Parakou’s Guema Cattle Market

Parakou features one of Benin’s largest cattle markets.  Every Tuesday, trucks full of cattle from Mali and Burkina Faso descend on Parakou, along with hundreds of herders who’ve accompanied their cattle from the surrounding grazing land. Some of the cattle are sold or exchanged locally, but the biggest and meatiest get sold across the border to Nigerian traders.  Once he purchases a sizeable herd, the trader will hire young Fulani to walk them 5 days into Nigeria.

Because Parakou is a commerce town, and therefore an ethnic melting pot, the cattle market serves as a hub for the region’s Fulani culture.

As the heat of the afternoon sun fades, the market comes to life:


See the sights and sounds of Parakou’s Guema Market:

Parakou’s Guema Cattle Market




Ousman Bello is a wise-crackin’ cattle trader.  While he doesn’t own a herd of his own, he travels to remote camps and brings cattle to market for folks who prefer to avoid the hustle of the big city.


Big boys like these can sell for well over 300,000 CFA ($700).

20100323-IMG_7657 This little guy had the misfortune of being born in the dry season.  Momma’s all out of milk.

20100323-IMG_7685 These boys came from Burkina Faso looking for work.  They’ll wait weeks for the opportunity to escorta herd to Nigeria, a job that pays a handsome 20,000 CFA (approximately $45).

20100504-IMG_8038 While most of the cattle arrive on foot or by truck, some find alternative transportation.




3 Responses to “Parakou’s Guema Cattle Market”

  1. yoo wuur pulaagu haa cay aamiini, njan’gen, nduren, ndemen, ko zuum tan kevtortozen.
    on njaaraama

  2. paul howard says:

    In 1967/8 I was a PCV at a fish culture station near Bafilo, Togo (between Sokode and Kara). The Fulani used to drive herds of cattle down the ‘Route Nationale’ that passed near the fish culture station and continued on toward Lome and the coast. They usually stopped to overnight at the station as we had a large area of grassland and open space near the road. I always enjoyed seeing the men gentle the cattle for the night, usually playing their wooden flutes and walking among them all night long. They usually had three or four donkeys with them, carrying baskets loaded with their supplies. I purchased a donkey from them to try to introduce animal traction to the local village.
    I enjoyed looking at the photos.

  3. Christoph says:

    Hi Paul, Thanks for your message! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Please follow along, as we’ll be hitting the trail at the end of this week. We really enjoy comments from folks who have an inside understanding of what we’re doing.