Written by Philip Briggs
With some of the largest marketplaces in West Africa, organised chaos is something of a speciality in Ghana. The pleasantly puzzling markets offer visitors the chance to immerse themselves in an atmosphere that has been a staple in Ghanaian culture for centuries. But which ones shouldn’t you miss?
Of all the crafts practised in West Africa, few are more readily identifiable with a particular country than kente cloth with Ghana © Adam Jones, Wikimedia Commons
Covering 12ha immediately southeast of Kejetia Circle, this is reputedly the largest open market in West Africa, hosting around 10,000 traders within its confines. At the north end of central Kumasi, Ghana’s largest and most labyrinthine market is crammed with traders selling everything from traditional crafts to vegetables and car spares. Inside, Kejetia Market seems maze-like and confusing at first, but is in fact quite orderly, with clothing, textile and food stalls clustered in the west, pottery and metal in the northeast, and tailors in the southwest. Aside from the decidedly smelly part of the market where fish and meat are sold, this is a fascinating place, well worth dedicating an afternoon or morning to, and a great place to buy curios and crafts in an environment where tourists form a fraction of the clientele.
Osu night market
As daylight fades in the Ghanaian capital, Osu’s night market comes alive. Lit entirely by lanterns and candles, here you’ll find groceries, food, and a buzzy nightlife scene that lasts until dawn.
Agomanya and Koforidua markets
Fabrics on sale at Agomanya Market © Ariadne Van Zandbergen
Reputedly the most important bead market in Ghana, the vast expanse of stalls at Agomanya – selling a huge selection of fabrics, basketwork, pottery, fruits and vegetables, etc – would place it among the country’s most exciting markets. The less organic but larger rival bead market in Koforidua is a treasure trove. Arguably the country’s best bead market, traders and craftspeople come from all over West Africa to set up stalls for the day. Finally, bead lovers could also visit Kejetia Market in Kumasi where there are a few interesting stalls.
In the heart of old Accra, Makola is the largest open-air market in the capital, and is certainly one of Ghana’s most vibrant. You can find almost anything here; from basins to bags to Barbie dolls, you’ll catch yourself chuckling at the peculiar variety of items on offer. It is also a good place to buy fabrics, with a warehouse-like building stacked to the ceiling with the batik for which Ghana is famous.
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