The Halfaouine Market sits midway between Bab Souika and Bab Saadoun on the north side of the Tunis medina. The vendors there sell produce, meat, and other goods, and many of them have been doing so for decades. The days have always been long, and the work has always been hard. But for everyone we talked to, the period after the revolution has been a particularly difficult time with rent and wholesale prices rising and average Tunisians tightening their household budgets.
Noureddine, age 67, has been working in the market since 1968. He comes from the nearby neighborhood of Bab Saadoun and sells vegetables. He gets up at 5 a.m. to go to the wholesale market, and then comes here and works till 8 p.m. “It used to be fine before the Revolution,” he said. “But now it’s getting worse.” (All photographs are the work of the author.)
Mohammed, age 61, has been working in the market for more than 40 years. A typical day for Mohamed starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. He said rent is going up and the prices of goods has gotten very high. “The work here gets harder every day,” he said. “The first and the second year after the revolution it was okay, but after that it has gotten worse and worse. Before the Revolution it was far better.”
Nouredine, age 56, spent 30 years selling air conditioners for a private company, but after retiring six months ago he began selling vegetables to supplement his pension. He works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on a typically day. “Things aren’t so good,” he said. “The high cost of living [in Tunis] makes people try to cut costs when they’re doing their shopping. Even 100 millimes can make a difference.”
Khalil, age 43, gets up at 4 a.m. to buy goods for his stand and typically stays out selling them until sunset. He’s married with three children, and has spent 16 years working in the market. He doesn’t like the work. “It’s bad and gets worse every day,” Khalil said.
But, in terms of conditions, Khalil says not much has changed since the revolution: “2015 is like 2011 and the years before that. It’s all the same.”
Mohamed, age 58, has been in the market for more than 40 years. He works half a day as a butcher. “It use to be better before 2011,” he said. “But we thank God anyway.”
Youssef graduated from ISAMM where he has studied Communication and Multimedia. He's been active within the FTCA since 2010, taking part in the festival and directing two short films, one of which is animated. Youssef is interested in music, cinema, theater, video games, photography and movie-making.