When coming to The Gambia, ensure you have additional space for your souvenirs in your suitcase and visit the Kotu Craft Market for all your aesthetic cravings. The waterfront market is where many local artists work and make their livelihoods, using their talent and skills to design, carve and make different artisanal products. Traditional masks, animal figures, African lady statues, bowls, and paintings are some artwork you will see when you walk into the green and white painted joint workspace.
Another fantastic thing to note is that you will find tailors sewing colourful African dresses, and you can customise your clothing to feel your choice of vibrancy of colours. Jewellery made of beads or cowries will stand out when you wear them, so make sure you grab some.
The market is an ample open space where you can find different products of your choice, with over 50 shops and over 100 men and women selling and creating art pieces. Asides from art, there are also restaurants and shops for you to take a break and enjoy food and refreshment after a long sunny day. A friendly shoe doctor sits at the centre of the market under the small mango tree, where you can get beautiful shoe polish or even fix your broken shoe for a reasonable price.
You can even enjoy drumming lessons upon request. When the market is less busy, vendors will gather to play a chess game called DAM under the small mango tree. A central spot where even guests, who wish to learn the Gambia chess game, can join. Of course, the oldest traditional game Wurray is also one of the games you can enjoy playing. You will get to know the rules quickly if you don't know them yet.
Like every other market in The Gambia, traders will always try to get visitors' attention by showing them their products and persuading them to buy. It can be a bit stressful, but only on the first-time visit. As a repeat visitor, you get a different approach and see that the vendors are friendly and welcoming. Negotiating price in the Gambian market is always a practice, so train your negotiation skills before coming. You can also check some of the rules for buying at the markets here.
Your visit to these local markets will make a difference in vendors' lives as you directly support the destination's economy and artists' business.