Located in West Africa’s lush forest region, Ghana’s capital, Accra, is a vibrant yet easygoing hub worth adding to your list. This heaving metropolis was the backdrop for the birth of African independence in 1957 and continues to capture the hearts and affections of many today. Here are a just a few of the city’s delights.
Ghana’s fashion industry is growing rapidly, and the expanding pool of talented designers is something to admire. Traditionally, Ghana is famed for its kente but has also favoured two piece suits (kabba and slit for women) made from batik wax work textiles, and almost every street has a seamstress kiosk with walls plastered with images of the latest cloth styles and designs. Tailor-made outfits can usually be turned around within a week. At the other end of the spectrum, young Ghanaian designers such as Duaba Serwaa, Poqua Poqu and Christie Brown are gaining international acclaim. Their designs are not just remakes of western couture but are unique, creative and intrinsically African.
Street food in Accra is plentiful, and for me, no long car journey is complete without stopping off for Kelewele (spiced and chopped fried plantain). Visitors shouldn’t eat street food from any and everywhere; however, trying out a ‘chop bar’ (local Ghanaian eatery) is a must to get an authentic taste of Ghana. Buka restaurant in Osu is a local favorite and offers hearty portions of Ghanaian and west African food. As a cosmopolitan city, Accra offers a great wealth of options when it comes to international cuisine, but be warned, they often come with a Ghanaian twist!
Photo Credit: Tante Marie Restaurant
Music and Entertainment
From passing cars to clubs and bars, there is never a shortage of music in Accra. The soundscape is Afrobeat, highlife, reggae as well as western popular music. Live music, in particular, draws distinct crowds across Accra throughout the week. Most evenings, the city’s main hotels feature house bands for relaxing poolside listening. Plus 233 is a renown spot for live jazz and African music. It also plays host to various international acts, including U2’s Bono. The Republic bar and grill in Osu is another, more casual spot that boasts new and emerging acts and serves up amazing cocktails and eats. Accra’s nightlife evolves constantly; many clubs fall in and out of favor in quick succession. Your best bet? Ask an informed local and be prepared to go to two to three places a night. With the sun setting around 6 or 7 p.m., the night is always young.
Arts & Tourism
Ghana is rich in arts and culture, and Accra is just one slice of what the country has to offer. As the capital, though, it has a visual vibrancy that permeates both formal and informal settings. From hand painted advertisements to traditional paintings and carvings, there is much for the eye and mind to feast on. The Arts Centre is a great one-stop shop to pick up gifts and crafts. It houses vendors as opposed to producers, so it’s best to survey all stalls before haggling for the best price. Accra is also home to must-see historical sites such as the Kwame Nkrumah mausoleum, Ghana National Museum and Independence Square.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Ghanaians are known to be amongst the most friendly of their African counterparts. It’s customary to be offered something to drink (and often eat) when visiting a Ghanian home, historically to quench one’s thirst after a long journey. Though the capital itself is home to the Ga people, Accra is also home to people from across the country alongside long established international communities from places such as England, Lebanon, and India. You will hear the greeting “akwaaba” (welcome) as you meet new people, and as friendly as they are, taxi drivers and traders will adjust their prices for even the most cleverly disguised tourists. Your best bet? Arm yourself with a few Twi words and prepare for a haggle.