Gorom-Gorom’s Thursday market is the most colorful in Burkina Faso, and one of the best in all West Africa. Its charm lies in the fact that it’s an authentic local market, drawing traders from all around the surrounding countryside. As such, its focus is entirely local, and tourists are simply part of the menagerie.
You’ll see a variety of Sahel and Sahara ethnic groups at the market. The Tuareg are easily identified by their long flowing robes (boubous), indigo turbans and elaborate silver swords, and can often be seen riding proudly on their camels or haggling in the animal market over the price of camels and goats. The Tuareg’s former slaves, the Bella, have taken over many of their erstwhile masters’ skills in leather work, and both the men and the women favor black or gray gowns with wide belts of richly decorated leather. You’ll also see Songhai farmers and Fulani herders (who wear the distinctive, conical straw hats). But it is the Fulani women who most catch the eye. Elaborately dressed, you can recognize them by their vivid, multicolored dresses and complex hairstyles – usually braided and decorated with silver threads, tiny chains and colorful beads. These women carry their wealth with them in the form of beads, bracelets, heavy earrings or necklaces, many of solid silver with dangling Maria Theresa dollars.