There’s no more colourful way to shop in Accra than by sampling its many markets.
Along the seafront near Black Star Square is the Arts Centre. Hawkers attack from all sides as soon as you arrive, but if you’re not exhausted by the scrum you can find carvings, baskets, drums, bags, beads, fabrics, sandals, sculptures, stools, rugs and occasionally antiques. It’s a place to unearth some incredible finds and gifts. The best bet is to head past the hassle which you’ll inevitably encounter at the entrance and make your way towards the back of the complex, where it’s a bit more relaxed. Haggling is expected. There’s also an art gallery, which sells prints and paintings at reasonable prices.
The loosely defined borders of Makola Market enclose what might be seen as Accra’s most dynamic commercial hub. It’s certainly one of the most entertaining. Hot, noisy and insistent, it’s an initially bewildering sprawl of kitchenware, jewellery, textiles, shoes and anything else your cedi might conceivably buy, hawked from floors, racks, shelves, ceilings and head-perched baskets.Evangelical bands play on stairwells, clothes-filled alleys channel you down dead-ends, sea snails fill plastic buckets and rainbows of peppers lie in towering heaps. Forget the camera, it’s best to just slip into the flow and enjoy it for what it is - a colourful open-air department store spread over several blocks.
Kaneshie Market is on the road out west of Accra. It is very much like Makola Market – a sprawling chaos of stalls, shops and street vendors. Everything you could possibly imagine can be bought here. It’s also an important transport hub with tro tro and regional buses picking up and dropping off passengers. However, if you wanted to see a market for the experience (and it really is an experience), Makola Market is more accessible.
After the chaos of the Arts Centre, this shop in Osu is a bit of a relief. Much of the same items can be found in the many rooms of this large building, but the prices are fixed. All the usual Ghanaian knick-knacks can be browsed, alongside some older items, textiles and some pretty jewellery from recycled beads.