Kumasi market is the largest open air market in Ghana, and the second largest in Africa. The market is famous in W-Africa, and traders come from other countries to sell their goods here. The market is a sprawling and chaotic place. It is located right in the city centre, on the former railway track.
Ghana zoo is a well established zoo, founded in 1957. The location in the downtown is great with the big marked is right beside. You enter through a gate where the ticket counter is a table to the right side. Quite basic and typical African. The first thing you see is a fence with ostrich and some other birds. All the other animals are inside houses. After having a look, I thought the zoo wasn't too inviting. It costs 5 GHC to enter, and you can park a car inside.
Get out of the city to one of the craft villages - there is a well worn tourist route to the North East - Kente, Adinkra and carving villages - but you should also try Krofrom to the South a brass casting village, about 30 minutes from town. There are buses but its easier to charter a taxi. There is a video and more information on my web site at http://www.fiema.com/brass.htm
The Ashanti were skilled at both iron and bronze work for centuries before the arrival of the Europeans. Very large bronze work startled the first Europeans, both for the skill and artistic quality. At the Ashanti Cultural Arts Center, there is a bronze master who demonstrates the lost wax method of casting. First, the molds are made. Wax pieces are themselves molded, and clay "straws" attached, and then second, a combination of ash and clay are molded around the wax. Third, the clay molds are fired to make them durable, and the wax drains out in the firing process, leaving a void for the molten bronze. The bronze master gathers scrap bronze from auto parts, plumbing fixtures, etc. and puts them into a vessel that won't melt. He uses a small fire of charcoal and to bring the heat of the fire to melt the bronze to 2020F, he would traditionally use bellows to fan the flame. Now, he uses an old leave blower. Then the bronze has cooled, the mold is broken, and the bronze pieces cleaned with citrus juice. Our Ashanti bronze master reported that he had visited the United States at the invitation of a middle school teacher.
In the open air market, currency are traded, jewelry sold, pots & pans, clothing, and a vast number of foodstuffs are sold, including freshly butchered meat. The butchers didn't like me taking photos of them while they worked, so I have only this one image of a smiling butcher and his scale. Reportedly, bush meat is sold in markets like this, but I didn't see anything but chickens, beef, lamb, pork, and fish. There were lots of flies buzzing around, so I was disinclined to buy.
Close to the city center on a hill that dominates the city, there is a complex of run down colonial era brick and clapboard buildings, which were originally the location of the Ashanti king's fortifications, later British military housing, and today Ghana military housing. The soldiers aren't paid very much, so families keep goats.
My new compact printer gadget helped boost my ability to get lovely images. The young handsome people working in the fabric section of the marketplace easily matched the brilliant colors of their background.
The Ashanti Cultural Arts Center also has some furniture makers, some who use plank boards carved in ornate ways, and others who make cane furniture. We were lucky enough to have a friend include some of the cane furniture in a container that she shipped to California, allowing us to avoid the complications of shipping the furniture ourselves. But, we didn't buy our furniture here.
The African cotton fabrics are in general wonderful for their rich colors. There are a great many exotic print fabrics available in the marketplace, but watching batik coloring of fabric is fun. My friend and guide found a like minded young woman who explained to me how the work was carried out. I was by this time pretty sweaty from a day of hiking in the tropical heat, but my host wanted my guide to take a picture of us together. I printed a copy off on my portable printer, and then took pictures of her and them together. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to make clothes on this visit, but naturally I did buy some sample fabrics for my wife to sew.
Some of the best shopping is done at this park like atmosphere of artisans at work. Ashante Kente cloth is a very tightly woven double sided technique that turns out a relatively narrow, but unlimited length fabric. Kente cloth is used for sashes of various types. Kente cloth strips are sewn together to provide wider cloth.