed americans like myself, obsessed with material possessions and pop culture. love your blog, it's truly a gem to stumble upon. peace.