Makola Market: Ghana's historical and cultural trade centre

Makola Market

Stories and facts

Makola Market, a renowned marketplace and shopping district, sits at the heart of Accra, the capital of Ghana. The market is a bustling hub where a wide array of products, ranging from car parts to land snails, are sold along its vibrant streets.

Dominated by women traders, Makola offers fresh produce, manufactured and imported foods, clothes, shoes, tools, medicines, and household items such as pots and pans. Locally handcrafted bead jewelry and all types of school materials, including uniforms, pens, books, and stationery, are also available.

Constructed in 1924, Makola Market quickly became central to urban Ghanaian life, serving as the main wholesale and retail marketplace in Accra.

It was the epicenter of trade and one of Ghana's most important social and cultural institutions. However, on August 18, 1979, 55 years after its creation, the market was destroyed by the Rawlings government.

The administration believed that demolishing this key trade center would improve the economy amid accusations that banned products were being sold there, with market women being blamed for the nation's economic woes.

Makola Market gained international attention when it was featured on the Travel Channel show "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations." In the Ghana episode, Bourdain explored the market, sampling local wares and enjoying a condensed milk-toffee drink made with local herbs.

In recent developments, during the "Ghana at 60" anniversary celebration, African print retailers at Makola Market threatened to boycott the sale of the official anniversary cloth due to its high cost.

The cloth, featuring an anniversary logo with three people in an embrace symbolizing Ghanaian unity in diversity, was priced at 240 cedis for 12 yards.

Controversy also struck when the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, claimed that some traders were using formalin, a cancer-causing agent, to preserve salted tilapia, known locally as "koobi."

The traders denied these allegations, expressing shock and concern over the negative impact on their sales since the story emerged.

Makola Market remains a vital and dynamic part of Accra, reflecting the resilience and adaptability of its traders and the rich cultural tapestry of Ghana.

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