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Cries of Yaoundé No 8

No. 8: Hortense

For fifteen years Hortense has been leaving home at 5am. She picks and chooses her peppers, garlic and ginger. By 6am she is ready to sell. Customers arrive early at Mfoundi market. By 4pm she hopes to have sold her stock, although times are harder now and often she takes the ‘marchandise’ back home. She moved to Yaoundé aged 36 in 2002, as a single mother escaping field work and with ambitions to put her child in school. Selling peppers paid the rent and the private boarding school where she sent her son and the training courses that followed. Recently though, selling at the market has got harder. ‘L’argent ne sort pas’. She makes 20,000 CFA a week (£27) and still has kids to support – two orphaned nieces, school-age. With the lack of formal employment in the Cameroon young people are looking for ways to live and trying their hands at the market but competing with, and eventually pushing out, established sellers. Working the market is also about friendship, gossip, laughter and energy. She plans to move into peanuts: dry stock, stable prices and from a quiet corner, closer to home.

The minimum wage in the Cameroon is 36,270 CFA (£50) per month source:

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Art historian of eighteenth century British art writing a book about depictions of the French in English graphic satire. Interested in art, satire, ethnicity and identity

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