Balogun Market is one of the busiest markets in Lagos, Nigeria. It is located right in the middle of the ever-bubbling financial centre of Lagos Island.
The main market is on the popular Balogun Street which is about two kilometers long. All the houses on this street have been converted to shops and malls while large umbrella sheds of various shapes also line its two sides.
The adjoining smaller streets are all part of the market, so the main Balogun Street and its immediate environs are collectively regarded as Balogun Market with many traders displaying their wares on the floor in the middle of the road; causing traffic jam for people and vehicles.
I knew I was in for an experience immediately I entered the market. There was loud noise everywhere. Street hawkers were shouting and beckoning. Loudspeakers were blaring earsplitting music from every direction. Vehicles were hooting viciously. Traders and customers were haggling prices on top of their voices. It was so exasperating!
As I walked slowly through this swarming market, I got all manners of jabs and kicks. When someone stepped on my toe or mistakenly kicked me from behind, I would receive a soft apology, “Oh, I’m sorry, sir!” On one occasion, I felt like vomiting as I got sandwiched in the crowd. The body odour oozing from several bodies was so disgusting.
At another point, a lady hawker’s voice deafened my ears when she suddenly yelled, “Cold iced water! Cold minerals!” She was carrying a large bowl of iced Coca-Cola drinks, bottled water, and sachet water on her head.
A woman sat on a stool, selling live snails. Standing beside her was an elderly man selling dried crayfish. The inscription on the black bowl in front of him reads, “Happy Family,” but he didn’t look very happy. Maybe he was yet to make a sale that day.
One huge fellow was surrounded by a horde of shoppers busy examining the sizes of shoes, shirts, and trousers he had spread on the floor. He was ringing a bell as he shouted intermittently, “New arrivals, check your size here!”
As I brushed past, a woman jumped in front of me and pleaded, “Sir, come and check my shop. I have nice lace materials.” I smiled.
Food vendors were not left out. I could smell fried plantain and fish as they served their hungry customers.
On my way back, a dirty masquerade decked in rags and charms accosted me; begging for alms. He stank of Indian hemp and beer. As I ignored him and increased my pace, he persisted and doubled the intensity of his plea. A few minutes later, he gave up and disappeared into the thick crowd. Anything goes at Balogun market!
Back in the car, I discovered that my shirt and shoes had been disfigured by different types of stains.
What a great visit it had been for me!
Quite an interesting experience.
I discussed this with a lady colleague and she responded, “Well, that’s what we face everyday as women. It’s good you’ve also had a taste of it.”
It’s true. See why I doff my hat for Lagos ladies.