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|Liberia – A Christmas Story: Happy - Sad Holiday for Hawkers and Shoppers Alike||| Print ||
|Written by Gboko John Stewart, Special To FrontPage Africa|
|Monday, 24 December 2012 00:00|
Monrovia - David Tamba pushed his way through the crowd selling female slippers on Mechlin Street. In a red shirt and a faded black denim pants, beads of sweat streamed profusely from his head onward his face, sometimes in his eyes blinding him temporarily. He occasionally wipes it with a handkerchief he keeps in his back pocket.
“To look for money ain’t easy,” he says with a streak of smile, revealing a row of uneven teeth. A student of the G.W. Gibson High School, David is among hundreds of students who sell only during Christmas to earn that extra cash as school gets set to open for the next term.
A strategy by the government to make Christmas rosy for high school students by giving jobs via community service went terribly wrong last year when thousands took to the street wreaking havoc, all in demand of their monies. It took the magic wand of President Sirleaf to bring it to a screeching halt.
“Making your girlfriend happy this Christmas —buy her slippers so she will love you,” he shouts to an approaching young male imminent customer.
In chitchat with FrontPageAfrica, barely hearing his own voice due to the noise from buyers and sellers alike, he says business has been thriving, with some days being good or bad.
“I started selling since the fifteenth of this month, before school could close. Some of the customers can be very picky but at least I can make profit every day. I buy from a Lebanese guy down Water Street. Sometimes, he gives goods to people to sell and you get a commission but I’d rather sell for myself.”
He revealed that he stays on his own in the slum community of Buzzy Quarters and when his father died in the latter part of 2011, that was when all his woes begun. “…I was living with my father but he died from pressure."
"I’m 21 right now and I’ll be 22 on February 26. When school opens, I won’t have the time, so the only time I have to earn something is when school is closed. We are a group of boys in one room and so whatsoever we have, we share it. My father didn’t show me any relative who at least I can run to when I’m in need.”
‘Dokafleh’ versus imported
On Randall Street Waterside sits Mardea Williams, selling used clothing. On sunny Friday afternoon, just days to Christmas, business has taken a downward spiral with customers opting for imported clothing.
“This Christmas is not good. I’m not getting profit because customers want all these imported clothes that are coming from China,” she said.
Mardea laments that during previous years when there was limited or no demand for imported clothing, business was at its all time best. “Since all these fake clothes started coming from Asia, people can hardly look because us that sell Dogafleh.”
Dogafleh are hand down clothes from the Americas and Europe which is often found in the ‘bend down boutique.’ Because it is cheap and affordable, many Liberians don it.
Those in the Dokafleh business flourished prior to the 2005 elections. Following the seating of a new president in 2006 and the subsequent establishment of diplomatic relationship with China, Dogafleh dealers have seen a stiff competition from other Liberians thronging to China for the “Made in China” brand of clothes.
Mardea says clothing from Asia, especially China, is not durable. “ It can’t last long at all. Everything is so fake. I bought my son one shirt and it didn’t even last two weeks, the thread was loosening. If that shirt was Dogafleh, it would have lasted ever so long. And the frustrating part about it, it’s too expensive.”
Johnny Nimely, a retail value boy (seller of China brand) on Carey Street says customers are trickling in slowly. “Most of my customers are from the banks but I don’t know what happened, they are hardly coming
Asked whether it was the prices of his goods that were eluding customers, he rhetorically added, “Hang your coat where your hand can reach.”
|Last Updated on Monday, 24 December 2012 08:24|