We have a new site www.g-lish.org where you can read all articles from This is Ghana in a much more organised fashion. Read Godwin talks: 6 Ghanaian Obsessions there.
I have created a new column called "Godwin talks" to provide a Ghanaian point-of-view on Ghanaian issues. Godwin will be sharing his thoughts on all sorts of topics from cross-cultural relationships, to life as a young Ghanaian, to positive and negative aspects of culture in Ghana.
So, in Godwin's words, here are the top 6 things that Ghanaians obsess over. (Feel free to add your comments--whether you agree or disagree!)
Number 1. Football (aka. soccer): Ghanaians will abandon everything—including dates with girlfriends or boyfriends and important work appointments—to watch a football match, especially if it’s the national team: The Blackstars. Almost every political speech contains a football analogy. When the President did his appointment of ministers, there was a feeling within the NDC that certain bigwigs whom people were expecting to be nominated for ministerial appointments were being excluded. In an attempt to explain the decision, Presidential spokesperson, Mahama Ayariga, said that President Mills, as the coach of team Ghana, decides “which player plays at what time. And since this is the first half, they should give the President leeway to bring the set of players he wants to play this first half.” He said that it’s possible that those who others think should be appointed in the first half will come in the second half. “The game has just begun.” So, I have to say next…
2. Politics: You find Ghanaians passionately discussing politics all day and night long—from the family sitting rooms to trotro stations and on trotro buses.
3. Funerals: When someone is alive and needs assistance to buy food, no family or friends come to help, but when the person dies the same people will find money to organize a grand funeral for the person. It might sound negative, but that’s the truth, to the extent that we have a booming business in funeral contractors. But these people take time from their work and also spend their life savings on funerals. How are we, as a nation, to develop if our people spend everything they have on funerals?
4. Music: Every Ghanaian young and old, literate or illiterate, loves music. You will find Ghanaians jumping to the least sound that resembles music—in the street to the church or even funerals, which are supposed to be solemn.
5. Religion: Almost every Ghanaian belongs to the three main religions in Ghana: Christianity, Islam and traditional religions. Ghanaians are passionate about their individual faiths. On Sundays you have Christians flocking to church in their numbers and on Fridays you have Muslims flocking to the Mosque even during work hours to observe Friday prayers. For the traditional believers, who are mostly in rural areas, every now and then they perform ritual activities especially during festive periods and funerals. We clearly understand that there is a freedom of worship where even in the family you could have three family members belonging to the three different religions. We haven’t reached that fanaticism level where the father will say, “You are either a Muslim or an Infidel”, with no middle ground. No, you have parents being Muslims and the children being Christians. Or one brother being Muslim and admiring his Christian pastor brother for succeeding. We have almost no religious conflict in Ghana.
6. Patriotism: Ghanaians are very patriotic in the sense that we ourselves first as Ghanaians before anything else—I think this is because Kwame Nkrumah united Ghana when he became the first President. He himself was Nzema but he saw himself as Ghanaian and he was able to rally everyone as Ghanaians. Though we come from different ethnic groups, the word “Ghana” is something we are easily identified with, so our tribal groups are less important when it comes to national issues. We have this common Ghanaian expression: “We are first and foremost Ghanaian, then Ashantis and Fraras, and so on, and then Christian or Muslim...” So we see our affiliation to various ethnic groups or religious associations and political parties as an expression of that “Ghanaianness”—celebrating the diversity of the Ghanaian society—which is a reflection of who a Ghanaian is.
Godwin is the Programmes Director of Young People We Care—www.ypwc.org—and a passionate believer that we can change our circumstances if we believe we can. He grew up in Bolgatanga and Bawku—the poorest regions and towns in Ghana—to illiterate parents who believed he deserved the education that they were denied. He completed his studies in population at the University of Cape Coast. His obsession is tea drinking. Oh, and football and politics and music and, fortunately, not funerals.
You can download a sample of our Travel guide to Ghana (good for expats too) at www.g-lish.org/ghanaguide.