Ghana Local Customs

  • Ruut Extra
    Ruut Extra
    by Twan
  • Cemetery in Big Ada
    Cemetery in Big Ada
    by SanBa
  • Local Customs
    by grets

Ghana Local Customs

  • Using your right hand.......

    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...

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  • greetings

    In Ghana, especially in more rural areas, it is polite to greet anyone that you are going to talk to or sometimes just if you catch their eye, just a 'how is it?' (ghanaian english for 'how are you') or 'good morning' will do.One thing that I found quite shocking when I first arrived is that people will hiss to get your attention, but having tried...

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  • Flag Ghana

    Red, yellow and green are the Pan-African colors RED the color of blood that the people gave for their independenceYELLOW the color of the most important mineral of the country(gold)GREEN for the fertility of the countryBLACK for the people who died fighting for their liberty

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  • Give me...

    An annoying thing during a trip through Ghana can be the attitude of the Africans towards people from the West. The general idea in Africa is that as soon as you are white, you are extremely rich. Of course they are partly right: an average Ghanaian would never have the money to travel to another continent just to see the nice places there: in fact...

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  • Beat, kick, slap...

    A thing that I really had to get used to during my stay in Ghana, is the usage of violence everywhere. At home and at school, that always is a stick around that can be used when children don't listen. And both parents and teachers don't have too many patience with the kids, so the "cane" is used a lot normally. Children are beaten on their fingers,...

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  • Asking directions

    When you are looking for something in Ghana, or you are lost, be careful with asking the directions. The good thing is that everybody will be willing to help you with it, but that also is the risk. Because everybody is so extremely helpful, nobody will tell you that they don't know the direction. They will ask everybody to help you, they will just...

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  • Urinating

    Ghanaian people are not embarrassed about their toilet visiting at all. It is something that you can talk about without any problem and that is part of life. Children in the classroom just tell their teacher "Sir, I go urinate" and men do their thing anywhere, even in the middle or the citycentre.That is why you see a lot of signs "Do not urinate...

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  • White man

    The word you will probably hear the most during a stay in Ghana (when you are white) is "Obruni". Especially little children will call you like that all the time while they wait for you to reply, smile to them or wave.Obruni means "White man" or according to a story I heared it means "man for behind the horizon". White people still are a special...

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  • Right hand

    In Ghana, it is very impolite to use a left hand for a lot of things. This comes from a very simple thing. In a lot of moderate areas in the country, the people don't use toilet paper to wipe their behings, but their left hand. It is washed, but you can imagine that it stays the "unfresh" hand. Even though toilet paper is becoming normal nowadays,...

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  • Taking pictures

    Almost everywhere in Ghana you have to be very careful with taking pictures of the local people. It is not appreciated at all when you take a spontaneous picture of somebody.Taking pictures (or "snapping", like all Ghanaians call it) of children normally is no problem at all. They normally love it to be in front of the camera, especially when you...

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  • Shaking hands

    Ghanaian people are physical people: they like to meet people and touch them. Therefore, people will always shake hands with you when they meet you. In Ghana, you will find two ways of shaking hands:1) The most popular way, thay you see all over the country, is a handshake that really needs some practice to get it. A person shakes hands normally,...

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  • Smoking

    In Ghana, it is very, very cheap to smoke. For a package of 20 of the cheapest cigarettes you only pay about $ 0,30! These cheap ones are Tusker cigarettes. There are several other brands for sale, but don't expect to find any Marlboro or Camel.But: it is important to know that smoking is not socially excepted in Ghana. You hardly see people smoke...

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  • Signs of the tribes

    Especially in the north of Ghana, there are a lot of different tribes. When children are born in these tribes, wounds are made on their cheeks to indicate the group they belong to. Traditional medicines are rubbed in, which leaves a clear scar. Sometimes these symbols are one vertical line on both cheeks, sometimes more of these lines, but I've...

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  • Children's names

    The Akan people of Ghana, frequently name their children after the day of the week on which they were born. This includes the Ashanti people, and during our visit to the Cultural Centre in Kumasi, we were told of the various names and given the opportunity to purchase a cloth badge with our Akan name. I knew which day I was born on (Friday), but...

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  • Coffins

    It is an old custom in Ghana that when a rich merchant dies and was buried, his coffin would be shaped to represent the life he led when he was alive. Hence coffins would be made in the shape of cars, birds, fruits and vegetables, shoes and a host more interesting shapes. It beats being buried in any old plain wooden box I suppose. I wonder what...

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  • Courtesy, a way of life

    I was impressed by Ghanaian courtesy. Drivers stop for you to cross the street, people queue up, everyone says 'hello, how are you' to shop assistants and waiters. At the Ghalebon hotel, the first rule was 'Any breach of good manners is a breach of hotel regulations'. I hope to take this lesson home where everyone is much more brusque!

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  • Coiffure

    I love the different hairstyles available to fashion-conscious young black girls. If you think African girls are limited to tight curly hair, think again! Hair dressing salons would advertise the different designs on large posters outside their stalls. These are just a selection of the numerous different styles we saw throughout our travels there.

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  • Sacrifice

    The word sacrifice comes from an old English expression “to make sacred”, and sacrifice is part of everyday life in rural Ghana. Sacrifice is basically making an offering in the form of food, drink or an animal to appease the gods and is used in traditional religions all over the world. We saw evidence of chickens being sacrificed, as well as...

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  • Female Circumsicion

    Female circumcision, more popularly known as genital mutilation, involves the removal of part of the female genitalia. Sometimes all the genitalia is also removed. In Ghana, the most common form this takes is a procedure known as excision which include removal of the external female genitals to create an open wound. This is then stitched together...

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  • Greeting the village chief

    It is customary everywhere in rural Ghana to greet the chief and gain permission before entering the village. You cannot speak directly to the chief, so in order to speak to the chief, we would ask Noah to ask his translator who would ask the chief’s assistant who would ask the chief! Confused? You soon will be. In one of the villages we did not...

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  • Witchcraft

    Witchcraft really does exist in Africa. It is part of everyday life. Witchcraft is something that usually happens during a period of your life when you are experiencing problems and you need some extra strength. A few people are born with it, and may not even know that they are possessed by evil spirits. Others are born with the curse through...

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  • The Calabash

    The so called calabash container is named after the calabash tree. It is the fruit or gourd which is used to make the containers so widely used throughout Africa (and other parts of the world), and is one of the earliest cultivated trees in the world grown not for food but for utilities. The fruit is hollowed out and dried and it is used for...

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  • Waste not, want not

    The Ghanaians are masters at recycling. We think we are good in the West, but we are just playing at it compared with these people! Look at these sandals for instance, they are crafted out of used car tyres!

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  • Baby carriers

    In Ghana you never see mothers pushing their babies in pushchairs or prams like you do in Europe, they are carried on their mother’s back in a piece of cloth draped tightly around her waist, with just the baby’s head sticking out.

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  • Modern Day Slavery

    This is a very emotive subject and one which I hasten to add, we saw absolutely no evidence of whatsoever. Unfortunately, it does go on though. Quoting National Geographic: West Africa is one of the areas that are the most exploited by criminals who sell people into modern-day slavery. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), some...

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  • Wash day

    Running water is scarce in rural Ghana, so many people will go to the river to wash themselves and their clothes. Picture one shows ladies doing their laundry in a stream a few miles along the coast from Accra. Photo number two is of children having fun whilst also washing their bodies.Pictures three and four are of women washing their clothes in...

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  • Waste collection

    We saw these little carts carrying out waste collections in a couple of villages along the route, and found them really fascinating. What a great idea! Beats the large, cumbersome waste collection carts found in the west!

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  • African Handbags

    Women in nearly all the rural areas, as well as many urban cities, carry a huge bowl like this as their ‘handbag’. It can hold anything and everything – vegetables or meat bought in the market, water from the well, firewood, washing for the river ‘laundry’, good to be sold at the market or goods bought at the market. The options are endless.

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  • Scarifiation

    Many rural villagers will make distinguishing marks on their young children to show which ethnic group or village they belong to. These marks are made with a knife and are a permanent reminder of their cultural heritage and give them a sense of belonging as well as making it easy for others to see where they hail from.

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  • Electricity

    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...

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  • Street vendors

    Young entrepreneurs take advantage of any stop in the traffic, such as traffic lights, road works, police checks, border crossing, and they will bring their shop to you. Here at some road works outside Kumasi, we were able to stock up on water and some snacks. Items also usually available are newspapers, music cassettes, handkerchiefs, food stuffs,...

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  • The imprisonment of the slaves

    Once they reached the coast, men and women were separated in different dungeons and were kept imprisoned in darkness for up to six weeks. This would culminate in the slaves being bargained for and sold and subsequently processed through the Door of No Return to board the ships bound for the New World. Having spent a few minutes in the dungeons,...

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  • The march of the slaves

    Slaves were marched for days, weeks and even months from their villages, often in chains or shackles. They were fed as little food as the slave merchants could get away with, in order to keep them too weak to escape and were often beaten and had to contend with wild animals and disease. The middlemen would ride alongside, brandishing guns.

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  • Transatlantic slave trade

    With the coming of the Europeans, it was a different matter altogether. The transatlantic slave trade was started by the Portuguese in the latter part of the 15th century, sending captives to work on their new plantations in South America. The trade grew steadily with the cultivation of tobacco and the creation of many more plantations in the...

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  • Domestic African slave trade

    Domestic slavery existed in Africa way before the Europeans came and took advantage of this trade. Generally speaking, slavery is defined as a commodity or property, which is owned and exploited by another. In one form or another, it has existed in Africa (as well as in almost all human societies) since ancient times. Initially slaves were...

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  • Bathing attire

    Unlike Europeans, who go to the beach dressed in bikinis or swimming trunks, Ghanaians prefer to go swimming fully clothed. We were on Cape Coast on a Sunday, and the beach was full of youngsters having a great time in the warm water.

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  • Paying your respects

    Many Ghanaians (and West Africans in general) are animists and hence worship the earth (amongst others). Therefore, before you start drinking, you should always make an offering to the earth. Here I am seen pouring some of my water on the ground before starting to drink myself.

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  • Use your right hand only

    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,...

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  • Become an instant millionaire

    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...

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  • Masks

    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....

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  • Chairs

    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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  • Stools

    Stools are used for three different reasons in Ghana:CeremonialDomesticRitualA stool will add grandeur and power to its user, so has been used by kings for generations, as it is a seat from which power radiates to the subjects. “Else aprem – gwa do a Nsuro eteur” – “He who sits on a canon stool is not scared by a gun”Each king would have a new...

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  • Sensationalism

    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.

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  • Lizards

    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...

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  • Roadside local food

    Just some of the delicacies you can pick up by the road all fresk and liveThe snail is large enough to feed two peopleThe crabs are fresh water species

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