Kejetia market in Kumasi is huge. It has the reputation of being the biggest market in western Africa, and is, supposedly, 12ha big and contains 10,000 stalls. Having been there now I can see why it’s described so.
Having woken up in Kumasi on the Saturday I expected to find the city much the same as the day before, what I found instead was a city swept clean and empty of stalls and people (by comparison). As I walked to the the market though, I either found where everyone had gone, or I couldn’t imagine what the market must be like on a week day. It was a heaving, throbbing mass of people rubbing shoulders, barging past, shouting and whistling, buying and selling. It was vaguely daunting I admit.
From experience, markets in developing worlds are usually arranged in sections. The fabrics section, the vegetable section, the house hold goods section, the meat section, the clothes section, etc. Everyone selling a type of good will crowd together. Although I don’t know the exact reason why this is, it’s easy enough to.come up with theories.
This market was no different apart from the scale. Loins girdled, as a vague rectangle I was able to walk (slowly) in a single direction for over an hour and then back along a completely different, winding path. Over this first hour, I got called over to buy things, to meet people, and be touched, greeted and called obroni more times than in the whole of the past month
I played along.
Although that said, generally the people I was meeting were completely friendly and harmless, and just wanted to chat, marry me, or get me to take them back to the UK. No big deal right?
It was honestly really interesting and fun.
Let’s see: I met a fat old woman selling frozen chicken and her friends in the clothing section (an aberration to the ordered chaos) and invited her to dance with me after chatting for 5 minutes, much to her friends amusement. I met a spice merchant and bought some pepper from her to make my meals more interesting to eat when I get back to Nsawkaw. I even met numerous butchers in their animal product warehouse (definitely not limited to just meat) who were oddly the friendliest group of people! And all wanted their photo to be taken.
In one direction I walked through the hairdressing, vegetable, meat, fish and fabric sections, and in the other, the house hold goods, bedding, clothing, spices and the fetish sections.
Yes, the fetish section.
Although not big like in Nigeria as I was told, traditional witch doctors in Ghana will use bits of dried animals to cure, prevent and fix ailments of various kinds for who ever needs it, and they were selling the bits of dried animal they would use there.
For no reason I could disconcern, whole dried chameleons were the most common item, then whole dried mice, hedgehog-like skins, tortoise shells and bats in order. Much less common but still there were parts of lion (apparently) skin, bits of crocodile including whole heads, various bones, tails, owl heads etc. Some of these things looked seriously old and rotten too!
Now unfortunately when ever I asked if I could take a photo I was told in no uncertain terms that no, I couldn’t. The one photo I did get off a this is on my camera and not on my phone as I write this so I can’t show any photos today, but it was seriously interesting to see and to experience.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, at one point I even saw whole roasted bats for sale to eat. SARS anyone?!