As with all other countries and cultures, there are always some things that might feel normal for the people native to the country but that have a different effect on strangers such a myself, a visitor from Benin. Here goes. These are some aspects of the Ghanaian culture that strangers would see as weird, or at least slightly shocking.
Twi Is More Spoken Than English
Coming to Ghana was great for me! I could picture new experiences, new people and a new mindset. But getting here, the first thing that made an impression on me was the language. Ghanaians tend to speak one of their local languages (Twi) more than English, which was weird to me because in most French countries we prioritize speaking French than our local languages. Anywhere I go here, to people first interact in Twi and I always have to say I don’t speak Twi which always leads to the question, “Are you Ghanaian?” Obviously my answer is “No, can we talk in English, please?”
Stress On Using “Please”
One thing I could say was really weird was the insistence on “please” in ‘Twi’ as well as ‘English’.
Indeed, where I come from we do respect others like older people we use the ‘vous’ which is ‘you’ for an adult and ‘s’il vous/te plaît’ which is please to be respectful. In Ghana, please is used at the end of everything. For example, someone asks ‘ɛti sɛn’ meaning ‘how are you,’ the responder says ‘mepa wo kyɛw ɛyɛ’ meaning please I’m good. Umm “what’s the please for here?” At a point, I have to ask friends not to use please with me that much. I mean ‘yes’ is fine not ‘yes please.’ We are mates, let’s go easy on each other here.
Though, I will say it is great Ghanaians insert respect in their habits, nevertheless, too much of it removes its essence.
The Preaching System
Well, here’s another one of the odd things. #nohardfeelings.
Preachers on road sides and buses aren’t seen in French countries, and even if they are, we don’t come across them enough for it to be significant. One of the first thing I noticed in Ghana was indeed the outdoor preaching which usually ends in giving money as a guarantee of God’s blessings.
True, it’s nice to be reminded that God’s love is everlasting. But, many have made it their personal business on streets, buses and even churches. In my own experience, I was taking the bus off Accra and there was a guy sitting by me. He kept looking at me and started a conversation by saying he was a pastor at church … I was like okay, good.
He continued, asking me to come to his church sometimes, talking about the Bible, God and all. I nodded and smiled. Getting to our last stop, Accra station, I hurried out of the bus and he did something weird by grabbing my hand, saying he’s had a vision about me. Lmao. I was like whaaat. He continued and was like, “Yeah, I just saw something about your life.”
He asked for my details and when I was available to come to him because according to him, church was on Sunday (and too far away to fix the problem). I had to go to him personally so we pray together. I was annoyed and just walked away still hurrying; I do not trust humans.
When it comes to food, we can agree that each culture is weird with their foods.
Ghana has Kenkey and waakye which are weird in their own ways but their time of consumption is especially mind blowing. Other countries, or where I come from, enjoy tea, coffee, milo, sandwiches or porridge for breakfast.
Ghana showed me kenkey, hard in touch and heavy in look; and Waakye eaten with salad (hahahaha! #nooffense). That literally blew my mind and I still can’t figure how they enjoy waakye and salad. These foods are loved by Ghanaians and eaten in the morning … Um, morning? Yes, morning. It’s a weird and fun experience.
Ps: Feel free to try it out, opinions are relative.
My first and most shocking experience regarding the weather was when I had just come into the country. It was around October and it was hella hot so I was expecting the harmattan period from December to ease the hot temperatures and allow me to wear my cute hoodies.
The harmattan came on only one day and that day was still hot. How crazy! And it kept being the same; everyday hot sun, one harmattan day and let’s not get started with the rain which literally has no power over the sun. The country is said to be more exposed to the sun, and with time I got used to it. On the plus side good sun means great quality pictures.
Ghana is a must visit country that cares about its citizens and provides varieties of entertainment. Still, it presents some odd facts; But just as any other thing, adapting and enjoying the best you can is key.