[This article is read in English, in its original version].
The Sunday market in Bousalsla always follows the same procedures. Several generations of vendors fill the car park with their seemingly endless spiel: " Come along ladies! God blesses my first customers!" A swarm of determined shoppers perform a frenetic dance to find the cheapest clothes and vegetables in the initial section of the market. Others delve deeper into the crowd to find the more exclusive clothing. The light shifts from blue to red as the sun shines through the red plastic tents of the ephemeral market.
Over the past few years, Bousalsla market has slowly but steadily undergone a transformation, so discreet in fact that no locals are able to pinpoint when it happened. Between 2012 and 2016, several women, primarily from Côte d’Ivoire, joined the regular lineup of vendors.
Every Sunday, on the path that separates the initial from the inner parts of the market, these women cover the ground with textiles on which they display packets of spices, pasta, medicinal herbs etc. These hand-wrapped goods originate from the places that they used to call ‘ home’.
Since the restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were introduced in March, the market in Bousalsla closed down. Only a few weeds have grown where tents and kiosks once stood. These women, like many other undocumented sub-Saharan women, were left to fend for themselves, without any source of income, social security, or legal protection. Three female Ivorian vendors and two of their customers share their firsthand stories of what Bousalsla market meant to them, and how the confinement and restrictions have affected their lives and plans for the future.
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