In Search of Kelewele

I am sort of terrified of markets.

Not the quiet and quaint farmer’s markets of New England, but market here in Madina, Accra, and the Makola Market in Accra central.

Here are some photos of the Madina market by day. I received explicit permission to take the photos that prominently feature individuals (thank you fish and onion vendors!) and have left the others out. You’ll also notice my cousin Loretta.

These markets are brimming with life. They are full of people, full of smells, full of colors, full of sounds. These markets are full of people selling all sorts of goods, full of people trying to buy all sorts of goods, full of cars, vans and trucks carrying people and cargo.

My Auntie Mercy and Uncle Nash both work in the Makola market. During the unfortunate week without my luggage, I would go into the market with them before going to the airport to check for my belongings. I made some friends, who I may introduce you to later.

Yesterday evening, I really wanted kelewele. I’ve actually been wanting kelewele since I got to Ghana, and have not had any yet. For those who don’t know, kelewele is delicious. Imagine fragrant, ripe plantain covered in a glorious blend of spices, fried to perfection. Kelewele’s got the classics soft inside crispy outside thing going on, and is simultaneously salty and sweet. Don’t you want some? I do too!

Unfortunately, the plantain crop in Ghana was not good this year. Wind, my family has told me, ruined much of the fruit. Now much of it is imported from Cote D’Ivoire, and the price has gone up. The high price of plantains is the reason people just aren’t selling kelewele.

Back to yesterday. Around 7pm, Loretta and I made an excursion to Dzongo junction, in pursuit of kelewele. Zongo junction is part of the Madina market and is a busy spot throughout the night, where people are selling all sorts of goods and making transit on trotro (public van), foot, and car. Loretta was pretty certain that we might find someone selling kelewele there. With our phones and cedis in hand, we stepped outside. I led the way at the beginning. I was excited to find our kelewele and walked briskly.

We did NOT find kelewele. Perhaps we would have if I had pressed onward. But I was overwhelmed, and wanted to go back home. Someone had grabbed my arm to get my attention, another stepped into my face, another pointed at me and the phone I had in hand. There were too many calls for my attention, too many stares, too much fear built up inside.

Perhaps if I were male, or perhaps if I were more successful in looking like I grew up here, I would not have felt so unsafe. But I was feeling a little lost, and wanted to be led back home. We made a detour for a quick purchase, and Loretta remained with me throughout. Once we got to a street I recognized, Loretta let me lead again. I walked briskly, excited that I again recognized my surroundings and yearning to be in home.

Today, we’re going to Aburi gardens. Tonight, we’re making our own kelewele. I’m pretty excited about it.

A photo of me from Sunday. We got to pick up some clothes from our seamstress Gladys, and I also got my hair braided.

On Sunday! new hair + new cloths.png

 

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