Every day is market day. Whether it’s an organized day of the week, or a permanent part of the environment, Ghana thrives on the market atmosphere.
This is a "hidden picture" story. Do you see anything out of the ordinary here?
Driving through the numerous towns and villages on our ride to Mole we were able to watch the events as they unfolded. Early in the day groups of people, or singles, walking….walking. At first it was unclear where everyone was going. Then we reached a village and the riot of noise, color and odor assailed us. Baskets and containers of all kind were balanced on heads; people ran beside cars hoping to make a sale; cars and trucks were loaded down so heavily that we saw as many broken down vehicles as we did moving ones. Sheep balanced precariously on top of loaded trucks, or being driven by a shepherd were displayed for purchase. Cows, the same.
Running in the streets, trying to catch cars as they slowed in traffic, peddling their wares.
This describes the street markets which may occur once a week, or be permanently a fixture of the roadside. The full market experience comes, however, in a large, tightly knit, twisted alley form which is straight from an Indiana Jones film. Kumasi has the largest market area in West Africa, and we were fortunate enough to have a guide to help us navigate the intricacies of the inner sanctum.
We were coming back from Mole and knew this was one of our destinations. Coming over the hill, we saw the market laid out before us, a unique perspective, and a bit overwhelming. I will admit to being more than a bit nervous, mostly because I didn’t want to lose any of my teachers, or my husband! Or myself. Knowing we had a local guide helped, and the bus parked next to a tall, very red building I thought a perfect place to help guide us back.
Wrong. Three steps down and into the labyrinth, and the red building could not be seen. Onward we went. Past vegetables, house wares, jewelry, textiles, shoes, purses, empty stalls, sleeping people, large-eyed children, colorful costume, smiling faces….and more.
Our first “stop” was a stall which sold traditional Kente cloth, and the students wanted to get the narrow bands to wear with their robes at graduation. What fun. Then to a couple of stalls which sold “trinkets,” beads we could string, or necklaces to purchase. Again, traditional Ashanti stones/beads were popular, as were the brass charms which represented various symbols important to the culture.
Weaving our way back to the bus, with our fearless leader at the helm, I will admit we all felt a bit over-whelmed by the experience, yet exhilarated. We could not say we'd "mastered" the market experience, but we had taken baby steps in our attempt to get to know more about the African way of life.