Aerial view of the Roque Santeiro market. Photo posted on the Menina de Angola blog.

Stallholders at the Roque Santeiro market in Luanda, Angola, are getting ready to pack up and leave for good. The local council has decided to move Africa’s largest market to a site north of the capital.

The market, which helped many Angolans to survive during the civil war, was called Roque Santeiro after the hero of a Brazilian soap opera, broadcast in Angola in 1985, who died defending his city. Today, this open-air market spans several kilometres and, with almost 200,000 stallholders, is considered to be the largest on the continent. The Angolan writer Pepetela once said: "If you cannot find it at Roque Santeiro, it’s because it hasn’t been invented yet".

The local council of Sambizanga, a district of Luanda under the administration of David da Costa, has decided to redevelop the area where the market is currently located. Stallholders will be moved to the town of Panguila, 18km north of the capital, where a 250,000m2 commercial complex is to be built. The Roque Santeiro market will retain 5,300 stalls, but it will also have boutiques, banks, and more hygienic facilities thanks to the construction of cold storage rooms, drinking fountains and toilets. Lastly, security will be improved by the creation of a police station.

Roque Santeiro market comprises almost 200,000 stall owners. Photo posted on Flickr.

Videos of the Roque Santeiro market

Butchers at Roque Santeiro market. Video posted on YouTube by Gustav Nilsson.

At this chaotic, open-air market, stallholders selling vegetables work alongside those selling fish or other products. In this video, posted on YouTube by Federico Manfredi, they are protesting against the plans to relocate the market, as barely a quarter of them will be able to keep their stalls in the new complex.