In 2001 I came to Ghana for the first time as a 20-year-old. I had saved very hard, bought half a wardrobe, arranged the visa and there I went! I had gone through the practical Ghana preparation, otherwise I could not start the journey. But otherwise I had hardly read anything about Ghana and went on a journey as green as grass.
In the meantime, we have entered an era where we can look for everything immediately. Google is our best friend. 20 years ago, that was something else. But I also thought that I could experience Ghana fully if I were to be open-minded. That I could experience everything more intensely. It was intense! But in addition, it caused ignorance and sometimes difficult situations.
I would like to share my Ghana knowledge with you!
In the meantime, I have made up for that ignorance. Over the past 20 years I have learned a lot with trial and error and I like to tell you about it. In this blog I share 5 Ghana facts that help you prepare your Ghana very well.
In Ghana, the left hand is for ‘dirty’ things
Fortunately, the organization, with which I first came to Ghana for volunteering, offered an introduction. One of the things that was first told was that you eat, indicate things and do things with the right. Also pointing, greetings and waving all goes with right.
The left hand is used for dirty things like wiping your bibs. If you really need to use your left hand to tackle something, say, “Excuse me for left”.
In my years in Ghana, I have seen considerable discussions, including from Ghanaians among themselves, when this rule of conduct was not observed.
The old and new currencies (Cedis) are popularly used interchangeably in Ghana
Imagine you go to the market and you want to buy a piece of pure sheabutter….The lady says okay, that’s 20. And you think 20??? That’s quite a lot for such a small piece, but oh well it’s a pure product and I spend my money on the local market so let me do it. Wouldn’t it have been helpful if you knew that in Ghana they adjusted the currency in 2007 (4 zeros off!!) but that many people still count in the old currency. So the 20 that the lady is talking about is twenty thousand, or 2 Ghana Cedis…Bargain, right? Pure sheabutter for 30 Eurocents!?
When you want to buy something and you don’t understand how much something really costs, feel free to ask. To prevent the seller from using the old values, you can ask: “Please, how much is it in Ghana Cedis?” It
‘s still very confusing. I was just asking Lydia, my colleague at Moon&Star guesthouse, how much something costs. She replied: ‘170’. I looked I think somehow dazed or surprised and she corrected herself quickly in 17 Cedis.
Some compliments are a veiled question
I’m one of those people who quickly calls out when I like or like something. During my first time in Ghana I regularly said things like: “What a nice slippers” or “I like your beautiful dress!”. When it came to smaller things like a bracelet, some people gave it directly to me after such a comment. To which I gave it back and explained that I liked it but didn’t want to have it.
My compliments sometimes also resulted in gifts. For example, I got a pair of slippers with no obvious reason. That was a reason to find out what actually happened. A friend explained that my direct compliments were taken as: I like it and I want it.
A better compliment, or a compliment without confusion is: “You look so beautiful!”. If you want to have the same kind of slippers, you can just ask where someone bought them and you can also ask about the price in Ghana.
Ghana is noisy
When I lived with a host family in the village there was no minute’s silence, not during the day, but also not in the night. During the day and in the evening there were always radios on, people talking, arguing, cooking sounds, in short sounds of everyday life. That day started between 4 and 5 o’clock in the morning, at which time my neighbors started sweeping. Around 6:30 a.m., a radio was hung on a nail above my window that chattered all day even though other neighbors were also playing their radio.
Around 9:00 p.m., everyone went to bed, except for the neighbor in the next house. He then started playing 4 songs by Bob Marley until 3 a.m. Yes really, the same 4 songs from Bob Marley on repeat! At midnight the lady who lived in the room next to me always went on the phone, because that could be free in the night. Long live MTN, the provider!
Fortunately, there is not much noise at the guesthouse, but it is also no longer the oasis of calm that it was 9 years ago. The neighbors have cocks, at regular intervals we can hear the announcements from the village. We can hear the school bell and on Sunday we hear the church. The best thing you can do when you come to Ghana is set your mind to sound and maybe bring earplugs for the night.
English is the official language in Ghana, but not the language of choice
When I first came to Ghana I thought I had to polish my English and learn to be less shy. After all, the language in Ghana is English. What a mistake that was! Yes, the official language is English, but the language depends on the area you are in. I was in Ashanti, where people speak Twi. And in some places there is very little English spoken.
What happened regularly was that people told me a whole story in the Twi and that story ended by default with why. And when I didn’t understand, the story came again, a little harder, again followed by a why. And sometimes after a whole day of hearing “why why why” I was really tired of it in the evening..
It took me a long time to figure out that why was actually wai and means something like ‘Right?’. In other words, people asked for confirmation….. Another Ghana thing I would have liked to have known in advance.
I’d love to help you prepare for your Ghana trip!
As a Ghana coach I am happy to help you on your way in Ghana. But did you know that I can also help you with an effective Ghana preparation? I have long since stopped believe that you can experience the best and most intensely when you come to Ghana uninhibited. But where do you start preparing? Very simple, you start here.
I have bundled my 20 years of Ghana knowledge and experience and created a valuable workbook that will help you prepare your Ghana adventure in an effective way! You can learn and enjoy from the mistakes I’ve made, from my blunders. I provide information about the practical preparation such as visa applications, what do you take and do not take to Ghana and what vaccinations do you need. I’ll tell you about food in Ghana and about equality. As you may have noticed, it’s a workbook, it contains assignments and quiz questions that you can use.
Your investment for an effective Ghana preparation
The ‘Everything you need to know before travelling to Ghana’ workbook costs €17.50.
Would you like to receive personal online coaching in addition? This means that you will have 2 online appointments of up to an hour with me. In addition, you will have the opportunity to ask as many questions as necessary for a month. The total investment for this is €47.50
With your order you will receive a free night’s stay with breakfast at Moon&Star guesthouse for 2 people. The value of this bonus is €25,00
Would you like to receive personal online coaching in addition to the book? Guaranteed the most effective Ghana preparation available! This means that you have 2 online appointments of up to an hour with me. In addition, you will have the opportunity to ask as many questions as necessary for a month. The total investment is €47.50
What a great E-book you’ve made! Enthusiastically and written with a lot of love for Ghana and because of the beautiful layout and pictures it also looks very attractive.Aletta
It’s beautiful. I’m really impressed. The colors, the pictures, the quiz, …. PerfectGriet
How nice!!!! I’m really excited about it. You notice it comes from your heart.Hannah
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