Ghana Quirks

After living in Ghana for a little while, I have started to pick up on many of the little features that makes Ghana so special. I have also learned about a lot of things that make no sense. I thought I would share them with you.

– At the end of handshakes in Ghana, you snap each others’ fingers.

– You might think that because you both speak English you are meaning the same thing – but you are not. Case in point:

  • “Are you sure?” is the same as “Are you serious?”.
  • When people say “They are fine.”, they are not lying. It is the same thing as saying “I am good” – unlike Canadian society where ‘fine’ usually has an undertone

– Everyone is your brother/sister/mother/father/aunt/uncle/grandma/grandpa. Especially in the house I live in. If you don’t know a man’s name, usually you call him ‘Charlie’.

– “Obruni“, which I get called daily, is actually a shortened saying from the Twi word for English. I don’t really know how English gets translated into foreigner or ‘white’ but it does.

– When people say “We will leave soon”, expect to be there for at least another 45 minutes.

– Whenever I ask a question about something that I didn’t expect: there is no sink? there is no water in the shower? aren’t we going to get the giant gecko on the wall out of the house? – I always get the answer “This is Africa”.

I know this is outside but would you like his little brother in your house....

– Most people spend a lot of time on their appearance. I feel underdressed at a lot of places – especially work.

– People here have multiple cell phones. When I asked them why, they explained that the cell phone networks are unreliable so they have different cell phones on different networks.

– People don’t text here really. But they call… lots. Sometimes people call you repeatedly for no reason.

– Conversations with Strangers usually go like this.

“What is your name”


“May I have your phone number”


“Can I have your email address?”


“What are you doing here”

“I am a student journalist”

“Why can’t I have your phone number?”

“Because I don’t know you.”

“Where are you from”


“I like Canada. I want to go there. Can you help me?”

“No, I have no such power.”

“Okay, what is your favourite team?

“I don’t know football”

**Me walking faster and faster

Overall, no matter where I am in the morning, I still manage to sleep too much in the morning to have people yelling at me to wake up (although here, they yell at me before I would even be late).

I also manage to have a messy room. When Raquel was downstairs waiting for me, Grandma asked her “Why do you not help your sister clean her room?” They really don’t understand my messiness. In my defence, I have nowhere to put my clothes.

Some interesting facts about Ghana as a country:

– Although it produces 70% of the world’s cocoa, they have almost no local chocolate here. Companies come in, buy all the cocoa really cheap, export it, manufacture it in China/somewhere with cheap labour, then import it at high prices. The one Ghanaian chocolate bar I did get here was also more expensive than a regular Mars bar sold in some market stores.

The chocolate bar actually produced in Ghana

– Almost everything bought on the shelf has been exported. The only local things are bought on the street, off of someone’s head.

A little preview of the Market

– Most bottled water is imported from SA. If you do not want to buy this water, your only alternative is to drink out of water sachets which sell for 10 peshwa and are made from unknown plastic. To open them, you tear the plastic with your teeth and suck out the water… it is a fun process.

See how fun it is to drink from these...

– People call Takoradi several things. My favourite? The O.C. – Oil City!

5 thoughts on “Ghana Quirks

  1. Again, love sharing this experience! Can we turn this into a book when you come back? Very surprised about the cell phones, I actually would have thought that they didn’t have cell phones, crazy. What are the riches/poors of the country? To what role do money and status play in the culture?

    • Unlike lots of African countries, Ghana has a good sized ‘middle-class’. And money is extremely important to some people. Especially rich men. They call them “big men” over here.

  2. Love it! Reminds me of Ethiopia especially the ‘can I have your phone number/email’. Ketema calls those people ‘to goes’ because they want to go to your country lol.

  3. Pingback: My Birthday Week | Oh, oh, oh, Miss Alyssa

  4. Pingback: Ghana Quirks: Part 2 | Oh, oh, oh, Miss Alyssa

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