Sellers Versus Buyers - A Game worth Playing

This time of the year in Liberia is usually marked by interesting exchanges in many forms between sellers and buyers. As sellers chant over their goods to attract buyers, buyers get confused as to who to buy from and how to avoid buying duplicate or poor quality products. Many low priced and poor quality goods are imported into the country at this time all because of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. What to buy and what to sell are the biggest questions buyers and sellers ask themselves as they go out to engage each other on a field with no referees. As I walked in the midst of a thick crowd in the Red Light market, I only saw myself surrounded by nothing but sellers. Their stinging breaths coupled with offensive sweat scents made me nauseated, but I could not hold my breath as I was curious to snap a photo of sellers and buyers using their intellectual bargaining powers to overcome each other. “Buy your whole year eating”. Buy it fifty; don’t buy it hundred, that whole year using”. “Buy clothes; don’t buy food”. “Spend money on clothes; don’t act cheap”. “How much, how much move from here”. These are chants that are usually heard in the jam packed Red Light market of Paynesville where many petty traders converge for their daily chores. Despite the courage and enthusiasm to sell, many sellers seem to be challenged by the huge number of sellers concentrated in one locality and selling mostly the same goods for very insignificant profits. Interestingly, not all sellers are real sellers. Some are defined criminals! The RULE OF THUMB IS DON’T SELL IF YOU CANNOT BUY, AND DON’T BUY IF YOU CANNOT SELL. In short, sellers are buyers as well as buyers are sellers.


Hi Saki

Brilliant description. It reminds me of my sense of amazement that just about everyone in Monrovia seemed to be making a living (or trying to) through retail, as there are so few other economic opportunities. A sad waste of human potential perhaps & a hard way to survive: the careful channeling this way and that of small amounts of money and goods, hoping to scrape a little off for oneself here and there.

Though it makes for a vibrant street life and I was horrified to read in the news that the government wants to remove street sellers off the pavements of Monrovia.

Here, as we lose out more jobs to global economic slowdown combined with global competition, we could be going the same way. Though at the moment, the vibrant part of our economy keeps food on many plates through grants, pensions, and money sent home by those who do work. The aged, disabled and children receive some financial support and many people live by having access to a small portion of someone else's grant. So, the same or worse 'waste of human potential', I guess, and all the social ills that come from people sitting at home, without hope.

Another difference is that in South Africa, 'going back to the land' is not an alternative option.

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