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Field Notes: A Day at Kantamanto Market

Have you ever heard of the term field notes? This is a writing tool that researchers often use to gather information about the topic they are studying
Caption: Yayra and Kwamena unveiling denim waste retrieved from Kantamanto market

Have you ever heard of the term field notes?

This is a writing tool that researchers often use to gather information about the topic they are studying. At THE REVIVAL, we use filmmaking, photography, writing, and diary entries to gather data on the fashion waste problem in Ghana. We call this living-the-data.

Our founders Yayra and Kwamena spend endless hours at the Kantamanto market, recording observations of what they see at the market, how people behave when they are trading, the problems that traders face. Yayra and Kwamena also spend a lot of time talking to people in the market, gathering up many hours of interviews with the entrepreneurs directly dealing with this problem in Accra. When making fieldnotes and collecting data, we aim to be as neutral as possible, we just record the bare facts and keep our feelings out of it!

As you read this, remember that you are a researcher too. We encourage you to think like a detective and focus on the small details – how much information can you learn from these field notes? What do you now know about a day in Kantamanto, despite never having been there in person yourself?

“Wednesdays and Saturdays are market days, so this Wednesday morning I go to the market hoping to find items for styling my clients, and to sell. The market has been open since 3am and it’s packed as usual.

The bales have come in from the latest shipment. As always, they are incorrectly labelled: once we open them and take off the top layers of clothing, a bale of clothing labelled as T-shirts turns out to be dirty bed linens. This is a common occurrence at Kantamanto and bad business for traders here. It means traders can never know what they are fronting money for. Getting a falsely packed bale full of soiled and low-quality goods means losing money leading to debt. I speak to a trader who tells me they paid 400 US dollars for a bale of high-quality branded t-shirts from the UK. They tell me they hoped it would be a good investment, as stuff from the UK usually sells well, but once they opened up the bale, they found it to be stuffed with stained and non-functional items.”

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