We took a tro-tro (minibus) to Takoradi, the third largest city in Ghana after Accra and Kumasi, with a population of roughly 300,000. After opening it’s port in 1928 it became the most important port in the country until the development of Tema in 1961, which lies 22km east of Accra. Although it is no longer the most famous port in the area, the discovery of oil 65km off the coast of Takoradi is set to ensure that Takoradi will regain its status as an economic hub in the years to come.
As in most economic centers Takoradi is a city bustling with commerce, and as in any African city ‘bustling’ implies verging on complete chaos, and ‘commerce’ implies piles upon piles of everything from lace to livers, which attract customers like moths to a flame.
The sellers on the streets call out to passers by with an intonation that sounds more like offenses or outraged threats, than persuasive enticements.
In the center of the city is a circular market that epitomizes the chaotic magic of the place. Once one enters all sense of direction must be surrendered to the winding paths buttressed by small stalls overflowing with merchandise.
Upon entering this circular cavern, one feels as if they have entered through a door of that magical quality, whereby the world one is entering is entirely different in all measures of reality and sense, from that left behind. Like C.S. Lewis’ famous Wardrobe, it seems like the only possible rhyme to this kingdom’s reason must have been conjured by imagination alone.
The deeper one permeates into winding labyrinth, the more often darkness replaces light. As the path narrows, merchandise and corrugated iron roofs from adjacent stalls congeals into a ceiling, allowing only a few shafts of light to enter through unaccounted holes to the outside world. Every so often these shafts of light will flicker, indicating a large load on women’s head has floated by.
Women dominate this kingdom, with stares strong enough to effect neurosis, indifferent eyebrows and grunts evoke an invitation to challenge. The only way to win over these sovereigns is to learn their game, and play it; that is, the game of artful comebacks and bartering.
The children serve their mothers, however as the light beams entering in through the ceiling close, they are the first to be affected by the wave of sleep which wafts through the alleys like an intoxicating gas, and signals thei imminent return to the outside world.