5 local Ghanian traditions


I am certain many know about Ghana the place, what about Ghana the people? First, it lies in the Western part of the African continent and the capital Accra is home to 2 million people. A country rich in natural minerals such as oil, but also the leading exporter of cocoa across the globe.

It takes a lot more than a visit to the Cape Coast Castle to understand the Ghanian customs and general way of life. A walk down the streets of Accra will reveal the burgeoning urban lifestyle, rising malls, fast food stops, and very hospitable people. In a week’s time, if you are interactive enough, you will have picked up a few traditional local customs. Here are five traditions and customs that are uniquely Ghanian. 

Simple handshake

The cool handshake is what the Ghanaians call it and now forms part of the local etiquette. To perform the right West African handshake, you must ensure your middle finger snaps onto the idle finger of the person you are greeting. If you need a visual demonstration of the Ghanian handshake, take a look at this video. 

The left-handed gesture

When handing over anything to anyone in Ghana, try your best to do it with your right hand. Apparently, a left-handed gesture is regarded as offensive. Turns out before the advent of the toilets, that arm was associated with self-cleaning after responding to nature’s call.

The silent harvest festival

If you play music along the beaches of Accra, you might land into trouble. Turns out the area is sacred to the Ga people who wouldn’t want to disturb the sea goddess Maame Water. That is why for several months a year, the place gets very quiet in Kokrobite and Osu. Finding a quiet place in the bustling urban centers of Africa is difficult, but religion and custom get their respect. The period of silence is imposed during the harvest festival, also known as Homowo.

Popular words

There are some words you will only hear in Ghana and your mastery of them will reveal how long or how deep into the heartlands your visit was. For instance, “Akwaaba” will be a popular word either written or spoken when you approach a restaurant, it means welcome. “Chale” is also a popular word and is used as an ice breaker. The most popular phrase in the urban centers is ‘Trotro’ or ‘Trosky’ referring to commercial transport vans or buses.

Mourning the dead

In true African fashion, the dead are usually sent away in pomp and galore. In normal cases, the deceased is buried after a couple of weeks in a funeral where food and refreshments are shared among the mourners. In some extreme cases, there are places where the body is subjected to cold storage for months as the family marshalls the resources to send away their loved ones in true Ghanian style. Funerals are treated as lavish affairs and the level of opulence demands on the person’s level of importance in society.