Did you know that Agbogbloshie derives its name from a River Shrine? Did you also know Agbogbloshie was originally Old Fadama? In the 1960s, Agbogbloshie was a wetland. And at one point, it was an industrial enclave during Dr. Kwame Nkrumah’s regime. It was surrounded by the Agbogblo River which is the domain of a deity for the Agbogbloshie community. This Agbogblo River flows into the Korle Lagoon of the Odaw River and then into the Atlantic Ocean. Agbogbloshie is a Ga word which literally means beneath the Agbogblo-which is the river.
As the city of Accra expanded, a ghetto grew – referred to as Sodom and Gomorrah, a name borne out of the frequent spate of crime and harsh living conditions there. The eighties saw the area turned into a place of shelter for refugees fleeing the Kokomba and Nanumba war. Then in the early 90s, a handful of traders were moved from the Public Works Department (PWD), area in the Central Business District of Accra, and settled close to the Agbogblo Rivier.
Thus the market was named Agbogbloshie. Although Agbogbloshie was originally known as Old Fadama, the name of the Agbogbloshie market, which sprung up in the early 90s made this community very popular. With time, the original name of the town faded out and the community is now referred to as Agbogbloshie.
Agbogbloshie is said to be located in the center of Accra. This is the Agbogblo River which is a domain of a deity for the Agbogbloshie community. The shrine for this river, known as the Bonte Akoshia is housed at the residence of the first Gbese Mants3 Nii Ayibonte at Ayalolo in Accra. Every year, customary rites are performed on this River prior to the celebration of Homowo.
Agbogbloshie was well known for its trade in onions but then, virtually in the twinkling of an eye, it suddenly turned into a digital dumping ground. In the ensuing years, the Korle Lagoon has become one of the most polluted bodies of water on earth with levels of toxins over a hundred times the acceptable amount.
The story of Agbogbloshie is different today. The Agbogbloshie market is no more as all the traders and metal scrap dealers have all been relocated to Adjen Kotoku. What remains as a reminder of its existence once upon a time, is the vast land – which many hope and fervently pray, will be allowed to breathe again. The Relocation is part of the Greater Accra Regional Minister MrHenry Quartey’s ambition to ‘Make Accra Work” by putting an end to trading on streets and pavements in the national capital. All structures in that enclave have subsequently been demolished.