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Makola is a poem written by a Ghanaian poetess called Theresa Ennin. 

Makola as the title of this poem is a big and famous market place in Accra, the capital of Ghana where people buy and sell fruits, vegetables, meat and other typical market items and products.

What is the poem about?

The poem talks about the struggles and challenges that people in the market go through in their everyday lives to make to make a living.

Let’s first read the poem as written in the Cockcrow. After reading the poem, we will take each stanza and have a detailed analysis.



Head bent, rags all around the upside down pan picking her nose, shuffling her feet, oblivious to the bustle and the calls of the drivers’ mates.


This morning she quarrelled with the husband.

Why wouldn’t he understand that her work is very tedious and involving?

Why must it all be on his terms, at his convenience? “Move out of the way, move out, I say” shouts the cart pusher


None cares about his agitation The sweat runs down his face, tiny rivulets of disappointment and fear  They snake down and glide effortlessly into his dirty t-shirt


His tongue peeps out and licks the beads of sweat on his lip.                                                    That young girl with the thin arms balances a bowl of sachet water on her head


The runny-nose baby at her back is supported with a faded ATL cloth.  He holds in his hands a battered teddy with an eye missing.


The baby whimpers, she tries to soothe him by patting his leg. He refuses to be soothed and gives out a loud yell , ” Put him to the breast, ” one woman counsels.                                                  “I can’t,” she says, ” I have no breast milk.”


Let’s now look at the different stanzas and analyse the poem.


The first stanza makes mention of a female character in the market place. She obviously carries items in her pan for a living.

In the Ghanaian society, these women are often referred to as the ” Kayaye ” 

A Kayaye is a street porter who helps in carrying other people’s luggage for money.

This woman is in a very busy environment but she seems to ignore all the noise and distractions around her.

She has an, “I don’t care” attitude because in spite of the calls of the drivers’ mates, she is picking her nose and shuffling her feet.


The second stanza tells the reason for the behaviour of the woman in the first stanza.

The woman is going through a marital problem which has caused a quarrel between herself and her husband.

Her husband does not appreciate the fact that her work is very tedious and involving.

The stanza also shows the bossy nature of her husband as he seems not to take his wife’s well-being into consideration and wants every decision to be on his terms. 

This is very typical of most African homes where the husband’s words and opinions are final with less or no consideration on the part of the woman.

The last sentence introduces us to the Cart Pusher as he shouts “move out of the way”,move out”


 The cart pusher uses a lot of strength to move his cart along.

He finds himself in an overcrowded environment and thus, has to shout at people to move out of the way as they become an obstacle to his movement.

Nobody seems to care about the struggles and difficulties he is going through.

He Sweats a lot just to make a living but he’s still not satisfied with his work since he has feelings of fear and disappointment towards his work.

 Why does he fear? Perhaps he is aware of the dangers of his line of work.

He could easily hit someone and get himself into trouble.

His work is unpredictable and full of uncertainty.

Why is he disappointed? His dream work is definitely not cart pushing but he has to do it anyway to survive.

He moves around very heavy objects and equipments but earns very little.


This stanza shows again the tiresome nature of the cart pushing work.

He sweats a lot in his dirty t- shirt and doesn’t even have a handkerchief to clean the sweat off his face.

He therefore takes out his tongue to lick the beads of sweat on his lips.

We are then introduced to a young girl who balances a bowl of sachet water on her head.

The girl is described to have thin arms which means she’s not gaining much weight due to obviously economic hardship.


There’s a runny-nose baby at the back of the young girl supported with a faded cloth.

This shows a picture of the frustrations teenage mothers go through to survive in the harsh conditions in the market.

The “faded ATL cloth” shows the evidence of poverty and lack.

Even the playing object which the child is holding is not in a good condition as it has an eye missing.

Girls in this condition are forced to fend for themselves and their children so that they don’t become beggars.


To add more troubles to this girl’s condition, the baby at her back whimpers.

She tries to calm him down but it doesn’t work as he gives out a loud cry.

The loud cry gets the attention of a woman who advices the young girl to give him some breast milk.

The young girl replies that, she has no breast milk.

This shows the malnourished nature of the teenager due to her inability to provide breast milk for her child.


1. The struggles and frustrations that people go through in their everyday lives to make a living.

2. The difficulties people go through behind the scenes at their work places and how it affects  their personal lives.

3. The willingness of people to go to the extra mile when their survival is at stake.


The poem has no definite structure or form as it has uneven lines and stanzas. The poem makes mention of different persons in the market and tells short stories about them.


The tone is that of fear, frustration, uncaring attitude, disappointment and worry.



  • Move out, move out       


  • He held in his hands 


  • Shuffling her feet


  • Sweat runs down his face 


  • Tiny rivulets of fear and     disappointment   


Q1.  How many characters were talked about in the poem? 

ANS: Six characters

Q2. Why can’t the young girl breastfeed her Baby?

ANS: Because she has no breast milk

Q3. What is the faded ATL cloth used for?

ANS: It is used to support the baby at the back of the young girl.

Q4. How was the little girl trying to soothe her baby?

ANS: by patting his leg

Q5. When did the woman quarrel with her husband ?
ANS: That morning

Q6. Who said put him to the breast and why?

ANS: A concerned woman. Because the baby was yelling loudly

Q7. How does the cart pusher find his way in an over crowded environment?

ANS: By yelling at people to move out of the way

Q8. What literary device is in, “beads of sweat”?
ANS: Metaphor

Q9. Who wants everything to be on his terms and at his convenience?

ANS: The street porter’s husband

Q10. What is the baby on the young girl’s back holding?

ANS: A battered teddy bear with an eye missing










George is interested in self-education, knowledge building and self expression through writing!

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Fiaxo Mary Yayra

    This is very helpful I have learnt a lot

  2. Anonymous

    Literally device for the statement “I can’t, she says,I have no breast milk”.