Wednesday, 13 June 2012

50 Things I learned in Ghana

During my month-long stay here in Ghana, there are a lot of things that I have learned.  Here is a list of 50 of them.

1.       Awkwaaba means Welcome
2.       Cars can drive over almost anything, so long as they are driven slowly.  Broken concrete bricks, deep potholes, open gutters, and curbs. 
3.       Pedestrians do not have the right of way in Ghana.  Cars can and will hit you if you are not careful.
4.       Taxi drivers and craftsmen charge Obrunis lots of money because they are Obrunis.
5.       Ghanaians love their food spicy. 
6.       Ghanaians also love chicken and rice.
7.       You can get a sunburn in Ghana, even if you don’t see your shadow and it is completely overcast. 
8.       Red red is made with beans and rice and fried plantains.  If there are no plantains, it is not red red.
9.       “To flash someone” in Ghana means something entirely different than in the U.S.  To flash someone means you call their phone just long enough for your number to appear on your phone, and then hang up.  As Henry put it, “we flash a lot, especially the women.”   Once the woman flashes a man, the man will usually call them back so that the woman doesn’t have to pay for the phone call.  As Daniel put it, “flash me na me were frɛ” or “flash me and I will call.”  We told them that if they were to say this in the U.S., they may get some interesting looks. 
10.   Ghanaians like to barter for their prices.
11.   Do not eat with your left hand. 
12.   Lizards can climb up through bathroom drains and enter your room.
13.   Ghanaians like Coca-Cola as much as the next American.
14.   Power will often go out in Ghana for no reason, and for several hours.
15.   There are church services on Sundays all throughout the day. 
16.   Ghanaians don’t really like to plan a time to hangout.  Setting up a date to do something outside of work is a bit tricky. 
17.   Ghanaians love Facebook.
18.   Ghanaians also love having their picture taken.
19.   “Bra” means “come,” and “bra ha” means “come here”
20.   Littering is, unfortunately, common.
21.   Little kids will try and pickpocket you with their tiny little hands.  They almost always ask for money.  Some little kids are just happy to hold an obruni’s hand for a minute. 
22.   Permethrin is your friend.
23.   Beef is uncommon and difficult to find.
24.   There is no hot water, unless it is boiled. 
25.   Do not drink from the taps.  Only buy bottled water.
26.   It is not uncommon for most Ghanaians to eat all of their food with just their hands.
27.   If you approach any Ghanaian, it is always proper to greet them with their name, and exchange a few courtesies such as how you are and how is your day, before discussing business. 
28.   Obruni is an affectionate term for white person or foreigner.  Ghanaians love obrunis, especially the little kids.
29.   A lot of small businesses (or individually owned market shops) almost always have names such as God’s Time is the Best General Goods or Jesus Saves Fruit Market.  It is also common for taxis to have God’s love or other such proclamations on the rear-window. 
30.   A lot of time there is no toilet paper in restrooms (or washrooms or loos).
31.   Ghanaians are not afraid to ask any question.  They will ask questions that most Americans may find improper to ask on a first meeting, such as “Do you believe in God?” or “Why aren’t you married?”  or any question relating to politics and ethics and your view and stance on them.  It is almost refreshing in a way, but for the first couple times it will catch you off-guard.  They also respect your opinions and do not get mad if viewpoints differ from their own. 
32.   80-90 F and 89% humidity?  No sweat.  It grows on you after a while. 
33.   Chickens and goats roam through Ghana on their own.  No one knows whose chicken that is.
34.   Cow skin is the best part of eating beef….supposedly.
35.   Traffic in Accra Central is worse than traffic probably anywhere in the U.S., because it is so hot, and there is no air conditioning in cars.
36.   Meetings never start on time in Ghana. 
37.   The people who stand in the streets and swarm your car when the light turns red because they want you to buy something they are trying to sell are called Hawkers. 
38.   Keep in the right lane except to pass= Inner lane for overtaking. 
39.   Lizards are like little magicians; you don’t know how they get into your bathroom, and you can watch them all you want, but the second you look away, they seem to vanish.  It’s gross.
40.   People can relieve themselves almost anywhere outside. 
41.   Ghanaians are very nice and welcoming to foreigners.
42.   Tro-tros are scary van rides crammed full of people.  But they are cheap.
43.   When Ghanaian’s propose to someone to get married, usually the engagement is on Friday, and the wedding on Saturday.  The ring isn’t exchanged until the wedding. 
44.   You do not chew fufu or banku. 
45.   The red clay dust gets into everything, no matter how hard you try to seal things up.
46.   They like to keep their keys in the door locks. 
47.   Car horns get used here a lot.  People like to honk their horns at everything, and at nothing.
48.   Saturday is market day and tro-tros are used to transport food from one part of the country to another.
49.   Mah krow means goodbye.
50.   No matter how much you like visiting another country, there really is no place like home. 


  1. Haha your right but I must say I haven't experienced curtain things you mentioned all though I live in GH like the lizard coming out of the drain lol

  2. Very interesting revelations about Ghana.I must admit that some of them are quite true but others are over exaggerated.

  3. Hi Stacy, this is really hillarious! I would however agree with Daniel that whilst some are true, a few are exaggerated or do not reflect general trends.
    #23: Beef is really common, unfortunately in certain circles it is known as 'cow meat', and beef restricted to salted beef.
    #35: Most cars in Accra are air-conditioned, however, they are not accessible to the public. Since public facilities do not provide the comforts needed in life, most Ghanaians learnt to provide these for themselves loooong ago. :-))! Link up next time you visit. Cheers

  4. I learned that "Osepia" means "Get out and push"!! Thanks for this list it was a fun trip down memory lane for this aberrewa poso poso (old lady)!