Makola Market Accra, Ghana

Located in pretty much the center of downtown Accra, Makola is a premier and well known market in Ghana and West Africa run by very powerful market women. It is known by most Ghanaians even outside of the capital and many West Africans, it is seen as a phoenix rising from the ashes numerous times from either burning or being destroyed by the PNDC government. Just about anything can be found in Makola but primarily produce, clothing, cooking pots and implements, jewelry, bags, textiles, and numerous imports. Even though most things can be found here it is not the greatest place for tourists to shop for mementos because it is primarily where locals buy things for their day to day needs. But this makes it a very interesting place to absorb the culture and check out how people live and what goods are important to them. For a new visitor it would be very easy it to get lost in the labyrinth of stalls. The first time that I stepped foot in Makola Market rather than just driving by was with a Ghanaian friend, he was going to get some clothes mainly of the western variety, like jeans and T-Shirts. The clothing part of the market is deep “on the inside” with stalls that have piles and piles of clothes. The deeper you get into it though it almost encloses you into a primitive shopping mall with each vendor having a little shop, some really take the time to hang up the cloths and present them just like they would in the west. Many stalls specialize in a certain style of clothing. Some even go the extra mile and tile the floors and use all kinds of different colored lighting. It is like a line of discos with cloths hanging in them. I returned myself another time to buy some clothes and it took me over an hour to find this part of the market, because the area is so vast and the lanes and avenues will consume and confuse you. You can always ask for directions but often times they are not that great, for a small tip I am sure someone will show you where you need to go.

The clothes area was much more enjoyable than some other parts of the market. One of the hardest parts to walk through is the meat market area. Without refrigeration there is meat just laying out on tables in all different fashions, some cuts are fresh, others are smoked and dried. There can be all kinds of different meat that you would never see in your grocery store also like dried and smoked bats, and “grass cutter” (a large bush rodent, very popular for its meat across West Africa) in addition there are a lot of other parts of animals that would typically not be on display in your grocery store. With all of this just laying around under the hot sun it is not hard to imagine that this part of the market can smell quite foul. I think a lot of the by products, blood and other things are just poured into the open gutter which does not help the situation either. But if you can handle the smell it is a great spectacle to see what ends up on the cutting board. If you have a weak stomach you can still have a great time at the market if you avoid this area.

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