In every country, there are acceptable and unacceptable practices that all citizens and visitors must be aware of. Ghana is a country of rich culture and tradition; and as the saying goes in Ghana: ‘the best tradition goes on’. So in this writeup, we bring you some basic etiquettes that are practiced in Ghana which we think will be helpful to Green Views’ residents travelers or expatriates.
Don’t accept something with your left hand
Giving is an integral part of the Ghanaian culture. Family and friends share their joyous moments often with a gesture of giving. But you don’t dare accept something from someone with your left hand. Doing that is seen in the Ghanaian culture as a sign of disrespect to the giver. It can also be interpreted as a sign of ingratitude to the giver.
If for some reason you can’t accept something with your right hand because it may be occupied, accept with the left and say: “sorry for using my left”. That way, the person will be cool.
Remember to say thank you
Another basic etiquette that we know applies to all cultures is to say thank when a kind gesture or a good deed is extended to you. But the Ghanaian way of saying thank you is more elaborate than common in many European and American communities.
In Ghana, it is much appreciated when you reach out to the person who has done a good deed to you the next day to further say thank you. This doesn’t matter even if you thanked the person on the day the good deed was done to you. Doing this shows you really appreciate the gift or the gesture by the person. If you don’t do that, it will be interpreted that you didn’t appreciate that gift or gesture.
In some communities, especially in rural areas, the entire deceased family must go round and thank all who attended the funeral of their beloved. This is mostly done in close-knit communities where everybody knows everyone. However, in cities, this is rarely done. A simple phone call by any member of the family is sufficient. If the person is a close neighbor, it is best to go to his house and say thank you the next day.
In Ghana, do not greet with the left hand
Greeting is also an important part of the Ghanaian culture. In some communities, greetings should go beyond the usual good morning or good afternoon. In some communities in the Northern Region, a wife must bend or prostrate when greeting her husband or elders in the community.
But that is not applied to the whole of Ghana. What we know applies is that everyone is expected to greet with their right hand. Greeting with the left hand is considered highly disrespectful and rude to the person you are greeting, especially if he or she is an adult or elderly.
So, always remember to extend the right hand in greeting to avoid offending others needlessly. Especially for the kids of our residents, it is important you appreciate this.
Don’t greet the elderly while in cap or hat
It seems greeting is such an important thing here in Ghana. Yes, it is. Common greeting can form people’s opinion about you. Through greeting, people may see you as respectful, polite, courteous or the direct opposite of all these fine qualities. So, it is important for us to educate our foreign residents on some basic things they should know about greeting.
In Ghana, the elderly and people in authority are given special treatment. So when greeting any of them, respect must be shown. One thing that is considered disrespectful is greeting the elderly or someone in authority with a cap or hat on your head.
When you want to greet someone elderly or a person in authority, just take the cap off your head, and after leaving his or her presence, put it back on. In any case, most people know foreigners are not aware of this etiquette, so little offence is taken when a foreigner does it. But it is better to let you know about this so as not to offend anyone.