Very unusually, I have spent a whole three weeks in Dakar. Three weeks of ‘normal’ life, going to the same office every day, finding time for visits to the supermarket… Quite mundane, but in a way a nice change.
Within that context, in fact, the visit to the supermarket was a big event, as it is a big new supermarket, with lots of imported food, so there was a bit of a buzz amongst ex-pats about this exciting new development.
It was, indeed, impressive. But in fact I mostly window-shopped, admiring the products but gawping in disbelief at the prices. I don’t miss taramasalata so badly that I would pay £3 for a tub the size of a small yoghurt! Nice to know it is there if you want it though, I suppose.
More basic foodstuffs have been more of an issue for the bulk of the population during the last month. The government announced a number of price reductions in some basic goods – rice, cooking gas, bread, etc. However this was not as generous as it seemed, as they did not offer to fund those price cuts. So the bakeries, finding that they were expected to reduce the price of bread by around 15% whilst the price of the ingredients (basically flour) remained unchanged, went on strike. We had no bread for four days. But the government didn’t back down so the bakers went back to work and reduced their prices – funding it by reducing the amount of flour going into the bread. So a baguette is now 15% cheaper, but also 15% smaller.