1. Go marketing. Get your fruit and veggies from the aunties in the covered market next to the Total station at 37 (opposite MaxMart). Ask them to dash you a little something extra and they’ll usually throw in a couple more mangoes. Get the cloth for your seamstress at Makola. In our humble opinion, if you are shameless about haggling, Accra’s many markets are a way better deal than the supermarkets or malls.
2. Quaff pure water. The most affordable drinking water comes in a plastic sachet. (Back in the day, people would sell little sandwich baggies of ice-cold filtered water, the most delicious water we have ever tasted.) Buy your pure water, bite off a corner (or snip it off with scissors if you’re fancy like that) and drink. Please don’t swallow the little bit of plastic.
3. Make your own fun. All the cool kids go to Republic in Osu. It’s owned by two brothers who make their own akpeteshie (liquor distilled from palm wine or sugarcane) back in their village, cart it to Accra and turn it into cocktails. They are the best cocktails in Accra. There are hotel bars and rooftop restaurants that will happily take 65 cedis (about $15 USD) for drinks that taste like cough medicine (I’m looking at you, Skybar 25!) Don’t waste your money. If artisanal akpeteshie is too fancy for you, further down Oxford Street you’ll find Container, a shipping container (obviously) surrounded by lawn furniture and what seems like the loudest sound system in West Africa. They’ll happily sell you a Star beer and a khebab (if you like street meat of uncertain provenance). To find it, just look for the self-appointed parking attendants/security guards waving rags and torch lights opposite Papaye. Please tip your self-appointed parking attendants/security guards.
4. Accra stay by plan. That’s a common expression meaning that Accra will keep going, with or without you. People move here from all over Ghana—all over West Africa, really. It’s kind of an ‘If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere’ situation. People here have to hustle. Hard. And sometimes in the most absurd conditions. There will be flickering power cuts, known as dum/sor (“off/on” in Twi) in a bit of classic Ghanaian humor.) There may be water shortages. There might be a storm that shuts the entire city down. Your 8 a.m. meeting will start at 10 a.m. because a fuel tanker overturned on the Accra-Tema motorway. Do not let these things derail you. Most people just make an off-color joke and get on with their day as best they can. Accra stay by plan.
5. Make traffic lights your corners stores. Plantain chips! Yoghurt! Credit! Pure water!—the sing-song call of the hawker. You can buy anything and everything—from mobile phone credit top-ups to furniture—at many traffic lights. Our favorite junctions for on-the-go shopping are the 37 Roundabout, Opeibia House (named for the office building), Kawukudi Junction, Kaneshie at first light, and Dzorwulu Junction. If you’re not buying, don’t make eye contact with a hawker and reach for your wallet at the same time, you shameless tease.