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Located in the centre of Kumasi in Ghana’s Ashanti region, Kejetia is by far one of the most colourful mazes for sales and services in the world. With some 50,000 stores and service points, food sales pavilions, second hand markets, and arts/crafts sections, it truly is a sight to behold. Here’s what to look out for when visiting.
If you look beyond the crowded nature of things, the cacophony of business interactions, the miscellany of voices and items, the Kejetia experience is that of an interactive civilization and savoir-faire community where you will learn something at the end of the day. Take in the stalls selling everything from clothing, home-made produce, office and farm hardware, fresh and roasted meat , tech items, offbeat creations and a mosaic of sundry with everything between. Here is where you’ll find that a trader will rush off in search of what you want if they don’t have it, or that a seamstress will sew you a dress in under five hours to meet your exact specifications.
The proximity of Kumasi to neighbouring countries in coastal West and central sub-Saharan Africa, brings the circulation of commerce to Kejetia. The previous government under Mahama inaugurated a USD$298 million project in December 2016, to upgrade the Kejetia market to facilitate a convenient parking area, modernize the old bus terminal, perk up the resources of the fire station, clinic, police station, and improve the sewage and sanitation facilities for market users and immediate surroundings. The then Minister for Local Government and Rural Development explained that the upgrade of the market was intended to prevent fire outbreaks, since several markets in Ghana have seen huge losses of goods and money to fire in the past.
You can’t miss the unbelievable dimensions of the market, bordered to the north by the Kumasi Cultural Centre, and to the northwest by the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital. For a true taste of Ghanaian life, look no further than the emotions, smells, sights and sounds on offer here. The market looks like an alien mothership from above, but it is actually organized into different sections: the beads line, shoe and apparel arcade, the quieter fabric line, and local lunch spots. It might be a hassle to manoeuvre through some ‘touristy’ markets in Ghana, but Kejetia is different, because the target market is the locals who shop there every day. Items go for very reasonable prices, such that you wouldn’t have to bargain for anything.
Adinkra cloths are the contemporary touch to Kente weaving and Kejetia is where you can find unique garments for a good deal. From bow ties to scarves, bags to ceremonial dresses, be sure to check out the Kente textiles here. If you are a big fan of African handmade bead and gold jewelry, there are shops not that far from the fabric line.
You can also check the herbal medicine, spices and handmade soap line on the railroad section of the market, though food products are the most dominant. The liveliest time at the railways was when the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology art school, blaxtARLINES, collaborated with residents at Kejetia, railway workers, occupants and engineers in an open-air exhibition called if you love me.
Check out the gigantic market from the top of a high-rise for a stupendous bird’s eye view. Kejetia is massive and friendly. You can choose to hire a guide, but exploring on your own allows you to go at your own pace, to browse, ask questions, stand out or blend in – the choice is yours. Be aware that this is not the place for the chronic claustrophobic, but if you want a visual and sensual overload, then this sure beats TV, Hollywood, or any virtual reality games.
Go get lost in the market and find some good bargains for an authentic Ghanaian experience. We highly recommend Four Villages Inn, Central Market tour or the Kumasi Market tour if you need native eye, for up to USD$20 a day rounds. The much talked about voodoo section in Kejetia comes with traditional priests, piles of dried snake skin, white clay and shrunken reptile skulls. The nearby Kumasi Cultural Center is where you can order resale back-alley batiks, artifacts and shoe-making services. When you hear Kejetia described with phrases like “the traditional market with great business innovation”, or “the network of alleyways where beautiful Ghanaian bodies and goods create a paradise for photographers”, you know they’re totally right.