Saturday, November 8, 2008

The great Asante capital of Kumasi

Kumasi has a grit about her, no doubt. As Ghana's cultural and commercial center, the air she permeates is proud and independent. Like her sister cities Milan and Barcelona, Kumasi's physical appearance will betray your senses upon your first encounter. She appears cold and callous, her exterior 'tougher than tough'. But underneath that tough appearance lies the very heart and soul of Ghanain culture: hustle.

Kumasi's history is in a class of it's own. Long before the creation of Ghana, Kumasi was the beating heart that pumped life into a once-powerful empire that extended across the tropical forests of the modern day Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo nation-states. The great Asante empire grew rich in trade, as a result of the various kings adherance to property rights for all citizens. This powerful empire fought three wars against Imperial Britain, gaining the upper hand in the first two (i will write more on this later) before succumbing to a massive British force that had just sailed around the African cape from the Maharaja states in India. Fresh from their conquests in India, the battle-hardened troops of Britain and the recent, government intervention in the weapons market (i will write more on this, too), led to the burning and looting of Kumasi by the British.

Neverthless, her citizens are proud of Kumasi and, like the Lombards and the Catalonians, they barely tolerate their great metropolis playing second fiddle to Accra in the modern, colonially-created Ghana because they can take solace in the fact that Kumasi is still the beating heart of a nation all it's own. Indeed, a nation within a nation.

Yes, Kumasi reminds me very much of the cities Barcelona and Milan. From the gritty hustle of her streets to her ever-smiling citizens, she boasts a vibe all her own, yet somehow familiar. Unlike Accra, Kumasi has no extravagent government palaces or pretentious, ill-advised halls for the people; no, Kumasi doesn't need those hollow tributes built with money not their own. Here, there is no place for such useless, bureaucratic waste. For in this bustling city, her citizens like to keep what they earn and respect those who earn it.

1 comment:

Carrie said...

Loved Anna's pictures of the market - unbelievable!