It was an exceptionally amazing experience to head to Tamale Market place, and I would highly recommend it to those who have only been to the South. The journey up from Accra or Cape Coast can be long, but I would recommend getting the Metro bus as locals told us it was safer as a traveller to be amongst other locals where non-AC conditions would mean the bus would less likely be attacked (although this is rare). By visiting the Northern region, you attain a much more rounded vision of what Ghana is actually like and the diversity of people and religion within the country. I would strongly recommend looking around Tamale's two market places, and make sure you interact with those at the market with a smile. It is strongly recommended that you, say good morning in Dagbani, the local language, in order to come across less of an intruder. Good morning is "DESEBA" to which the response is "NAAA". Whilst there, we shot a short documentary of the market place. If you would like to see it, please click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-fuk5ya9ZsE
East from the National Cultural Centre, and west from the Police Headquarters, you will find a huge open space in Tamale. This open space is called the Police Park. Around it you will see a lot of buildings that are the accommodations of the police officers, and the park is completely surrounded by walls with only a few entrances.
The Police Park is often mentioned in travel guides as "Football Field" but although they do a lot of things there, they don't play football here. Instead, the Police Park is used for all kinds of manifestations and events. In the period I'm was in Tamale I saw three big events there. First there was a big demonstration of the Ghanaian teachers against the government and during the islamic event Eid-Al-Fitr (in Ghana called Sala-day) there was an enormous amount of people praying together here. A few weeks later an important conference was held here leaded by Ghana's first lady. The yearly New Years celebration will also take place here, and no doubt a lot of other events throughout the year.
Another must-see in Tamale is the central market, in the heart of town. In the streets around it you will see the bigger things being sold, from bicycles to furniture, and from fridges to coffins. Inside the market you don't see anything like that. There it is all about food. Smelly dried fish, big bags of rice, pigheads, cowlegs, but also fresh vegetables, spices, typical Ghanaian red oil and lots of delicious fruits.
Besides food you will also see a lot of kitchen gear and colourful cloth. There is no structure in the market as far as I know. I've not been able to trace it... The best way to see it and to find something is just to start wandering around. There is no way you can get lost, because it's not that big.
Do note that in Ghana people don't like to have their picture taken. So if you want to take some pics on the market it's wise to ask before or even give them some money for it. Otherwise they can make a problem out of it...
A very nice excursion from the centre of Tamale is a visit to the suburb called Zongo. Here, almost all people living here are involverd in the leather making process.
At a small, dusty square, the locals are willing to show you every part of the process, from the dead goat to the sandal. A very nice tour! When I visited the place they asked me to pay 10.000 cedis for the tour, about $ 1,-. Worth the money!
At the end, they of course ask you to buy some of their (nice) leatherworks, but if you're not interested they won't hassle you.
To get there from the centre of town you should pass the central mosque coming from Bolgatange Road. At the trafficlights turn left to Hausa Zongo Road and in the big bend to the right, you should take the second street to the left. This is the Zongo Area. Here you will find a lot of leathershop, and you can just ask for the factory and you will be pointed to there.
The most impressing building in the whole of Tamale definitely is the Central mosque that is visible from almost everywhere in the citycentre. It is a big, yellow building with one minaret at every corner of it. In the middle there is a big dome that is the center of the construction.
Outside of the praying hours you are welcome to visit the mosque at any time. You just have to ask a guard at the main entrance an he will arrange someone to guide you around. The inside is not very spectacular, beside the fact that is very large building and that it looks very neat for Ghanaian standards. It is possible to even enter the narrow corridor inside the dome: the highest point of the mosque, but when I was there they were not able to find the key of the door that leads to there. From the second floor you also have a great view of the city centre of Tamale, and it is a great place to cool down, because inside the temperature is very nice.
You are expected to donate a small amount of money as a tip, after you signed the guestbook. An amount of 10.000 cedis (about 1 US$) is normal.