Nana is a kind of nobiliar title you give to the chief of a village.
Ghana has still a traditional organisation in the villages: there is no ellected mayor and elected municipal advisors. There is just a chief, guardian of the traditions and administrating wisely the destiny of the village.
The chief is chosen by the Queen mother. Nowadays, it is someone who is well educated. In big villages, you have several chiefs for the different activities.
When you enter a village, whatever you want to do, you have to go and greet the chief. If you just want to visit the village, ask him for permission and for permission of taking pictures.
If you want something more, bring him a present. The best is a bottle of alcohol that he will open in front of you. He will pour some alcohol on the soil as a present to the Ancients and to the Spirits of the village.
When this ritual is done, you can go. Don't forget to see him before leaving.
Ghanaians do everything with their rights hand: eating, touching food, giving, receiving, shaking hands, even haling a cab. Anything you can think of - right hand!
The left hand is traditionally used for "dirty things" and it is considered very bad for to use the left hand. (Ghanaians would beat their children for this, for example). If you can't use your right hand for some reason, just say "sorry for using the left"
Ghanaians do make allowance for visitors who don't know the customs, but making the effort will be really appreciated.
If in doubt, use, the right!
As a former British colony, Ghana kept the tradition of uniform in schools.
The Government schools oblige to wear an orange and brown uniform.
Richer people can send their kids to private schools with better professors.
As sometimes Government is late to pay teachers, they racket children: if they want to attend classes, they have to pay.
All schools charge school fees, school in mandatory up to 15 yo, but they also have to pay the school fees, and it is sometimes difficult
Typical Ghanaians Shake hands a lot. When they first meet people, to congratulate or sometimes, just to say "thank you" for a present of a gesture.
Always offer your right hand; and if you enter a room full of people, (whether you've met them all or not) start from the right and work your way left, shaking hands with everyone.
This is how it's done in Ghana!
You cannot find many doctors and hospitals with European or American standards.
It means that if you have something serious, you better go to back directly to your country.
A friend of mine had a accident, a deep cut in the leg. The doctor wanted to cut the leg. We went to another hospital where they agreed to stich the cut.
The day after, he had to go to France because the cut was not disinfected and it was gangrened.
There some more serious hospitals, NYAHO in Airport residential in Accra, and Korle Bu,
37 Military hospital in not bad and has good doctors.
The problem is that Ghanaians have to study in UK or USA, it is very expensive and it takes them 20 years or more to become a doctor. So, when they come back, they are more eager to get a return on investment as fast as possible than to save life.
Akwaaba is Akan (the collective name for Central Region ans Ashanti languages) for "welcome".
When you first arrive people will greet you with "Awaaba". BUT, say go go out for the day and return, your host will still say AKwaaba. Why? because it Literally means "you've gone and come back"!
So we use it in both situations! And it's always meant warmly.
Be aware, when interacting with the local people; be conscious of using only your right hand. Hand over money with your right hand, eat only with your right hand, and if you forget and use your left in an interaction, apologize and smile. A lot of people think that somehow this is a Muslim custom, but that is simply not so. In many countries where sanitation is not what you are used to, the left hand is used for self cleaning. Although conditions in Ghana have greatly improved regarding personal sanitation, the custom will remain for a long time. If you are a leftie, double your awareness.
Also be aware of the fact, that although you may not consider yourself as being super rich, by your local standard, - just the fact that you are able to visit another country like Ghana, - just to see what it is like, that makes you super rich in the eyes of the local folks there. Instead of getting annoyed at the sometimes direct requests for money, on the street, try to walk a mile in their shoes, and understand how rich you look to them.
You might as well make friends with these cute little creatures as soon as you arrive in Ghana, as they are to be found everywhere. Don't be surprised if you find one in your bathroom or bedroom, the restaurant or the bar. They are totally harmless, in fact they eat insects, so you should be grateful they are around. There are many varieties of lizards, from the almost colourless and transparent house gecko, to the beuatifully colourful agame lizard.
It seems that the Ghanian media, as its counterparts all over the world, no doubt, has its fair share of sensationalism, as these newspaper headlines suggest. We found all these in a single newspaper in the hotel reception in Accra. Gossip seems to be a big seller of newspapers worldwide.
In the south Women waer the Slit (long stright skirt) and Kaba (blouse).
the styles of the slit and kaba change with fashim. One year, it's slightly flared, one year it's very straight with a long spit, sometimes it has some pleats on one side.
The same goes for the Kaba: of trhe shoulder, big sleaves, understated sleaves, tight fit, loose fit. Whatever's in this season!
Ghanaians also like to adapt styles from other West African countries like the Nigerian "Ase Oke" or Lace oufitts.
You could call it a sartorial meting pot!
In a lot of places, electricity is ‘optional’. Many better establishments have their own generators, which is very helpful, as the power supply is not always reliable. There are frequent outages, and often surges and dips in the electricity supply.
Sockets are three pin type, either the traditional Ghanaian style or the more modern British.
As you can see from picture two, the health and safety standards are not the same as back home.
The local currency in Ghana is the Cedi, at the time we were there, the exchange rate was about 950 Cedi to the US Dollar. This means that if you change $400 as we did, you become instant millionaires. The largest denomination is 10,000 Cedi (just over a dollar), so you will end up carrying wads and wads of notes!
There is a distinct lack of small change throughout the country, so hold on to any small denomination that you can find, for those small purchases.
The name ‘Cedi’ is derived from the local name for the cowrie shell, “cede”. Cowrie shells have been widely used as currency throughout West Africa.
Until the 15th century, when cowrie shells were introduced from the Maldives and Zanzibar, bartering was the way business was conducted in the area. In the 17th and early 18th century, iron and gold dust was used as the currency, until 1796, when the West Africa Pound was introduced. In 1958 the currency changed to the Ghana Pounds, and the current Cedi was introduced in 1965. The Cedi is divided into 100 Pesewa.
In African spirituality, the mask is a bearer of sacred force, not only for the wearer, but also for those who witness its dance. Masks can be either a representation of a spirit, or its actual reincarnation. Shapes and styles of masks vary considerably, as initiation rites, funerals, rituals and secret societies each have their specific masks.
Masks are usually carved by men and used by men too in the dances. The mask doesn’t achieve its powers until its first public performance with the appropriate ritual. A mask will not be discarded without special precaution or ritual even when its powers are considered annulled through deterioration or failure. The powers and spirits are often then transferred to another mask.
Food is usually eaten with your hands – that is, your right hand only, as your left hand is considered ‘dirty’ (being used for ‘other things’). In better restaurants you will be presented with a bowl with disinfected water for washing your hand and another bowl of fresh water for rinsing.
Eating with your right hand only takes a bit of practice, but once you are used to it, it is not that hard. If you are tempted to use your other hand, try sitting on it until you become good at it.
The left hand is also considered unethical to use for pointing with, giving gifts with or touching people with.
Chairs of State, unlike stools, do not have any spiritual significance and were more a symbol of prestige. Every chief usually had a few, depending on how wealthy he was.
The chairs are usually called “Asipim”, meaning “I stand firm”, alluding to the stability of chieftaincy. Victorian chairs were given by the British to select chiefs.
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