About a five minute walk from Kejetia (the central market of Kumasi), is the Culture Centre. This is one of the most popular places in among the volunteers in Kumasi.
The Culture Centre is one of the biggest of its kind and is impressive. There is a museum of Ashanti history (Prempeh II Jubilee Museum), a library, a book store, a restaurant (Kentish kitchen), an excellent crafts shop and an exhibition hall. This is where you can buy souvenirs of the highest quality and for a decent price. The great thing is that it is very close to the centre and it is very accessible. The whole complex is large and it feels like it is a small village within it and actually quite pleasant just walking inside it.
There is a fare every summer for about a month and a half where the artists from all over Kumasi gather in the Culture Centre to sell their goods. This happens from around June to August so make sure you don’t miss out! I managed to buy a lot of things during the period for a cheap price and it was great as they had everything that I wanted.
The museum tour wasn’t all that great, but maybe it was because I was spoilt by the vastly superior Armed Forces Museum. The Prempeh II Jubilee Museum consists of just one room and houses several precious artefacts from the Ashanti Empire and the Manhyia palace. Perhaps the most interesting object is the “treasure-bag” of Okonfo Anokye, which was made on the same day as the Konfo Anokye Sword (see previous blog posts). The legend is very similar to the sword – if the bag is to be opened, the Ashanti Empire will be no more. There are other objects like the fake stool they gave to the British, and other original ‘black stools’, which the kings sat on.
If you carry further along into the Centre, you will come across a store with paintings. Inside you might be able to meet a painter called Joel. He is physically disabled – he sits in a wheelchair, he cannot use his hands normally and so he paints with his mouth. He is very nice and the people he works with are nice as well, so it becomes very difficult to haggle when buying his paintings! His paintings are marvellous and it is worth visiting the Culture Centre just to meet him!