Everyday is market day in Kumasi, courtesy of the sprawling, self contained metropolis that is Kejetia Market.
Reputedly the biggest market in West Africa, it boasts a staggering 10,000 stallholders over a 12 hectare site. And this doesn’t count the surrounding streets, where tiny stalls packed full of goods, sprawl out onto the pavement. As a keen market goer myself, I’ve been a little surprised it took me so long to get there. But, I’ll be back, for sure.
Sticking to the footpath of crowded streets where taxis, trolleys and tro-tro’s still roam, you pass through some non-descript metal gates, and the traffic disappears, and branching off the main road are thousands and thousands of tiny alleyways. Some no more than a metre wide. It’s a cliche, but it is truly labrythine. The stores vary in size from several metres square, with glass cases for fabric; to minute, a metre deep by 1.5 metres wide. Everything is piled from the floor to the ceiling: fabric, pots, buckets, wire boxes of chickens piled 5 high. At first it all appears utterly chaotic, but the longer you look, the more sense it makes. Fabric stores are broadly grouped together, then made in China cheap enamel pots, then ladies painting enormous cauldrons with aluminium paint, giant piles of used plastic vegetable oil drums, waiting for another use. A sweating sea of humanity, without a breath of wind. We walked over a small rise, and I peered through the corrugated iron into an open drain with men freely pissing into it. We passed down tiny lanes, no wider than a metre, narrow tables along the sides with men cutting out and glueing shoes together. While I bought antique Ashanti fertility dolls, Debbi had a pair of shoes made for her.
Walking out, we heard the muzzein’s call to prayer, and we stepped quietly around small groups paused in the laneways offering their midday prayers.
I wish I had taken more photgraphs, but I felt as though I were intruding. Weirdly, we did not hear ‘obruni’ once. I can highly recommend a trip to the markets. We had a contact who had a store inside the market, and he took us to his stores and several others around him. Further reading has revealed it is orgnaised on a bigger scale with clothing, textiles and food stalls in the west, pottery and metal in the northeast, and tailors in the southwest (Brandts Guide to Ghana, 2007). Good to know, plenty to explore.