Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tro Tros in Ghana

Tro tros are government licensed but privately owned vans or buses used by school children, office workers and ladies heading to the market to get to their various destinations.It is estimated that 70% of Ghanaians use tro tros on a daily basis.  It is based on the concept of a shared taxi.

There are 2 main ways to catch a tro tro depending on your destination.  One would go to a tro tro station if they would like to get from 1 city to another.  In this case, the tro tro driver will wait till his tro tro is filled with passengers and goods before departing.

 Tro tro station at Kaneshie market.
Trotros entering the station to pick up passengers.
Waiting for the tro tro to fill up with passengers before leaving the station.

The other way to catch a tro tro is anywhere along a route either within the city or between cities.  It is typically operated by a tro tro driver and a conductor who collects the fare and shouts out their destination to potential passengers.

Trolling for passengers

The word Tro is the Ga (local Ghanaian language spoken mainly around Accra) word for 3 pence which was the currency used before Ghana's independence.  This was what it cost then for a single ride. Over the years, prices have increased.  On average, fares are about 7 Ghc (US1.50) per kilometer while within the city, it could cost between 20 to 50 Pesewas (instead of pence) per kilometer.
One of my favourite shots... love the livestock on the roof  : )

There's a kitchen sink somewhere in there!

 Intercity tro tros are packed to the max with various purchases
Packed like sardines


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

How Ghanaian women carry their babies around

Ever since we moved to Accra, Ghana about 13 months ago, I have been fascinated by the way babies are carried around on their mother's backs wrapped in beautiful African fabric. From what I could tell, no pins nor cords are use to hold the piece of fabric in place.  It is just folded and tucked under the same fabric across the mother's chest.  It doesn't seem very comfortable especially when the babies are asleep and their heads bob around unsupported but none of them seem to mind :).

How do the mothers do it without any help?  I was on a constant quest, waiting for an opportunity to catch a glimpse of their secret technique.  The other question was how I was going to capture it all on my camera because Ghanaians tend to be camera shy?  After about 8 months of being vigilant, I was finally rewarded. 

It is all done with such ease and grace.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Kaneshie Market

Having already been to the biggest  market in Accra, Makola market, a few of us decided to explore a smaller market, the Kaneshie market.  In the local Ga language, Kaneshie means 'under the light' referring to how this market first started out as a night market.  Located on Winneba Road, Kaneshie market spreads out along the main road as well as along all the side streets with a 3 storey building located in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.

Built in 1971, many controversies surround the design of the market.  The 2 main issues that have been brought up are the lack of ventilation and the poor natural light conditions in the market.  The market did seem dark and quite a few of the shops had to have their lights turned on even though it was mid morning when we were there.  We also discovered that certain sections of the market felt hotter while other sections had a constant cool breeze flowing through.

Saying that, we were impressed overall with Kaneshie market and found the market to be well organized and clean.  The stall holders also seemed to be much friendlier and in a better mood compared to their counterparts in Makola market.

A view of the hustle and bustle along Winneba Road from Kaneshie market

All around the main 3 storey building, makeshift stalls can be found selling ready made food, fresh vegetables, hardware and clothes, electrical and plumbing parts, etc.

 Motar and pestle for pounding Fufu                             Earthern pots         

Inside the multi storey market .... very clean

         Baby crabs                                              Snails used mainly in soups

     Good selection of fresh veggies             Beautiful smile from the avocado lady

Good selection of fish and seafood

The local butchers

Onions and oil palm sold by the size of the tin cans. 
The onions in the can (bottom left) cost 5 ghc (about US$1.10).

           Grinding up dry spices                    Fermented corn for making the local
                                                               Banku and Kenkey
Love the way legumes and rice are displayed
The shops on the second floor of the market sell mainly shoes, wigs, toiletries, stationery, utensils, pots and pans, etc. for sale.  We did not stay long and headed up to the third floor.

On the third floor of the market, we found rows seamstresses cutting up beautiful African fabric and sewing them.  Most of them use hand cranked sewing machines.  This worked better for them because they would then not have to rely on electricity.  This floor also had many shops selling fabric.


Love these locally designed and hand made cardboard mannequins

The button lady makes cloth cover buttons (a good find)

She also sells all the essentials needed for sewing... zips, interfacing, rolls of ribbons, etc.

We stumbled across a lace maker.  He designs and makes beautiful decorative lace pieces which are sewn on to dresses and tunics.  This is very popular amongst Ghanaians.

A very happy Phyllis.  She is one of the few fabric sellers who is willing to sell GTP fabric by the yard as opposed to a minimum of 6 yards per design.


One of the many fabric stores in Kaneshie market

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A visit to TK Beads Industries

TK Beads Industry, located about 1/2 an hours' drive from Accra is a glass bead manufacturer.  The whole bead making process is handmade by local Ghanaians.  They have been in business since 1989.

My friend, Jacqueline and I decided to head out on an excursion to check out TK Beads a few months ago.  We left Accra at about 10.45 am and arrived in Amrahia just after 11.15am. 

The sign outside the main gates is faded and I would probably have driven right by it.  Thank goodness our driver, Joseph was familiar with the place and took us right to the main gates.

Entrance to TK Beads in Amrahia

Station 1: clear glass is pounded here and various colors are added to the glass powder.

Different colored glasses collected or donated to make the beads.

Clear glass is pounded and sifted.

Color is added to the pounded glass and the molds are filled.  Dried Cassava stems are used in the molds to make sure holes are in place for stringing the beads.

Lady making sure the dried cassava stems are in place.

The team : )

Ovens used to fire up the glass.  The molds are fired for 15 minutes and then removed to make sure the cassava stems have not been burnt off.  If they are, another is inserted and the mold is returned to the oven.

Bead painting station.

Really enjoyed learning how innovative TK Beads is.  They thread the bead through bicycle spokes to paint and fill fan pipes with paint and the pump needles to paint the beads.

Station 2: colored bottles are pounded and the powder is sifted.  In this station, artificial color isn't added to the powdered glass.

Molds are filled with glass powder and inserted into the oven.

Once the glass is molten, the mold is removed from the oven and holes are poked manually.

Ovens used to melt the glass 

The cooled beads are then washed in a bed of sand and water in shallow rock depressions. 

Beads, beads everywhere!

Ladies are employed to string the beads that are sold in the store.  Price per string is about 5 Cedis (about US$1.10) and each string hold about 50 beads depending on size.