Saturday, December 16, 2006

By Melissa Rick

Kumasi is the ďgarden city of West AfricaĒ.  Driving into the second largest city in Ghana, I was surprised and the extreme visual differences Kumasi appeared to have with the rest of the Ghanaian cities Iíve visited.  The city is built on several hills giving the streets and architecture curves and flows.  There are few shacks or stales lining the main streets and all the shops and stales and parking spaces feel clean, organized, and fresh.  Many of the buildings resemble early 19th century architecture.  The buildings betray Kumasiís rich and important past.  It was the capital of the Asante Empire with a history that far exceeds any of the other prominent Ghanaian cities. 
The highlight of our trip was walking through the Kejetia Market.  It is reputedly the largest open air market in West Africa.  It sprawls out from the city center and goes on and on.  It is crowded and busy.  Sections of the market are organized for certain goods like clothing, shoes, live snails, and whatever else you could possible want.  The clothes in markets are second hand t-shirts and other items from the States.  It is interesting to see people walking around in t-shirts advertising the Super Bowl, Britany Spears, or teams and schools only someone from that area in the States would know about.  Children often have Disney characters or other cartoon outfits.  These clothes are called dead white manís clothes. 
When we were in the market, I kept getting called Akosua, which is the Sunday day name.  What I have never been able to figure out is why they call us Akosua and not another day name.  Someone explained to me that there is a story or belief that all white people were born on Sunday, another mystery solved. 

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