Fuggi jaay. That’s an important word to learn when you move to Dakar. It literally means to shake something out (fuggi) and then to sell it (jaay). And it refers to a daily market that travels around the city selling used clothing that vendors purchase in large bundles. They cut open the bundles, shake out the clothes, then sell them.

Saddled up and ready to go!

Back before Pape’s debut en scène, I used to go the Saturday fuggi jaay regularly. In fact, I went so frequently that when our birthing coach suggested I choose a phrase to chant during delivery, the first thing that popped into my mind was, “Pairu daal cinq cent, pairu daala téeméer, pairu daala cinq cent, pairu daala téeméer…” Those who have been to fuggi jaay will recognize that as the phrase shoe vendors call out to say that all shoes cost 500cfa, 500cfa for any pair of shoes…

Washing and polishing shoes before selling

After the demonstrations on Sunday night, things seemed calm on Monday morning so we headed out to do a little shopping.

The pricing system is rather brilliant. Clothes piled on the ground are the cheapest, usually about 300cfa. Clothes folded in stack on tables are around 500cfa and clothes on hangers are about 1,500cfa and up. It’s like rip-off prevention for toubabs. No price tags, but you still have a pretty good idea of what things should cost.

“Pairu daala téeméer…”

It was a great morning for the fuggi jaay. Sunny but not hot. Busy but not crowded. Between haggling and joking around with vendors, Cheikh got breakfast: a steaming cup of café touba and a bag of fresh beignets.

Two hours later, we left with two button-down shirts for Cheikh (1,500cfa, or$3 each) and a couple pairs of 500cfa ($1) overalls and some footie PJs – not for Cheikh. I left empty-handed, although the pile of second-hand bras (Aminata’s Secret) was tempting. Maybe next time…

The goods