Makola Market is one of the most beautiful markets in Accra, displaying colour and a burst of African cultures.
Address: Kojo Thompson Road, Accra, Ghana.
Opening Hours: 8 am – 6 pm (Mondays – Sundays)
Located in the heart of Ghana, this market with its cultural and historical significance is the right place to be for first-time tourists that are looking to get a wide variety of African products ranging from African food and clothing to rare African goods and artefacts. It is also the perfect place for first-time tourists who want to experience the innate cultural taste of Ghana.
How To Get To Makola Market
Makola Market is very easy to find. It is the oasis of markets in Accra, making it very popular among locals and tourists alike and easily accessible. If you’re using public transport, you could ask for directions from the locals. Use Google Maps in case you’re driving or taking a cab.
Know Before You Go
- Go with A Guide: Go with a guide preferably, since it is your first time, for directions and to gain ample knowledge of the market.
- Don’t Go With Your Vehicle: Finding the right parking spot can be quite a task. Traffic is quite intense as well.
- Keep Your Valuables Safe: There are quite a lot of pickpockets.
- Always ask for Directions: The market is very large. You may get lost without directions.
- Compare products with other traders to get the right price.
- Be prepared for the congestion: Pedestrians and vehicles alike.
- Wear comfortable footwear for long walks.
What To Do At Makola Market?
Experience A Lasting First Impression
One of the first things that will strike you as you enter the market are the sounds, the smells and the picturesque sights of traders and their products. Rare Ghanian spices fill the air adding its fragrance to the environment. Customers and traders are constantly haggling prices while a sea of other customers spills onto the narrow streets of the market.
The market is also coincidentally located at the centre of Accra. It was built during the 20th century when Ghana was still under colonial rule. At the moment it is one of the highest spots for commercial activities in the city.
This colourful market also lay claims to a wide range of manufactured products, farm produce, imported wears, indigenous products and specialized services. Every day, millions of cedis are generated in revenue from the market. The market, which the locals sometimes call the Central Business District comprises of interconnected compartments. Technically, if you’re going into this place, be sure to keep your belongings close to you. Also, if you’re someone who has a phobia of crowds, you may want to take precautions as the crowd can be overwhelming almost all the time.
The Makola market has a lot of compartments. Some of them include the south of Jamestown which is one of the original settlements in Accra, Kantamanto which is the second-largest cloth market in Ghana, Cowlane, Okaishie and Rawlings Park. In these quarters, you would find specific and sometimes rare goods and services. They also contribute to sectioning the market into different angles.
Good, open-air market place overflowing with people, goods, and sounds. You will find a lot of goods – second hand and new. You will find sellers for cloth material, utensils, handbags, food items…you name it and it’s there.- Vidhi Bathia, Google Local Guide
Explore Its History
As stated earlier, the Makola Market was built during the colonial rule in the 20th century. It is quite easy to see traces of the market’s experience during and after the colonial era.
For instance, during the 1948 riots, a wide range of shops that belonged to foreign merchants was looted during the protests which also propelled more activism for independence. Additionally, in 1979, a large portion of the market was destroyed by the then military ruler Jerry J Rawlings. Even though there were a lot of allegations from the Government about market traders falsifying scarcity of products and inflating prices for their gain, the market stayed strong.
The destroyed portion was used to build a car park, known as Rawlings Park dedicated to serving both traders and visitors alike. It also witnessed the Ghanian independence.
Although there are so many other markets and shopping malls in Accra, Makola market is still the centre of all trading activities. You will witness people in their thousands transacting and connecting with the traders. Also, agricultural produce from different regions of the country including other countries like Burkina Faso gets to Makola before they are being distributed to smaller markets in the city.
The Makola Market is also an important influence on the political and economic development of Ghana because of the revenue it generates for the Ghanian government. Likewise, the market traders are core voters. So, it means that anyone who would like to be in power should succeed at gaining the interest of the majority of the traders.
Visit at The Best Time
If you’re interested in experiencing the market during its busiest and fullest of days, then you should go on a Wednesday or a Saturday. This is the period where most of the shops restock with goods specific to them. The major sections of the market also open all week from 6 am to 8 pm.
Fantastic experience on this hot sweaty Weds. Busier than usual but you cannot get any closer to this Busy African outdoors Market. Each corner brings you a surprise. Friendly locals. No hassle from vendors but a warm welcome added their Ghanaian smile…-Natinho Lima, Google Local Guide
Shop In Style
You need a lot of patience to shop. Your patience would most definitely get you the best prices. The market is competitive and quite a lot of traders sell almost the same products. Most traders devise new and sometimes aggressive ways to lure customers to themselves. However, make sure you’re patient, then take your time to inspect what you’d like to buy carefully. Afterwards, make sure you negotiate with the trader so you can get a good price from him/her.
Peppers & Straw hats…The local Ghanaian women are like the aunties you never met… – @elleabod, Instagram
Visit Iconic Sections
Makola market has some interesting spots you shouldn’t miss. One of the most popular is Kantamanto; Ghana’s second-largest clothing market. In this section, you’d find a variety of outfits. From the traditional Kente fabrics to winter jackets, work clothes, vintage sports jerseys and even cowboy boots. After a long and exhausting walk, you should take a break by visiting the food stalls at Rawlings Park. Here, you’ll be treated to Accra’s indigenous delicious cuisine. You would also get the opportunity to see the memorial garden built in honour of Nii Tackie Tawiah III, one of the chiefs of the Ga people (inhabitants of Accra).
Makola Market Precautions
Whether you’re visiting to purchase products and services or sightsee, make sure you go with a guide. A lot of the time, pedestrians and street hawkers are most times competing for space in the narrow pavements and you may just get lost in between. Additionally, because a lot of the subsections are not well labelled, you may easily get lost while searching for something to buy. Navigating your way can be a hassle and you don’t want to be talking to the wrong people.
It’s best to always hold your bag(s) containing your belongings in front of you or where you can see them. There are so many pickpockets in the market. Most of the businesses in the market are open and in full view of the market. So, make sure you avoid enclosed places as they are not genuine.
Take a cab or public transport to the market. If you go with your car, you may be stuck in intense traffic. It can easily become a bad experience for you because of it. It is also best to go with comfortable footwear, sunglasses, a hat or a cap to protect you from sunlight and keep your feet from hurting during the long walks.
For a tourist who has never visited the Makola market before, it can be overwhelming. There are so many reasons why this is plausible. For one, you do not have the luxury of directions or welcome signs, making it easy to get sucked into the busy market. However, with a little patience and calmness, and you create camaraderie with the people while exploring all that the market has to offer, you’ll find it to be one of the most memorable places you have been to in Accra.