Accra is a diverse city, and you will find up-scale restaurants and clubs with prices similar to Europe – but you will also find local areas where you can fill up your tummy for a few dollars or less.
If you want to see another side of Accra, follow this walking route and experience the local life in some of the impoverished parts of Accra, and pick some local street food on the way.
Nima is known to be an “unsafe” part of Accra – but from personal experience I can tell you that having a stroll in this part of town is far from a high risk activity. Now, I will not recommend you to wander off in this are alone at night since I do not know this area inside out (I´m a newbie after all), but during the day you will be fine.
How do I know?
I happen to settle in Nima three weeks ago, so I roam the streets here every day! People are curious, since there are no other white people staying in this area – but they are friendly.
Nima is one of the unplanned settlements in Accra, and the area lack a proper sanitation system. Most people fetch their water in water station, and have to pay to use public toilets which are scattered around the area. Despite this is regarded a poor area of town, it is buzzing with life and business from early morning till late night.
Start your tour from Nima Police Station by the Ring Road, and walk up Nima Road. When you get to the roundabout, continue straight. In case you get lost – everyone will be able to direct you back to Nima roundabout! You are now entering Nima Market, and you will meet the chaos of cars, vendors and customers who are busy to close their deals. To avoid the worst part of the street, branch right through the yellow overhead banner, and walk through the main market in Nima.
The roadside in Nima market is a good place to grab a snack and a sachet of ice cold water.
After working your way through spices, grains, beans, chickens, veggies and hundreds of people you will hit the Nima Road again, and you continue straight. When you reach the big drain, branch left and walk down the street, then branch right over the bridge where the road turn slightly left. Walk straight up the road, and branch off the fourth road to your left to enter Newtown.
This is a busy road with a lot of small shops selling everything from clothes, shoes, mattresses, electronics and beauty products.
Similar to Nima you will find small food stalls along the street. After passing Bennett Memorial Clinic you can branch second left onto Hill Street which will lead you back to the roundabout, or you can take the third left if you want to pass buy the Mallem Atta Market.
If you eat vegetarian you may struggle to find street food which is guaranteed no meat. Fried yams and plantains served with chili sauce is one option, the sweet doughnut-like bread ball boo-froot is another option. You will also find fresh bread with Blueband, boiled eggs served with chili sauce – and you can try to find freshly made akkala, a fried ball made from grinded black eyed beans (I think they are free of meat broth).
Everything else will probably contain meat or broth of some kind. If you see a stack of eggs and instant noodles you can buy yourself a delicious meal of indomie, the noodles are prepared as you wait and mixed with vegetables, eggs – and if you like some canned beef or sardines. You will find different kind of stews everywhere – groundnut soup, palm soup, okra stew and fish stew, and they are served with a starchy ball of banku (made from corn and/or cassava), kenkey (made from fermented maize) or fufu (mixed cassava and plantains).
Other dishes you may find are red-red (bean stew), jollof rice (rice booked in tomato sauce) and waakaye (rice and beans). Also look out for waagashi, a local cheese which is grilled or fried. From the grills you get fresh grilled fish and meat.
If you are not comfortable walking on your own in the area, there is a walking tour on request in Nima with a guy called Charles, he is a jovial and knowledgeable guy who knows a lot about the history of Nima – and this may be a good choice if you just want a guide or also want to get deeper into the area and pass by some local families.
Have you been in Ghana? What was your favorite local food?