A marketplace in Bujumbura

Meat stall at the market in the capital of Burundi

A group of butchers is using machetes to chop bony cuts of beef. An incomprehensible kirundi language chatter is set to background by mixed sounds of bones being crushed and hullabaloo of hyperactive flies. A slightly tense atmosphere rises, then it suddenly intensifies. No one seems to be enjoying a company of a white guy with a camera in his hand. The most ordinary handshake, a friendly smile and a short conversation release the stress.

We are visiting the main marketplace in the capital of Burundi. As in any other place of this kind, search for anything specific and you will find it. Name it banana beer, live lizards, foreign whiskey, Chinese sneakers stinking of tacky rubber, forty varieties of pulses or bulky bags of flour, so that just by passing by you can nearly choke.

We stock up with fresh fruit, vegetables and spices. This is also an opportunity to get some incredibly spicy pili-pili peppers, which would serve as an universal condiment for all our meals. Both me and Światek are enthusiasts of spicy cuisine, but the African pili-pili peppers pound all the spiciness records. We both conclude that having a fresh and healthy pepper it is not possible to eat it at once without side effects.

I discern plenty of women arranged in a row. All of them are occupied with selling mandarins and at the same time breast-feeding their children. We leave the market with a back exit.

What I see is far from bright, lively colors associated with Africa. This is an area rejected and forgotten by society. The disabled, mentally ill, people with disabilities, children with hydrocephalus and people suffering from various, often incurable disease, all of them cramped into this limited space. A six-year old who can only move on his hands grasps firmly a leg of mzungu. Presumably, neither tomorrow nor the day after would there be anyone to give a little boy a few hundred francs and to write about what he had just seen. I wish our world not only learns about these places, but also does not forget about their existence.

burundi