Accra - Capital of Ghana
Accra and its city parts
Accra – the capital of Ghana and its political and economic center. A city of millions and a huge conglomerate that is very difficult to grasp. This starts with its borders, some of which are completely flowing to the neighbouring cities, and I myself do not yet know how this city is actually structurally divided – what are independent cities, what are districts – but ultimately this plays a role. also no role, as long as you somehow understand where you have to go or even want to go. In some cases, however, this alone is already difficult enough. I remember a situation within the first few weeks where the Tema Station in the middle of Accra was designated as a meeting point. In the end, however, we as a group were in the city of Tema, a few kilometers from the actual destination. This is all the more annoying when you are also stuck in commuter traffic, because Accra is completely congested on its main roads. The city is growing rapidly and even if the infrastructure is expanded, it is hardly enough to meet the ever-increasing demands.
Every year I noticed how fast Accra is changing. Within the six years i have regularly travelled to Ghana, many points that are striking to me have disappeared and some corners have been completely redesigned. However, this development has been going on for some time. As I was told, 10 years before my first trip, there were hardly any more high-rise houses in the city. Today there are some large complexes and hotels in the "centre" and in the area around the airport. Modernly designed malls can now be found at several corners. For many residents, of course, these are also popular attractions and positive evidence of the economic development of the country, or at least this part of the country. For me, these are rather the boring places, whereas for me the attraction lies more in the narrower alleys, the chop bars, the markets – wherever things are a little different than you know it in Germany. Such a modern mall is the same in every corner of the world.
In the previous section, I had already put the word centre in goosebumps, because in fact it is somewhat difficult to identify a classic centre in this patchwork of city. But what comes closest to this is the coastal strip around Black Star Square between the Jamestown and Osu neighborhoods. Here are quite close to each other, e.g. the National Theatre, the National Stadium, the Art Center (a kind of market and center for local culture and craftsmanship), some ministries and banks as well as the Makola Market, one of the most important markets of the city. The Black Star Square itself, the country's Independence Square, is used for various major events, with the annual Independence Day celebrations on March 6. On the whole, the architectural sights of the city in this corner were ticked off relatively quickly with a tour. As I said, it gets much more exciting in the big and small markets and all the corners where everyday life plays out, which of course follows the general rules of a big city, but also has very specific facets to offer everywhere.
Flexibility, apart from the high volume of traffic and the time involved, is fortunately not a problem at all in Accra. Feels every third car in this city is a taxi and you can hardly walk ten steps on a road without a driver alerting you with his horn to the transport option he offers. If you decide to do so, it is only a matter of making it clear to the driver where you want to go and a little negotiating skill is required. The journey with a so-called trotro is significantly more cost-effective, but at the same time also somewhat more cramped and usually more time-consuming. These are vans equipped with benches and serve a wide range of routes for a very low fare. Here, however, one should know even more where exactly it should go and to understand the basic system takes quite a few trips. But once you see through the whole thing, trotros in the city are a really cheap means of transport.
Since I lived mostly in the peripheral areas during my stays, I was quite often dependent on this kind of locomotion, because with all the joy of running, one quickly reaches its limits in Accra and the surrounding area. Within the neighborhoods, however, running is again a very good idea to absorb everyday life here. You can also enjoy some advantages of the way of life, such as traders who walk through the streets with their goods and you can buy a freshly cut pineapple for just a few cents – a perfect refreshment in sunny weather.
I spent most of my time in Accra in the suburbs of Achimota, Dome, Legon and Madina, all of which have little real centre except for their markets. Here we simply live and work, whereby I would structurally distinguish between two ways of life that determine the everyday life that can be perceived from the outside. For many, life tends to take place outside. People live in small houses, often share a common courtyard where you sit, wash, cook, talk and play the children of the neighborhood together. There are also those families who live in larger houses, which are usually surrounded by a large wall and which are accordingly more closed off. Unless you are dealing with such a family, visitors will receive only a limited insight into their lives, with the first case primarily shaping the external image of everyday life in the residential areas. A common feature of the neighborhoods is that the larger streets are mostly lined with small shops, stalls, bars and classic shops. These supply veins run through the city, while in the quieter side streets the houses stand. Especially here it is incredibly easy to get completely lost in winding alleys. Luckily, the Ghanaians are usually super helpful and as a white European you notice here anyway like a colorful dog. The challenge is still to be able to locate where the real goal lies without street names and house numbers.