Tag Archives: Culture

50th Post

In honor of my 50th post on this blog, I recently sat down and wrote 50 random things I’ve learned from Ghana.

  1. Always greet.
  2. Unless you are going to the restroom or throwing something away
  3. Different greetings in Ewe literally translate to, “Did you wake up?” and “Are you alive?”
  4. Utensils are very optional, even when eating rice. Rice
  5. And when eating with your hands only use your right.
  6. You drink, not eat oatmeal.
  7. Therefore, oatmeal is a substitute for tea. Seriously, don’t order both oatmeal and tea for breakfast.
  8. Everything can be carried on your head, including machetes and chainsaws.
  9. A man’s primary responsibility in a household is to produce children.
  10. Women mostly take care of everything else, including cooking, cleaning, paying school fees, etc.
  11. Health insurance cost about 7 bucks a year.
  12. I can get a fully tailored suit for 70 bucks.
  13. Ghanaians are crazy about their national football team, the Black Stars, and always remind me they beat the U.S. in the past two World Cups.
  14. Stone chippings are valuable, so people spend hours cracking stones.
  15. A simple construction project often takes decades to complete.
  16. Ghana has an abundance of cocoa, yet it is a chocolate wasteland. CocoaSeeds
  17. There are two main seasons in Ghana: rainy season and dry (hot) season.
  18. But my favorite season is “mango season”.
  19. Oranges are peeled with a knife.
  20. They are eaten by cutting the top off and squeezing the juice into your mouth.
  21. Spiders are your friend.
  22. Mosquitoes are your enemy.
  23. In fact, every illness is attributed to malaria.
  24. Insects are edible.
  25. The only critter you should be really scared of is a snake.
  26. Many people think washing your hands after eating is more important than before.
  27. You cook sitting down.
  28. It’s acceptable to throw your trash anywhere, especially the bush.
  29. The “bush” is any part of outside of town where nobody lives.
  30. It’s not rude to call someone “old man”, “white man”, “black man”, etc.
  31. AVA is a global phenomenon. AVA
  32. I really miss washing machines.
  33. I can make small children cry on command just by being white.
  34. Prepaid phone plans are great!
  35. Electricity typically goes off everyday.
  36. A drinking bar is called a spot.
  37. A restaurant is called a chop bar.
  38. Obama has his own food line.
  39. ObamaBiscuitsAnd clothing line (Obama underwear. Sorry no photos).
  40. Due to inflation, the decimal point on the Ghana cedi was moved 4 places to the left a few years ago.
  41. Many people have yet to adjust, and as a result, 1 (new) cedi is still referred to 10,000 (old) cedis.
  42. Transportation costs have increased 50% since I’ve been in Ghana.
  43. A taxi isn’t full unless you have 4 people in the back and possible 2 in the passenger seat.
  44. Checkers is called draft. Drafts
  45. Underwear is called pants and pants are called trousers.
  46. The same can be said about coffee.
  47. Make sure you finish your run by 7am or the sun will beat you.
  48. There are plenty of people in senior high school that are older than me.
  49. Few people know the difference between Europe and America.
  50. Despite and because of all these, I love Ghana.

Togo Party

During the past month I’ve had houseguests. My housemate’s sister and her six children ranging from elementary school to high school age are here from Togo. The children are on break from school until October so most of the family decided to spend their vacation at my house. In general I don’t mind them being here. I find it interesting that they treat me like the guest in my own house. They wash my clothes, cook, and clean my dishes for me. I especially appreciate the washing clothes part. This saves me hours of my time and they do a better job hand washing than I do.

Having them in the house forces me to practice my Ewe. In Togo Ewe is the dominant tribal language and French is their colonial language. As a result my Togolese guests don’t speak any English. So to communicate I have to rely on my Ewe and one semester of beginner French. To make things more complicated the Togolese dialect of Ewe is different than the Ghanaian dialect. For example, the way you welcome someone back to the house is different. It sounds like a random example to use, but in Ghanaian/Togolese culture it’s a phrase that is used dozens of times a day. Even the word for bread is different (abolo in Ghana versus akpono in Togo). If I butchered the spellings, sorry to all of my readers who are Ewe experts.

Just a few of the kids from Togo.

Just a few of the kids from Togo.

Six extra kids running around the house can be entertaining at first. But after a month it gets old. Staying at someone’s house for a month in America is a long time. Too long in fact, you would probably be kicked out by then. But in Ghana, it’s almost expected. When you travel and stay over for only a few days, you will be asked why you are leaving already. People truly have a different sense of time here. Nonetheless, I’m still American so I’ve been getting a little annoyed with my houseguests lately. I’m starting to think teaching the kids how to play Uno was a bad idea. Now every night is Uno night. However, after learning that Togo is the least happy place on Earth, perhaps I can let them stay. That is, if they wash my clothes for another week.


Culture Day

Last Friday there was an interschool culture competition for Primary and Junior High students in a nearby community, Abutia Kloe. Students from my community participated and I got to see some of it despite having some other fieldwork I had to do. While I was there I saw choir singing, drumming and skits performed by the students. Unfortunately, I missed most of the bobobo dancing, which was the main attraction, because it is the most popular type of Ewe dance/music.

Students singing choir songs.

Students singing choir songs.

Student drumming.

Student drumming.