I wrote this after my first visit to
Cape Coast. Tantre tro station. Touts shouting “Where are you going?” Market women selling stacked balls of Fanti Kenkey on the oil-stained concrete. “Buy some, bla bla!” they shout. Come, come!
No thank you. I'm thinking: I tried Kenkey and I didn't like it at all. I watch three women with babies on their backs sitting under an old store front. A small girl standing next to the crying baby holds a bottle of milk to its mouth.
The Kumasi ticket shed is dead-ahead. I buy my one-inch square piece of printed paper. A helper directs me on board a square-shaped bus. Ten rows, five seats to a row. The number of seats has nothing to do with the number of people that actually sit in them. A row of five might actually seat seven, and a chicken and a bleating goat.
Now I must wait, an opportunity to find purchase on a broken seat between fat market ladies and chickens in black plastic bags and time to suck strawberry frozen yoghurt from a pink plastic bag.
“Sss,” I hiss at the Fanice boy balancing a tall rectangular, glass-fronted container on his head. He pulls the case down and hands me a frozen pink pillow wrapped in a torn piece of newspaper. I hand him a few coins--with my right hand.
Forty-five minutes later, we're ready to go, squashed between farting fishermen, bags strapped and tied on to the roof.
The bus lumbers out of Tantre and up the slopes, landscape transforming from low-lying coastal plains to lush jungle. After a couple of slow-going hours we hit a stretch pot-holed road and bump our way into an urban mass of twisting highways and roundabouts.
We creep towards Kejetia in the mid-day Saturday traffic, bumper to bumper, with vehicles from all over Ghana.
Crowds of pedestrians carrying wares and luggage on their heads, women with babies wrapped on their backs, weave between the caterpillar of vehicles as if they, not the machine, rule the roads.
Welcome to Kumasi.
Kejetia is the busiest part of Kumasi. The adjacent market occupies half a hillside. Shops’ wares spill over into the footpath. Hundreds of mobile traders squeeze between tumbling tables and piles of wares blocking the footpath, buckets balanced and bobbing above crowds like balloons at a birthday party.
Queues reminiscent of rock concerts snake along the footpaths where I wait for a share taxi to my new home. This is a world away from the tranquil, laid-back, ocean-side life of Cape Coast.