There is nothing like African Markets. Nothing in the world. The words I have read, the pictures I have seen, the paintings that have been created do not do it justice. There’s just nothing like it.
When you come upon a Market, there is first the sound. The sound surrounds you: the hum of hundreds of voices shouting about their wares, the honking of car and taxi horns warning the pedestrians walking in the streets, the crying of babies set to the side while mothers bargain. There is a constant hum that never abates, but rises and falls again and again, until it is just one long reverberation.
The next thing that you are aware of is the movement. Many people rushing here and there, back and forth, sideways, diagonally, across median strips, through intersections, dashing across busy streets, weaving in and out of foot traffic and street traffic and the traffic of hordes of people, looking for a bargain.
Then there are the colors – unbelievable hues on everything moving, and everything standing still. Clothes hanging from second floor open doorways and along railings, and clothes on the many women (and most men) traveling quickly in search of a bargain – of needs (for the evening meal) and wants (for the cooking area). The colors are bright and fantastic and in combinations you have never seen and could never imagine. And unlike males in America, the men can be, and often are, as colorfully clothed as the women. But all around, and following the dance of moving easily thru crowds as seen only in the busiest of places, are the faces of the people and the colors of their world.
Finally, there are the smells: some that are familiar to your nose, some that certainly are not. Some you pass through as you dance your way through the crowds, some that hang over the areas of cooking and food. Some that make you want to eat, or taste – and some you just want to leave behind as a memory. But the smells are there, and they are a part of African life.
I am intimately familiar with three Markets in my area: the Market of Ejisu, which is present every day but which triples in size on Market Days held on Sundays and Thursdays when the farmers come in with their fresh vegetables and live chickens; the Central Market of Kumasi, with its streets of one and two story buildings selling everything from irons to garlic, from yams to fish, from purses and backpacks to second-hand clothes; and then there is Kejetia Market, which is said to be the largest open-air Market in the world, and which borders Central Market containing acres of open space of busy avenues and busier sellers, their wares spread out on tables and on blankets on the sidewalks and hanging from displays. These are the Markets of central Ashanti Region.
And I love them all!