May 6, 2010

Culture for beginners in Ghana

For those just about to arrive in Ghana, and those treading the waters for the first time right now, you might enjoy learning the basics of Ghanaian culture with this short story:


Ghanaians will always take at least five minutes inquiring about each other's family, work and health before getting down to business. No matter how pressing the matter at hand, priority is placed on the other person and the family, and there is an obligation to ask after the well being of the others’ family before anything else.

When traveling, if help is needed it is polite to first at least inquire “How are you?” to whomever you meet before asking for the help.

Shaking Hands


Like many international cultures, shaking is done exclusively with right hands. In Ghana there is an addition to this. In informal or friendly situations the middle fingers are clicked together to make a sharp “snapping” sound. In formal work situations or when meeting elders the snap is left out.

No left hands

Also, like many international cultures, never use the left hand for anything of significance. It's considered dirty. Do not use the left hand to eat--Ghanaians eat with their right hand--to handle money, to wave, to shake, or in any intereaction with other people.

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