The Koforidua Beads and Craft Market
Koforidua is a town in Eastern Region of Ghana located approximately 80 km from the capital and main commercial centre, Accra.
Brief History & Location
The market is believed to have been in existence for over 200 years, previous locations having included open spaces. The current site is dedicated market facility provided by the local government authority and is a weekly beads and crafts market which happens on a Thursday at the Gallaway neighbourhood next to the Koforidua Jubilee Park. Locals are usually happy to give a visitor directions.
The space is filled with a myriad of units varying from shops to open-sided stalls (which look like temporary structures to the visitor) to table top displays. With facilities like these it goes without saying that on a rainy Thursday the market is pretty quiet.
With no gates to open or shut, opening hours are quite flexible although trading begins from the very early hours of the morning between 6 and 7 am. By 3pm activity has quietened down considerably.
What is Available to Buy?
Goods on offer include:
- Beaded jewellery
- Jewellery findings
- Glass beads raw materials such as broken louvre blades and glass bottles
- metal bars,
- leather and cowry bags
- brass products and artefacts,
- wood carvings and,
- And anything else which might interest customers. There will, for example be small food and drinks sellers.
Where Do the Beads Come From?
(Map of Ghana Showing these locations)
While some products originated from Ghana, others have been imported into the country. Many traders stock both imported and locally produced beads and the origin of goods include:
- Ghana: Krobo Odumase, Somanya, Kumasi, and Accra are places in Ghana where glass and brass beads are made.
- Other West African countries:
- Mali is noted for its clay and antique glass beads as well as some vinyl disc beads
- From Nigeria come vinyl/vulcanite discs beads
- La Cote d’Ivoire made some brass beads too
- Kenya’s bone beads are popular here
- Vast imports of glass beads come in from China and India and you’re bound to find some in the market. Buyer needs to beware of some of these being passed off as antique.
Two categories of traders can be found in the market: Bead-makers who are also vendors and traders who solely buy to sell on. While the larger and more established, well-to-do traders can afford a shop, even huge custom-made setup up, the majority of small retailers have open-sided shops or table tops. For still others a flimsy covering such as a plastic sheet on the ground is all they can afford to display their beads on (no reason to discount them, because beautiful treasures can be found there too). Traders here are of all ages, from youth starting to earn a living through petty trading to old people who, without a pension, have little option but to work through their old age. Some of the established traders have learnt the business from a parent and sell in other locations and markets in the country.
What Can You Expect On Your Visit?
- Uneven unpaved ground, sandy and stony in places, muddy in the rainy season.
- Rows of stalls and shops
- Lots of colour! Glass beads are largely colourful but you will also find some darker coloured ones mainly in clay and bauxite.
- Going round all the shops and stand takes hours and just when you think you have seen every trader, you notice another one!
- Go over budget because there are so many tempting beads on offer and you’re likely to be like a kid in a sweet shop. Cash machines are not within easy access so it will help to have enough money with you.
- Quite a bit of noise as traders call out to draw customers’ attention to their goods
- Not uncommon to find a trader eating their breakfast or lunch behind their goods and still manage to conduct business with you if needed.
- Friendliness: Ghanaians are very friendly and hospitable, and your trip will be even more enjoyable if you can engage in some banter, small talk and perhaps a bit more about Ghanaian culture.
- Cash purchases only in cedis, and no receipts.
Expecting To Haggle?
However many beads you want to purchase there is no wholesale price and beating prices down appears to be a thing of the past. Instead, a seller might throw in a few extra items for free.