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New York City Travel Guide

Where to Find an Authentic African Market in Manhattan

This NYC market will transport you to the souks of Marrakesh.

Nestled just east of Malcolm X Boulevard, you’ll find the Malcolm Shabazz Harlem Market. The entrance to the canopied bazaar, with its red and yellow awning, reminiscent of a Middle Eastern market, is flanked by two minaret-like towers similar to those seen on the Shabazz mosque at the end of the street. Upon entering, you quickly realize the hidden gem you have stumbled upon tucked away in an area of Harlem known as Little Senegal. Inside, the stalls offer a kaleidoscopic array of visual treats, with market vendors selling an assortment of products including; West African batik fabrics and graphic African printed cotton, body oils and tubs of shea butter, artifacts large and small, musical instruments from Mali (such as the kora and the djembe drum), tailoring services, and even hair braiding. On slower days you may hear the vendors playing traditional music together and, if you’re lucky, you may be encouraged to join in.

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Stall owners set up for the day.

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Market vendor Babu demonstrates how to play the balafon.

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Two women stop to admire each other’s outfits.

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Ali was working at the market to help his mother Aiysha with her stall.

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A large selection of body oils.

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A shopper browses the fashions.

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African wood-carved statues, female on the right, male on the left.

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A tailor creating costumes for a Harlem theater recital.

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Vendor Babu plays the kora.

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Woven baskets for sale at Sabina’s stall.

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Carolina, a tourist from Berlin, receives a lesson in how to tie a head-wrap from designer Sulay of Sulay Dabakh fashions.

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Carolina’s completed look.

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Inside the market.

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Local musician Ismail playing the djembe.

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An assortment of west African instruments and earrings.

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