Yugu-yugu

Young men selling used  Broni-wewu shoes in a market the town of Tamale, northern Ghana

Young men selling used Broni-wewu shoes in a market the town of Tamale, northern Ghana

In the markets in Africa one finds all kinds of wonderful used clothes. They can be nicely arranged, or just in a pile that you paw through. There is everything, shoes,  underwear, shirts, blouses, coats, sweaters, lingerie, anything. The clothes arrive in bales at the ports where they are purchased by merchants who transport them into the most remote village for sale.

From these piles of clothes, called yugu-yugu in Burkina Faso, we clothed our children with high-quality brands like Oshgosh B’gosh in pristine condition at a small fraction of the original cost. Of course, sometimes people buy things and wear them without knowing what they are, which can create some humorous relief for us. I saw a small, frail, elderly woman selling peanuts by the road while wearing an Incredible Hulk tee-shirt.

Because the clothes are known to come from the lands of white people and because they are in such good condition that people could not imagine a living person getting rid of them, they are called “broni wewu” which literally means “dead white man/woman” in the Twi language of Ghana.