Tuesday 14 May 2013

Akatsi Market Day

I, Dear Reader, am a shopper. I have accepted this affliction as an incurable aspect of who I am as a person. Thankfully, this particular flaw is manageable…provided I stay away from temptation. The months leading up to my trip to Ghana, I abstained from visiting malls, thus, by the time we went to the Akatsi Market, I was a starved glutton prepared to gorge on a retail feast. 

Mother, Father, you shake your heads as you read this, but you are grinning too, which is why I love you so. Savers, shrug that penny pinching chip off your shoulder and stay with me a while longer for I am not completely hopeless.

Indeed, as soon as I arrived at the first stand I discovered fabrics drenched in colours so vibrant, I feared for my wallet. My eyes widened while the impulses of excitement caused frissons in my fingertips as I brushed them against the textiles as if sensing the divine harmonies embodied by the patterns, textures and colours.  Despite my wonderment, I managed to refrain from purchasing anything from our first stop (please, hold your applause). 

 Godsway, our friend and guide, led us through the market. Our feet shuffled in the spaces between stalls while we marveled at the treasures each contained. Stands with fabric were all similar in their construction; rungs of bamboo spaced one foot apart from each other connected the ground to the ceiling, which created a multi-coloured and intricate patterned wall. With these displays, curiosity came simply and focus became impossible while spending was probable and excitement palpable. 

It became most evident that our little group had prioritized the search for one particular item above the rest: fabric. The reason being you might ask: her name is Angelina and she works wonders. Angelina makes our clothing. She is fabulously talented and dedicated to her craft. She creates the most lovely and flattering pieces. She only needs us to provide fabric and describe the article of clothing we desire. In essence, our dearest Angelina is a shopper’s dreams come true.

With her talents in mind, the splendors of creativity bewitched us all. “This would be great for a shirt,” “a Maxi dress in this print would be so pretty,” “Perfect for a wrap!” and “would this look too 80’s if I had them made into pants?” became the foundation of our conversations. 

Upon discovering a fabric with a pattern and colour of my liking, I submit to my shopping addiction and purchased (bonus: the price was 5 USD). Triumph of a great find left me on the highs of buyer’s satisfaction. Foofaraw crossed with phantasmagoria for the fabric provoked in me fascination; it was perfectly idoneous for the clothing my imagination had conjured up.

While the joys of retail bliss were lovely yet my blood enriched by anticipation for the oddities I knew were to come. I found myself wildly intrigued by foods I had not the courage to try, dumbfounded by oddities that I am assuming were commonplace. These discoveries thrilled my fascination with diversity, for I take pleasure in discomfort and enjoy the ways in which curious items cause me to imagine their use in society.

Our quest and affinity for the aesthetically pleasing and our curio for the quirky was broken up by instances of comic relief.

Since arriving in Ghana I have been proposed to five times, the fifth being there, at Akatsi Market.
I shot Dennis an S.O.S. face and introduced him as my husband dearest. Improv can be a tricky duet to pull off but this single gesture was ample explanation and thankfully, he did not skip a beat. Look Ma, finding a husband is easier than you let on! But all joking aside, my proposer bowed out and left us to our business.

I recognize that all the hullabaloo transmits into bliss if you will only silence your affinity for consumerism. The market provides more than an exhilarating experience. It gifts me the opportunity to engage with an environment that is teeming with activity. Human interaction.

One constant I noticed while wandering the Akatsi Market was the amount of women. I enjoyed interacting with such charismatic sales women who were their own bosses. I admire their tact. As a young woman, I too hope to be the master of my bankroll one day: perchance as a leader in my selected discipline. In a patriarchal society, these women are my apricity. My muse.

Another pondering instant was the noting of so many unnecessary luxuries, such as inexpensive hair extensions (which I restraint myself from purchasing. This time, Dear Reader, you may applaud – if you feel so inclined). These sorts of items remind me of the ways in which we live in excess. I pose a query to myself – has consumerism become an intrinsic aspect of humanity? But that, Dear Reader, is another story all together. 

As much as I enjoyed the observation of items and people, I was sharply aware of the various sensory stimulations the Akatsi Market inflicted upon me. The heat and sweat were a constant. This is something I have accepted but am always conscious of. With the sweat and heat, an inevitable third wheel tags along: aroma. The scent of stale sweat and dried fish came in waves. In addition, cacophonic elements stimulated my auditory curiosity. Gospel music played loudly on a static plagued sound system. It was frequently interrupted by exultations for the Lord on a megaphone.

Ultimately, I have come to enjoy markets, for the cultural aspect of their environment out-carols my lust for shopping. While I am not habitually a sentimentalist, I find that the items I acquired maintain a particular power to them. They are intrinsically attached to the memories I have created throughout this experience at the Market and throughout the course. 

Think me a maudlin, a consumer, a cultural curio, a “wife”, or merely a reckless soul in the search of the perfect fabric, but as we piled into the Fridge, each one of my fellow companions displayed a Christmas-Day-smile that, in its own goofy way, made me a witness of bliss.


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