Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Barbie Dolls and Peacocks at the Accra Mall

I was just speaking with Old John. I asked him to tell me about markets long ago in this land. He said before colonisation, there were no fixed marketplaces where you could go and buy stuff daily.

There was a ‘watering hole’ where people and peoples from North and South met on scheduled days to barter salt for fish, cotton for iron, kontomire for cane rat, kola for white clay. When the goods were finished, they’d barter news. A man took a fifth wife; a woman had her Badu Dwan (a celebration of her tenth child); a boy and girl were banished from their town for festive fornication.

When the news is digested, messages would then change hands (or ears). A man sends his love to a maiden – he sends it with a guinea hen. A woman sends a half-piece of calico cloth to her daughter who lives with her sister at a far-off place.

Then, I told Old John about the Accra Mall; about the overdressed Barbie dolls and Peacocks that flock its corridors and spaces from morning till midnight. Old Man John said he was little surprised. Pre-colonial market day was also a time to show off wealth, magic, beauty, wives, horses, cattle, sons and daughters.

Old John thought the fixed market was introduced by European merchants to enable them offload their little-needed goods of European cloth, alcohol, guns and gunpowder, tobacco, mirrors and hats(!) to Africans!

So a mall may be American, but Accraians remain African!


  1. *smiling* What an an allegory! and so true. Some things never change.

  2. I hope i'm not considered one of those peacocks and barbie dolls lol. Glad to see that we continue to corrupt everything the western world has to offer.

    I'm even more glad that I do do my news, message and general bartering at makola ;) Then again, have you seen the barbie dolls down town?!!!

  3. I sure hope, the peacocks includes the men, cos they play dress up too.

  4. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu25 August, 2010

    I'm sure the preening people will soon get bored and allow it to serve as a proper signpost of Gh's development.

  5. But the mall isn't a sign post of Ghana's development. We have the smallest mall I have ever been in, EVER!

    In the US, the mall is the place that tweens and teens go hang out. Where they will grab a pizza and gossip about this or that or argue over who gets to date whom. The only difference is that, in America, people don't dress up to go to the mall or any stores. Here, we wear our dinner outfits and show up to diss on someone's bad fashion sense. (smh) Wise up Ghana. It's a shopping centre, not a celebrity event. Sheesh

  6. Lol! I was at the Mall two days ago and it was an interesting sight. Teenagers were everywhere and some were dressed like peacocks. Ha!

  7. Well! We might as well turn the Accra Mall into a catwalk.

  8. Well, interesting views all round. I see we agree that people dress impractically to the mall just to show off. But I think we can excuse the teen kids, though I wonder if they'd rather not just feel comfy.... @ everybody.

    Um, the peacocks (note 'cocks', ahem) are the guys, and the Barbie dolls are you-know-who... @ Lucci

  9. Kwame Mensa-Bonsu29 August, 2010

    lol @ Daixy....I have never seen/been to Gh's famous mall, but surely people have start from somewhere? Ow!


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