June 15, 2014

On my first Saturday, we decided to become tourists in Accra. We went all the way from Madina to Accra city center, by our favorite transportation means, the trotro. On my right, I noticed an impressive, monumental building in a shape of a pyramid. I found out that it was the recently built presidential palace, the Flagstaff House, which serves as a residence and office to the President of Ghana. The grandeur of this Palace was not alike to any other building in Accra. It was glowing under the African sun, as if made of gold.

In a while, we passed from another grand building on our left. I discerned the sign on its cement grey front:”National Theater“. It looked also magnificent and reminded me of a gigantic boat. In a mini research I conducted, I learnt that it was a gift from China. We made promises with the other girls that we will attend a theatrical performance, which we unfortunately never kept.

After about an hour, we arrived at the chaotic and loud central trotro station. Having my new camera at hand, I followed my local friends close behind, as the pavements were narrow and congested. Our first stop would be Makola market. I was very curious to visit a local market, because by that time I had only shopped at the big, expensive supermarket in the mall. I wished to dive into the real ghanian life, whose core is the market. But reality was not as exciting as I expected. Once the sharp smell of the market was caught by my olfactory system, I grasped that we had arrived. The sun was burning and there was no shade anywhere. In the sides of the narrow paths you could find plenty products. Smoked fish and fishtails, immense snails, pig ‘s feet, plantae(=big bananas), animal fat, kasawa, tomatoes, oil and red sauce in plastic bags, pepper, yams, chops. Everything was exposed to the hot sun, dirty air and the carefree flies. The market women were wearing big straw hats and seemed to be in a very bad temper.

I made an attempt to take a photo of some oversized potatoes, who were in fact yams, but at my great surprise and fear the seller spoke furiously in twi and made a move to oust me. Noone seemed to applaud my artistic quest. On the contrary at the sight of my camera they became even more agitated than before. Even when I sensed that my camera was a mere useless accessory hanging from my neck and decided to hide it, an older, big woman and a younger fierce man nearly attacked me. They mistook my move as a photoshoot.

Since there was no photographic interest anymore and the food was not appealing to most of us, we made the wise choice to leave this market, never to come back again.

Our next stop would be the”Arts centre Market“. As i was still intimidated by the market people’s reaction and dizzy by the smell, I turned a blind eye to the treasures of this special market. African wear, leather bags, colourful accessories, drums, african masks and many other unique objects were waiting for us in vain. At this place I did come back though.

A local boy recommended that we should visit the “Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park & Mausoleum“. Being evident by its name, this sight is dedicated to the most respected personality of Ghana: Kwame Nkrumah. He was the first president, who led Ghana to the deliberation in 1957 and made It the first independent west-african country. His Birthday, on the 21st of September, is also celebrated as a national holiday in Ghana.

In the entrance we were informed that the non Ghanians needed to pay 10 gc, while the Ghanians 2 gc. The entrance fees were differentiated in every touristic site, according to the ghanian origin of the visitor or not. The museum was an oasis after the craziness of the market. There was a spacious green garden with artificial water channels and a monument. The exhibition space was just one room, with a lot of pictures on the wall and some glass windows. The pictures depicted Nkrumah with other wellknown political personae from all over the world. The items in the windows were his personal stuff: his stick, traditional attire, books.

What I found most interesting is a collection of his personal mail, that was exhibited in a corner. I particularly liked a letter to his daughter, who lived in America at the time. He was asking her news and requested in an annoyed tone that she and her brother write more often to their father. I smiled and thought that however strong and important a person is, always has a sensitive side and needs affection by his beloved people. I also made a little story in my mind. Maybe they were reluctant to contact their father because he was not a loyal husband to their mother. But this was just a guess.

Last stop was the Independence square. It is in fact the second-largest city square in the world and is used for national ceremonies. After bying a “fanice” from a pitchman, that means an ice cream in a sachet, we headed to the seats. There we could indulge an amazing shade and chat about what we have seen and learnt during our tour. Gazing at the most signifficant national symbol of freedom, the black star, it was impossible not to reflect on the struggle of the nation for freedom and independence.

“Freedom is not something that one people can bestow on another as a gift. Thy claim it as their own and none can keep it from them.” Kwame Nkrumah

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