IN THE HEART OF ASHANTI
PREMPEH II STREET, ADUM
A PhotoWalk By Isaac Immanuel Opuni Frimpong
Kumasi, fondly called the Garden City, is the cultural center of Ghana and Adum, its business district sits right in the heart of this city bursting with color, life, music and art. The central nerve of Adum is Prempeh II Street, a point of convergence of architecture, history, business and culture. I call it –wait for it –The Times Square of Kumasi!
I’ll be taking you on a fun ride through Prempeh II Street. Just think of me as your guide, giving you an insight into this important cultural and business environment.
The iconic Prempeh II Street was named after Otumfuo Sir Osei Tutu Agyemang Prempeh II, the monarch of the Asante Kingdom from June 1931 to May 1970. To prove that he’s still the boss, his life size statue stands proudly at the peak of this quaint long and hilly street of restaurants, boutiques, restaurants, furniture shops and informal street markets.
Otumfuo Sir Osei Tutu Agyemang Prempeh II is credited with ushering the Asante Kingdom into a Golden Age, after the independence of Ghana. The statue is right in front of Ecobank’s Mediterranean-style building.
Right next to Ecobank is the unmistakable Opoku Trading Supermarket with a fresh produce open-air market abutting it. Within the market, you will find the best quality tomatoes, yams, plantains, roasted peanuts, fresh fruits and vegetables.
Standing right across from Opoku Trading, are two important majestic monuments from the colonial era. One is a Clock Tower (no, not Kumasi’s Big Ben).
The other is a World War I Memorial, a military monument, dedicated to World War I veterans. The clock tower was erected in memory of the late Sir Donald Stewart, the first resident and chief commissioner of the Ashanti Region.
Moving down the street, to the left of the statue, we have the Electricity Corporation of Ghana (ECG) building. This is the same ECG that has become notorious for the frequent power outages rocking Ghana, even though they are only indirectly responsible for them.
Across from the ECG building are two white-clad British owned banks, Standard Charteredand Barclays Bank. These two structures reinforce the commercial commercial nature of Prempeh II Street.
The Barclays building is particularly attractive, and has something of a coastal feel that is seen more in Cape Coast than in Kumasi.
From here, we move into what I believe to be the most iconic section of Prempeh II Street. Throw in a few light-up signs and giant LED screens and we could have a real Times Square situation on our hands!
There are several places notable businesses here. First is Vic Baboo’s Café. This quaint little restaurant is very popular with tourists who visit Kumasi and not so much the locals, however. My favorite part of the building is the funky sign on it that says, Baboo Bazaar.
An important feature at this intersection is the newsstand, which makes a bold assertion in its name – National Best Newsstand. It’s a pretty confident claim. I don’t know about its national ranking, but it certainly is best in the city.
All major newspapers, as well as international magazines such as Rolling Stone, Ebony, and Oprah’s O Magazine are sold here. Not bad at all, for the little newsstand that could. Kojo Okyere has been running the newsstand for the past 10 years for his boss, Ato Kwamena Egyir. National Best Newsstand been around for about 20 years.
Right around the corner from the newsstand is the Adum Post Office Extension for those times when you need to use snail mail.
Across from the post office is the relatively new and imposing Agyaba House.
It’s not quite at skyscraper level yet, but it’s trying. It really is.
Before we leave this area, let’s check out Farooq and Fatau’s little cultural shop. They sell various kinds of Ghanaian and African handmade artifacts such as talking drums, other traditional drums, tribal masks, carved sculptures and jewelry.
There’s enough culture here to make an anthropologist swoon.
Leaving this area, we move down towards the ever popular Melcom shopping center, but along the way, there are a couple of buildings of architectural significance, many of them dating back to the 1920s.
Finally, we get to Melcom shopping center, which has been slowly expanding over the years as its popularity grows. Melcom is a one-stop shop retailing everything from provisions to furniture.
They have taken over most of this block, opening a new, more modern and upscale store right across from the original shop in the recently renovated Kumasihene House.
Adjacent to the Melcom stores are more colonial buildings that have managed to stay standing in the face of swift commercialization in Adum.
And that is all for now, folks. Prempeh II Street is a vivid representation of what characterizes Adum. In the course of taking the pictures, I was accosted by two police officers who initially tried to sound all big and scary, but before long telling them about this photowalk project, they were giving me suggestions on the best angles for photos. Just another day on Prempeh II Street. Adum is a fun and vibrant place where you can bargain on any item. So come along with a camera, a mind for adventure and a silver tongue.
Isaac Immanuel Opuni Frimpong Is The Founder Of Life In Kumasi, A Lifestyle Blog. He has a humorous way of capturing the lifestyle and quirks of Kumasi through his writings. Follow him on Facebook andTwitter .
A Note From The Editor, Korantemaa Larbi:
Kumasi is ready to take on new businesses and developments. It is a charming place brimming with life and presents a lot of business opportunities. In the spirit of preservation, conservation and good Architecture, let us do well to maintain the history and culture of our Ghanaian cities represented in their buildings and pause for a second before deciding to tear down a historic structure.