The Markets of Makola and Agbogbloshie
What are you looking for? Clothing? Vegetables? Shower gel? Mannequins? Herbal sexual enhancers? Mops? Q-Tips? Sandals? Bras? Fabric? That’s it… you want African fabrics, my friend! Don’t shake your head, I can see it in your soul, you want these African fabrics! But I’ll give you a great price! Really no? Then tell me what you want. Please repeat, I didn’t understand. Ahhh… you’re looking for “Chaos”. Well then, you’ve come to the right place! Welcome to the markets of Accra!
Spilling out onto endless blocks of downtown Accra, Makola is less a “marketplace”, than a general way of life. You don’t really “go to Makoka Market” … you just walk down a street and it slowly starts happening around you, until reaching such a pitch that you can’t even take a step without knocking over a plate of snails, or stepping into some poor woman’s fufu bowl.
Makola is overwhelming. We never really dedicated a day to it, but our path between Jamestown and Adabraka often brought us into its orbit. And it’s nearly impossible to pass through without buying something, even if it’s just a coconut or Ghanaian blackberries. Given the tenacity of the vendors, it’s a near miracle to make out with just that much.
Phew, Makola was fun. And now you’ve been walking for like three whole minutes with no market! Boring! Well don’t worry, Accra’s got you covered. In no time, you’ll find yourself in Agbogbloshie Market, a deliriously lengthy set of stands which runs along Hansen Road (and not, confusingly, nearby Agbogbloshie Road).
Agbogbloshie started life as an onion market, and that’s still a major source of trade here. But it’s grown well beyond the pungent veggie, and now you can find everything that you’d expect to find at any other market. Agbogbloshie’s reputation, though, is as the entryway to an infamous e-waste site, where foreign governments send their computers and electronic trash to be burnt and sold for bits. This is an unbelievable area, which we’d be visiting later.
Just to the south of Agbogbloshie Market, we came upon another, much smaller market that specializes in herbal medicines and traditional beliefs. Here, you can find more … exotic items, such as horns, dried ox penises, chameleons, snake skins, and anything else you might need for your next spirit-cleansing juju session. This reminded us a lot of the Witchcraft Market we had visited in Bolivia, and served as a reminder that, while Christianity might be the most prominent faith in Ghana, the old traditions are still very much alive.