Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kaneshie Market

We have passed the Kaneshie Market several times, but have never bothered to stop in for a looksee. Usually we've been on bike rides out the west side of Accra. Either tired, dressed inappropriately, lacking a bike lock or just not really interested in buying anything, it was easy to pass up. We've been to the sprawling, densely packed Makola Market, and assumed that Kaneshie would be not much different.

We didn't want to give up on Kaneshie Market so easily though. SJD read that there were some nice bead vendors hidden someplace inside. It was a good enough reason for the two of us to wave down a taxi for a trip across town.

Makola seems to be an series of alleys with storefronts that swing open spilling all sorts of merchandise onto the sidewalk, across the gutter and into streets. I would not say that there is much, if any, logic to the layout. It seems as though you simply keep walking until you find what ever it is you need. Flip-flops, drill bits, tupperware, car batteries, children's clothes, mud flaps, cassava, computer cables, belts, dried fish, transistor radios, cookies, picture frames, DVDs, socks. In fact, it seems, that you could simply grab a seat and wait for a vendor to approach you selling something. For some reason it also seems that we attract a lot of attention at the markets. Not the other thousands of people wandering about - the two of us, plain and simple, but fair skinned.

Attracting our attention usually involves pointing at nicely stacked pyramid of produce as we drive by, or shoving an armful of little girls' frilly dresses in front of us as we walk by. Every now and then a vendor is holding an animal by the neck or hind legs. All is up for grabs. Presentation is key. Anticipating your customer's needs is entirely secondary, because there is always the chance that he/she may need a size 15 vinyl loafer today. Even though I will probably never purchase any of the giant live snails or ground flour, it is still a neat place to visit. All this to say that Makola Market is a fascinating place that requires a lot of energy and a different mindset than hitting Whole Foods, Target, Trak Auto, Nordstroms and Best Buy in the same day. It is nice to know it is there.

Kaneshie Market on the other hand seems almost entirely manageable by comparison. Sure, we still were grossed out by fresh pig parts on a platter and jostled in narrow passages. SJD was even run over by a man pushing a overflowing wheel barrow of cassava. Luckly she only stumbled onto a display of plantains causing a momentary chuckle by the women vendors - and an offer to make a deal. For the most part, there is room to move in the aisles without walking sideways of stepping over sleeping children or smoldering cooking fires. There is some semblance of logic too. Ground floor - food. First floor - housewares and beads, hairdressers. Second floor - tailors, lots of tailors. Less chaotic, but still exciting.

SJD sifted through one vendor's bead collection before settling on a few strands and random individual beads. Apparently there are subtle differences that make a bead simply ordinary or of qaulity. Her modest collection is growing.

We continued to wander the upper floors. The third floor houses hundreds of individual tailoring kiosks. By kiosk, I mean 8'x8' wood box just large enough for one person, a sewing machine and perhaps a radio - not necessarily a comfortable work space. Inexpensive though - apparently rented at C50,000 ($5.42 ) per month. African dresses and shirts. More dresses and shirts. In fact, after a few minutes it became apparent that everyone was, more or less, offering pretty much the same twenty or thirty styles, but in different fabrics. It reminded us that we needed to use some of the fabric that we purchased a couple of months ago.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that description of Kaneshie market I have a new friend whose Mum has a stall/stand there so the backgoround information was both useful and entertaining.

Thanks Fred (UK)