Monday, July 6, 2009

Adventures in Jo'burg #2

5224479 Today's anecdote shall cover yesterday's fear, tribulation and challenge - Bruma Flea Market!

Bruma Flea Market (or "Marketworld" as I believe it has been termed) is (I'm told) one of the largest flea markets in Jo'burg, if not South Africa. I'm not sure if I believe that completely, but it is indeed massive. The only real thing it compares to is the annual Village Green flea market during the Grahamstown National Arts Festival. It runs six days a week (Tuesday to Sunday) - I tried to find it last week, and, sadly, missed the forest for the trees - I drove right past it, decided that I couldn't find the damned thing, turned around and came right back (well, actually, went to Eastgate mall for lunch, but you get the gist).

It is also the only flea market I have ever been to (though I'll admit I haven't been to many) that you have to pay for entrance. It's well worth it though! R4.50 gives you endless harassment, street theatre, harassment, and opportunity for great bargains.

bruma-flea-market Yes. It's a cheesy way to phrase it, but you get harassed *that much*. If you walk down the wrong alley (this place has alleys), you'll get ambushed by a half dozen traders insisting that you visit their stalls. They'll choose an item at random, and insist that you purchase it. When you refuse, they state an obscene price (sometimes - to be honest, sometimes the prices where pretty good). When you continue on your way, they'll drop 25% off the price. Then another 25%. Finally, if you continue on your way (with a deaf ear turned to the "But chief, this elephant carving took me days, won't you look at it again? Only R250! Please chief, support me, I haven't eaten in days."), they'll leave you alone to feel like the absolute heel that you are.

However. I got to see my first ever street theatre - some contortionist/dancers who were excellent for street theatre folk - if they joined a circus troupe or professional group somewhere, and spent a little time polishing their act, I would gladly pay R100 entrance to a show of theirs. I also saw a gentleman who styled himself a contortionist and comedian, who dragged an innocent young man out of the audience and proceeded to shamelessly embarrass the man - but he did some great stuff with a ring that was (partially) on fire, and could lie chest-down on the ground and pick up a hat and glasses with his feet and put them on his head/face by bending his torso into a near full-circle. When I say the man is spineless, I'm being entirely literal :)


I also got to see some youths doing what appeared to be a tribal dance, though frankly I've seen much better amateur stuff.

But! No-one attends a flea-market for the shows - they attend for the bargains! What did I find, you ask?

Well, frankly, nothing. About four-fifths of the items on offer were for tourists (it was the big signs saying "dollars, euros, other major currencies accepted here" that gave it away). Sculptures of little African heads, tall and thin sculptures of African warriors, sculptures of elephants. Beaded wire cars. Wooden boards with (you guessed it) African-sculpted chess pieces. Paintings of (waaaaaait for iiiiiiit) African warriors. And so many DVD, CD and computer hardware shops it would blow your mind. Wait, what? Yes, you can get your games and music here, as well as a new laptop, speakers, and a neon-pink wig at the stall next door. 'cause, you know, it's epic.

All of the food stalls (all of them!) proudly declare themselves halaal. Not that I mind, I prefer halaal food (amongst other things, this means that the animals were treated well [or, at least, better than non-halaal] before being slaughtered). Of course, most of the places just took this overboard - falafels, schwarmas, and other fun-to-pronounce food types where the order of the day. I had what was marketed as a "pizza pie", which I assumed was the correct term, but turns out to mean "calzone". Meh, it was nice :D

But I'm now inspired to shop at this place for birthdays, Christmasses and other gift-type events in future. Tacky African Warrior sculptures for *everybody*!


  1. Just FYI, should you purchase an African anything for me, I may be forced to maim you. Or at the very least direct a disparaging remark in your direction. You know, one or the other.

  2. So.... did you buy me a pink wig??

  3. I did not, in fact, buy a pink wig, though I was tempted to get something like it for cosplaying at ICON :)