The Ghanaian

The Ghanaian is a lover of fun in any form and shows her sense of humor at the least “provocation”. She is a born dancer and will dance at the least opportunity. Ghanaian towns and cities are therefore full of music. She is friendly and so generous that she is often affronted when a visitor refuses her gifts. Despite her generosity, she does not like it when visitors criticize her country whatever the case may be and feels herself somehow disgraced even if she recognizes the truth in the criticism. She would like to do the criticism herself.

Akwaaba” – meaning ‘Welcome’. This is a word you will hear often in Ghana. Whereas the art of greeting is quite ritualized in other parts of Africa, it is not as complicated in Ghana. Shaking hands is the traditional way of either saying hello or greeting friends, relatives or strangers. It may be followed by a few inquiries about the health of other family members but it depends on the degree of familiarity. Greeting has a very high social importance in Ghana and in Africa generally and it is a blunder not to greet. Not greeting always produces a negative reaction. Whilst in Ghana, get into the habit of greeting people you encounter – even if casually. It may be the key to many friendships. The most hard-faced pedestrian will suddenly become friendly immediately he or she is greeted. The normal practice is that the one who moves towards someone standing or sitting usually greets first. This means that it is the tourist who will often have to begin. It is also his best chance. It is important not to forget that a handshake is always proffered with the right hand. The left hand always symbolizes impoliteness.

If you visit a Ghanaian home, you will be offered a seat after the initial pleasantries. After taking a seat, the lady of the house or her child or house help will appear with glass of water. This is traditional and means you are welcome. The offer to drink has nothing to do with thirst and it is bad taste to refuse it, since refusal means distrust. If you are not thirsty, just nip at the glass as a sign of respect to the host and that will be alright.

By custom, the host opens the conversation by asking the visitor to relate briefly what the purpose of the visit is. The host then follows with a short account of what happened lately with his or her household. Immediately he finishes he stands up once again to formally wish the visitor a hearty welcome with a handshake, whilst repeating the words akwaaba, akwaaba.


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The Ghanaian
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