Ganila is a very classic and expensive tie and dye and it is among the most respectable dress in town and people often wear it as a sign of prestige and wealth, said to have originated from Mali.
|Tie and Dye seller negotiating price with some customer|
Some local tie and dye (Chube) makers say due to the fact that many people associate Ganila with wealth and prestige, some traders are now “fooling” people by buying the ordinary local tie and dye and packaging it nicely to look like the real Ganila, and sell it at the same price as then original one. However, some Ganila traders have denied this rumour and allegation.
Speaking to this reporter at the just concluded biennial trade fair held in December 2011 organised by the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and held the Independent Stadium in Bakau, Jainaba Drammeh, who was exhibiting the local tie and dye stuff, said many Gambians would come to her stall asking whether her clothes were from Mali. If she answered in the negative they would go, and say the price she charged for local tie and dye was expensive.
Explains Jainaba: “Some people will come and ask whether it is Malian chube I am selling. What is the Malian chube? We too can do better in this Gambia here. These are Gambian chube; it is made by me and my family. People coming here are saying “Is this Mali chube? Is this Ganila?” Some traders dealing in these Malian chubes are beginning to understand that. Some of them will sometimes buy from us and go and make it nicely and sell it as Ganila.
“This is what many people do not understand; there is a secret. We can make quality Chubes up to the Malian standard or even better. Let people buy pure Gambian chubes and compare them to some of the so-called Ganilas, they will see the difference.
“Some of the traders will buy the D300 chubes, which is among the lowest of quality local Chubes, from us, package it and sell it for D500; they will tell them this is the “deysem”- second quality Ganila. And they will buy the other type for D500 or D600 from us and go and sell it for D2,000 or more and tell the people that it is Ganila. They are fooling people, most of the people are not aware of that.”
Ebrima Keita, who was exhibiting Malian chube including Ganila at the Fair, claimed that Malian chubes are more qualitative than Gambian chubes that is why people prefer it.
He dismissed the point that some Malian chube sellers use to buy cheap Gambian-made chubes, package it nicely like Ganila and sell it to people at the price of the real Ganila.
“For me, I am a Malian, but based in The Gambia, my people back home usually send me the pure Malian chubes and also Ganila to sell it here. There quality cannot be compared to that of the Gambian-made. I also made chube here, but I sell those ones at the prices of the local ones and sell the ones from Mali at a higher price because they are of higher quality. I sell Ganila five meters for D3,500 and four meters for D3,000 but there is a discount on both of them.”
Jainaba and Ebrima were exhibiting from different stalls at the trade fair, although they were divided on the issue of the tie and dye, they both lamented there was low sales at the fair.
According to Ebrima, business this time (at the trade fair) is not very good. He said the amount they spent to have a stall to exhibit was too much and they didn’t make much sale. “I am pleading to the organizers (the GCCI) to increase its duration to at least 20 days or more,” he noted. However, the days were extended to 13 days instead of the 11 days as planned before the fair started.
“It is like, my purpose of coming here is defeated because when I was coming I was expecting to make more sales, I was surprised there wasn’t much,” Jainaba Drammeh lamented. “The only thing people buy here is food; they always come to buy food. I don’t know why people are not buying our clothes, but some said it was because people were just from the Tobaski and they had spent heavily during the Tobaski and so are left with little or nothing for shopping again.” The trade fair was held few weeks after the Tobaski.
However, the GCCI, organizers of the trade fair, said trade fair is not meant for people to come and sell, rather it is meant for exhibition. “You are to show people what you have. It’s not a selling ground but an exhibition ground. You come to exhibit to tell people that I have A, B, and C; when you need it take my details and contact me. So basically, trade fair is not for sale but because of the understanding of the people they think trade fair is a place for sale,” said Pansaw Nyassi, business development officer of the GCCI.
He continued: “And also what I want to say is that everything cannot work perfectly for everybody. The first three days some people came to me and said ‘I think we are okay, I have made what I needed to make so I am okay’, but then some people up till now are saying ‘I didn’t see much sales’. So that is how it happens: some will laugh some will frown.”
VIEWS OF INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITORS
Some international participants also spoke to Marketplace. Mrs Macilin from Burkina Faso, had this to say: “Sales is not good with us, people will come and see but not buy; some will say they are going but will come back; we will never see them again. Even though people are really appreciating our shirts, they are not buying. We are selling the same price as we used to sell in Burkina.”
Mrs Macilin was exhibiting traditional hand-woven cotton clothes. She said their price range from D600 to D6000. “But this is not because of the price; because even in Burkina we sell at the same price and people use to buy. Many people are saying there is no money at this time.”
“With this experience, I don’t think I will come back the next time. This is not the first time I have exhibited here, in The Gambia, but the previous years were better than this year. But towards the end of the fair if things are better we may come back the next time,” the international exhibitor said.
She continued: “I paid 500 dollars but we paid half and the other half to be paid at the end of the fair. That is the price foreign exhibitors pay, but for the Gambians is cheaper and that is not fair, they have to put the same price for all the people.
“The organizers have to remember that the international exhibitors come from far away. We came by the road (from Burkina to The Gambia). We incurred the travel cost, and related costs while coming. Again, to exhibit, we pay higher amount than the local exhibitors, I think they should review that decision because to me it’s not fair.”
The GCCI official claimed that international exhibitors are paying more, higher than what the locals are paying because that is the norm in every part of the world.
“Those coming outside pay in dollars and they pay two to three times than the local exhibitors. The is issue is not whether it is fair or not but that is the norm,” Mr Pansaw Nyassi remarked
Another international exhibitor, Grace Mensah, one of the Ghanaian exhibitors whose participation at the Fair was facilitated by Ghana Export Promotion Authority, said: “I sell wood, carved wood, but I have realized that people are only buying necklaces, earrings, and foods. When I was coming, I thought Gambians will buy wood – carved wood- I am so disappointed.”
“I sell wood in Ghana but I didn’t realized that in The Gambia they don’t buy wood, I would have brought a variety of goods, particular goods like necklaces, earrings, foods, which they buy.”
Again, Mr Nyassi of the GCCI said the foreign exhibitors came to The Gambia to show to the Gambians what they have in their country so that if anyone needs it you can contact them to ship it to you. “That is why they are here,” he claimed.
“I think all the Ghanaians understand this because Ghanaian came through their export promotion agency, so they came to exhibit what they have in Ghana, network and build contacts with Gambian and other businesses who are also exhibiting.”
However, not all Ghanaians are aware of this because one of the international exhibitors who spoke to Marketplace is a Ghanaian and her participation was facilitated by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority. In fact she was one of those who were vehemently complaining about the issue of low sales
Mr Nyassi has this to say on the success of the trade fair. “If you look at it holistically you can say it is successful because you have to do a broad analysis; look at the positive comments and the negative comments and weigh them. In that way, through our analysis we have more positive comments than negative comments, so the trade fair is a success.”