In the guidebooks, you might read about a place called Kumasi Central Market, or quite simply, as it is known here, Kejetia. It is known to be West Africa’s largest open air market. In the Akan language, Kejetia means the ‘junction or intersection of main routes.’ So it can almost be said that all roads lead to Kejetia. It’s not hard to believe once you are here and have seen it with your own eyes. The ‘everyday hustle and bustle’ doesn’t really cover it as so many people are there!
Coming from Japan and having lived in Tokyo for a good 10 years, I am used to huge hoards of people, but this was something else. In Tokyo the roads and crossings are made so that people can get to their destinations in an orderly fashion. However in Kejetia, some people don’t have set destinations, just selling things to passers-by and even when they know exactly where they want to go, carrying huge loads of things on their heads adds to the madness! Thousands of cars want to get to their destinations and thousands of people want to cross the road and in the end it all contributes to the feel of Kejetia. Trying to speak to someone on the phone there sometimes is impossible; there is simply too much noise.
It is amazing how easily one gets accustomed to these things though. Now I do not even blink at the sight of people almost getting run over on the road and nor do I flinch when someone carrying a huge load of chickens on their head accidently bumps into me. We always try to remember to ask the volunteers when we are about to take them around the city for the first time: “Are you scared of large crowds of people?” If you are, then you really are just going to have to get used to it! There’s no escaping it, Kejetia is in the centre of the city where the post office, internet cafe and supermarket is located. You have to get a tro tro or shared taxi from Kejetia if you want to go back home for the centre and vice versa.
In the market you can buy anything from clothes to food to live chickens. We don’t take the volunteers inside the actual market during the induction so they are free to explore when they have the time. It’s easy to get lost, but that’s part of the fun!
Any volunteer coming to Kumasi should prepare to be unprepared for the madness that is Kejetia.