Week 3 – Oxford Street Accra

Joshua Steinborn – 111547440

This week’s readings were from the book Oxford Street Accra by Ato Quayson.  It was very interesting for me to read the few chapters of this book as it presented a lot of information about subjects which I had only been able to witness as an outside observer.  Chapter 4 begins by discussing the importance of slogans and inscriptions which are present on everything from moving vehicles to stationary businesses.  Many of these slogans are religious, traditional sayings or lesson’s learned by the owner or writer.  In essences, the continued use of these sayings and slogans work as a dynamic archive of historical information and traditional knowledge.  I find this particularly interesting.  While visiting Ghana, I observed many of these slogans written on shops, bars, buses, trucks, and donkey carts.  As I was simply a “tourist”, I only took these at their face value or a source of amusement.  So it is fascinating to look back on my experience and rethink my observations to consider the meaning behind the slogans that I saw.

Quayson also discusses the increasing popularity of salsa dancing and fitness training of people from all walks of life.  However it also serves to show the separation between social classes.  The salsa dancing appealing to a middle or higher class while fitness training tends to be more popular with the lower and working classes.  This degree of separation is not unlike what is seen in many other metropolitan areas around the world.  I think that this is what the author is trying to convey through his exposition in the book.  Accra is a thriving city with a booming economy.  Many aspects of its culture are represented and expressed throughout society.  As such, Quayson is drawing similarities with cities such as New York and Toronto.  Although I found the drawbacks of these comparisons are not particularly addressed by the author and would have greatly helped the narrative within these chapters.

Question: As much as Accra, in particular Oxford Street, is a fast development area of Ghana, are the profits of development stretching to the rest of the country, or does Oxford street remain an economic bubble?

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