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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Traditions and Customs That Only Ghanaians Can Understand 

In this article, I will be explaining some Traditions and Customs that only Ghanaians understand. As a land of countless tribes and an abundance of languages and customs, Ghana is ripe for the idiosyncrasies that make this West African country truly unique and special. 

Ghanaians’ Traditions and Customs

Ghana- Accra

Here are a few Ghanaians Traditions and Customs

The Handshake 

More than a greeting symbol, this elaborate meeting of palms, thumbs and index fingers begins as a normal handshake then, before the two people withdraw their hands, the palms of the hands slide together until the middle fingers touch and then turn hands so that the palms are glimpsed before joining thumb and forefinger for the signature click at the end.

A handshake to symbolize friendship and ease can be confusing at first, but it’s simple, fun, and a great indicator of showing good spirit and familiarity with another human. 

The left-handed Insult 

Never hand anything to anyone with your left hand, unless you want to deeply offend them.

Traditionally, before the advent of toilet paper and toilet paper, you used your left hand to clean yourself after obeying a call from nature, and your right hand was reserved for eating food and interacting with others.

So to show someone, other than a sworn enemy, your right hand is to deeply offend someone to the point of anger. Be careful!  

Read Also: Traditional Healthcare Beliefs in Africa

No Music Before Homowo 

To appease the sea goddess Maame Water, there is a ban on playing music in all areas held by the Ga people, whose lands are mainly located on the country’s coasts and occupy a large part of Accra and its beaches.

This means that for a couple of months a year it gets very quiet in Osu and places like Kokrobite where the stereo bass is deep.

It may be strange to be in a bar with no background music, but the people of Ga take this practice very seriously, believing that Maame Water is holding back their fortune for the next year and opposing his edicts would spell disaster. The ban is for the Homowo festival in May. 

The Ghanaian Salad 

At some point in Ghana’s history, it decides that the traditional salad in Ghana would consist of lettuce, tomato, onion, boiled egg, tuna and … baked beans.

Yes, baked beans. Heinz, in fact. Obviously with a sprinkling of salad cream on top. This “traditional” salad is eaten on its own or alongside jollof rice, where flavors and quirks come together to create something surprisingly tasty!   

Inventing New Words 

Sometimes English is not good and Ghanaians like to come up with their own, more practical words and phrases. Two of these are “traffigatore”, a fusion of “traffic” and “indicator” as used on a car and with a “g” inserted for good measure.

Another word related to the car is “boganiser” which, in Ghana, is the correct way to pronounce “vulcaniser”. If you need fresh air for your tires and go ask for a “vulcanizer”, good luck!  

Keep the Dead  

Usually when a person dies, the body is buried within a couple of weeks, the family says goodbye, and people bring food and refreshments to the funeral.

This is not the case with some Christian tribes in Ghana who can leave loved ones in cold storage for up to a year and, in the country’s most famous case, five years, to prepare and save money for the funeral.

Funerals are lavish affairs in which the family of the deceased spends an inordinate amount of money to feed and entertain large numbers of people, thus indicating how important the person was in life. 

Read Also: Independence Day History in United States of America

The Gesture of Cursing  

Tweaka, means “return to the sender” in patois, and is in conjunction with a gesture that consists of taking a thumb and spinning it around the head before moving away from the imaginary circle and is use as a response when someone has ill will towards about you, or says something negative.

A serious spiritual rebuke, this is how the Ghanaian swears with karmic retribution added on top.  

Flexible Timing 

Sometimes it makes you crazy, other times it makes you laugh, it just depends on what kind of mood you are in when a Ghanaian plays fast and loose with time.

“Almost there” more often means they are nowhere near and you should expect a wait of at least half an hour. When a meeting time is assign, always add half an hour or an hour, even for a business meeting.

“I’m on my way” could mean “I’m not gone yet” and when you finally meet, especially in business, it’s best to go with the flow, knowing that most meetings will end at a natural point and no one will check theirs. watches. Ghanaians are essentially free people, creating a kinder approach to life, but this can be very frustrating for the Western-minded person steeped in efficiency.  


Chinaza Ogbachalu
Chinaza Ogbachaluhttps://www.chinazaogbachalu.com/
My name is Chinaza Ogbachalu, and I am a writer. I have been writing news and opinion articles for five years plus and have always had a passion for storytelling. I grew up in Nigeria and graduated from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria, with a degree in linguistics and communication studies. I have written books that have been well-received by critics and readers alike. My work often focuses on culture and lifestyle, and I draw inspiration from my own experiences and observations of the world around me. As a news writer, I am responsible for researching and writing engaging and accurate news stories for our online audience. I have a strong passion for current events and am skilled at conducting interviews and gathering information from sources. I am grateful for the support of my readers and am constantly humbled by their enthusiasm for my work. Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me and my writing.


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