First fieldwork impressions

The first few weeks of fieldwork in Tanzania have mainly been about settling in and taking care of practical matters. However, I already had a chance to talk to several mitumba traders who are part of my existing network here, and I passed by a few mitumba markets in Dar es Salaam, Lindi and Mtwara. I for instance learned that middlemen can in a split second recognize the country of origin of a bale of second-hand clothing – and therewith identify its relative value on the local market – by looking at the type of gunny sack used to pack the clothing. I also learned that hawkers and itinerant traders buy their stock from those middlemen on an auction taking place in the early mornings. Moreover, I noticed at the auction place in Mtwara Town that the business provides opportunities for additional informal income-earning activities. The tables used for the auction were surrounded by women selling drinks and food. There were also several banda (sheds) close to the auction place where for instance tailors were sitting who could alter or repair pieces of clothing. The picture below shows this auction place around mid-day, when business is almost over. I plan to visit these auction places at their peak hours in the mornings in the weeks to come.

The second-hand clothing auction place in Mtwara Town around mid-day.

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