All West African markets seem to share one thing in common- Chaos!
My experience in Accra market can be summed up in those five letters…
Arriving at my destination, I was a little unclear about the location of the market; it seemed as if there were no walls or structure that indicated I was in Accra market. The main street, where the traffic led up to seemed to windup into a labyrinth of shops and stores that continued into other streets. There were so many people on both lanes of the street walking in opposite directions. I soon discovered that it was important for me to pay attention, as no sooner had I began shopping was I hit mistakenly by a man who was at work. I struggled to regain my steps as he apologised for the mistake.
As I walked through the market, attempting to ‘window shop’ I noticed a variety of African fabrics of different colours and patterns, I also noticed several shops selling a variety of female clothing ranging from jeans to tops to even jerseys. While they were structured shops, there were also itinerant traders who moved around and beckoned shoppers to buy their goods. Interesting enough they were some sellers who would approach me with a pair of jeans for example and will beckon me to buy it, that it was my size. At times these itinerant sellers were very vicious and rude especially if you ignore them. It was so distracting and difficult to walk through the market without being patronised by these sellers.
The market led to several streets and it was so easy to get lost. As I continued walking I was hit by the pungent smell that suddenly filled the air. I soon realised that I was in the food section of the market. There was an abattoir, so it was easy to opt for live meat rather than frozen meat. There were all sorts of foods in the market, ranging from fruits to vegetables all at affordable prices. The sun was so ferocious that day and I got exhausted from just looking around. There was so much noise in the market- ranging from frustrated motorists blaring their horns because of the gridlock on the street, to traders -itinerant and store owners- beckoning customers to purchase their goods- my ears were bombarded with at least 60dB of noise that day.
My worst nightmare soon became a reality-I lost my way! I wanted to ask for help, I realised it was useless, I will probably get more confused- most of the shop owners were all Ga (a Ghanaian language) speaking people. At this part of the market there was no major street in sight it was just a bunch of makeshift stores with narrow pathways were people streamed from both directions. There were young girls carrying big bowls on their heads some had shoppers’ things in theirs, while others just moved around and kept coercing me to put my half empty shopping bag into their bowl. At intervals, a huge cart carrying food stuff or merchandise wheeled by one man and supported by another, will attempt to come through this narrow way into the market. Pedestrians including myself had to clam up into a nearby store so that the cart would not ride over us. When I thought I was completely screwed, I noticed I was close to a garage were different buses were picking passengers. I was so excited and happy and walked in the direction of the park. I soon found a taxi that took me home.
Ironically as this may sound, I enjoyed my visit to Accra market a lot. You cannot visit Ghana without visiting Accra market. I discovered from a friend that I had not even covered one-third of the market. Amidst all the chaos I discovered something really interesting. Indeed, it was the hustle and bustle of this African market that made it chaotically beautiful- who said there is no beauty in disorder!