Contributions by Valentine.
Facts you may not have know about Ghana:
Ghana, officially the Republic of Ghana, is a unitary presidential constitutional democracy, located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the sub-region of West Africa. The country is bordered by the Ivory Coast in the west, Burkina Faso in the north, Togo in the east and the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean in the south. Ghana means “Warrior King” in the Soninke language.
Ghana has a population of approximately 28 million, and is a democratic country, led by a president who is both head of state and head of the government.
1. When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?
When meeting someone, it is common to shake hands as a greeting. It is also common to exchange pleasantries and inquire about family before beginning to transact any business.
2. What languages are spoken in the country?
English is the language of the state and widely used as a lingua franca. There are eleven languages that have the status of government-sponsored languages. As Ghana is surrounded by French-speaking countries, French is widely taught in schools and universities, as well as a language used for commercial and international economic exchanges. Since 2006, Ghana is an associate member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the global organisation that unites French-speaking countries.
3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?
We use a mix of 12- and 24-hour systems.
4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?
We drive on the right side of road. One needs to be extra careful with taxis and commercial vehicles, as they sometimes stop or enter roads without any indication.
5. How important is punctuality?
Punctuality is not of the utmost importance, and events often start later than scheduled.
6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?
The music of Ghana is diverse and varies between different ethnic groups and regions. Ghanaian music incorporates several distinct types of musical instruments such as the talking drum ensembles, Akan Drum, goje fiddle and koloko lute, court music, including the Akan Seperewa, the Akan atumpan, the Ga kpanlogo styles, and log xylophones used in asonko music. The most well known genres to have come from Ghana are African jazz, which was created by Ghanaian artist Kofi Ghanaba, and its earliest form of secular music, called highlife. Highlife originated in the late 19th century and early 20th century and spread throughout West Africa.
By the late 1990s, a new generation of artists discovered the so-called Hiplife. The originator of this style is Reggie Rockstone, a Ghanaian musician who dabbled with hip-hop in the United States before finding his unique style. Around the same time, the hip hop genre came into existence in Ghana.
7. Are there any Traditional Dances?
Ghanaian dance is as diverse as its music, and there are traditional dances and different dances for different occasions. The best known Ghanaian dances are those performed during celebrations. These dances include the Adowa, Kpanlogo, Azonto, Klama, and Bamaya.
8. What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?
Ghana plays host to many traditional, commemorative festivals celebrated throughout the year, which may be specific to certain cultural groups.
One such festival is the Odambea Festival, celebrated annually on the last Saturday of August. by the “Nkusukum” chiefs and people of the Saltpond Traditional Area. This event commemorates the migration of the “Nkusukum” people centuries ago from Techiman (500km away) to their present settlement. “Odambea” means “fortified link”, a name resulting from the role played by the “Nkusukum” people in keeping the migrant groups in touch with each other following their exodus from Techiman. A special feature of the festival is the re-enactment of the ancient life styles of the people, which provides a unique opportunity to learn more about how they migrated.
Another example is the Akwasidae Festival, held every six weeks, and celebrated by the Ashanti residents. The celebrations relate to honoring personal and community ancestors, and take place at the Manhyia Palace. The Ashanti King meets the chiefs in the Palace courtyard, and attendees are greeted with music and a parade.
9. What are the seasons like?
The climate of Ghana is tropical and there are two main seasons: the wet season and the dry season. The eastern coastal belt is warm and comparatively dry, the south-west corner of Ghana is hot and humid, and the north of Ghana is hot and dry.
North Ghana experiences its rainy season from April to mid-October while South Ghana experiences its rainy season from March to mid-November. Average daily temperatures range from 30°C (86°F) during the day to 24°C (75°F) at night with a relative humidity between 77 percent and 85 percent. Rainfall ranges from 78 to 216 centimeters (31 to 85 inches) a year.
10. What are some interesting facts about the President?
President Nana Akufo-Addo has been in office since January 2017. He previously served as Attorney General from 2001 to 2003 and as Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2003 to 2007.
Akufo-Addo first ran for President in 2008 and again in 2012, both times as the candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), but was defeated on both occasions. When he won during his third run, in 2016, it was the first time a sitting Ghanaian President had not won a second term.
In September 2017, the president launched the Free High School Education (SHS) policy, which will make secondary high school free for students in Ghana. Akufo-Addo was given an award for Exemplary Leadership in 2018 by the Whitaker Group.
11. What are the country’s major industries?
The economy of Ghana has a diverse and rich resource base, including the manufacturing and exportation of digital technology goods, automotive and ship construction and exportation, and the exportation of diverse and rich resources such as hydrocarbons and industrial minerals. These have given Ghana one of the highest GDP per capita in West Africa.
It is an emerging designated digital economy with mixed economy hybridization and an emerging market. It has an economic plan target known as the “Ghana Vision 2020”. This plan envisions Ghana as the first African country to become a developed country between 2020 and 2029 and a newly industrialized country between 2030 and 2039.
Ghana’s main exports are crude oil, gold, and cocoa beans. The Ministry of Tourism has placed great emphasis upon further tourism support and development. Tourist destinations include Ghana’s many castles and forts, national parks, beaches, nature reserves, landscapes and World Heritage buildings and sites.
12. How do people spend their free time?
Locals spend their free time in many different ways, with some choosing to spend time with family and friends, and others choosing to watch a football game, or develop a hobby.
13. What is a popular local drink?
In south Ghana, Ghanaian drinks such as asaana (made from fermented maize) are common. Along the Lake Volta and south Ghana, palm wine extracted from the palm tree can be found, but it ferments quickly and then it is used to distil akpeteshie (a local gin). Along north Ghana, bisaab/sorrel, toose and lamujee (a spicy sweetened drink) are common non-alcoholic beverages whereas pitoo (a local beer made of fermented millet) is an alcoholic beverage.
Ghanaian distilleries produce alcoholic beverages from cocoa, malt, sugar cane, local medicinal herbs and tree barks. They include bitters, liqueur, dry gins, beer, and aperitifs.
14. What is a popular local dish?
Ghanaian main dishes are organized around a starchy staple food, with which goes a sauce or soup containing a protein sauce. The main ingredient for the vast majority of soups and stews are tomatoes- canned or fresh tomatoes can be used. As a result, nearly all Ghanaian soups and stews are red or orange in appearance.
The typical staple foods in the southern part of Ghana include cassava and plantain. In the northern part, the main staple foods include millet and sorghum. Yam, maize and beans are used across Ghana as staple foods. Sweet potatoes and cocoyam are also important in the Ghanaian diet and cuisine.
An example of a rice-based meal is waakye – a dish of rice and beans with a purple-brown color. The color comes from an indigenous leaf known as sorghum bi-color. This side dish bears striking similarities to West Indian rice and peas. The rice is cooked and steamed with an indigenous leaf, coconut and a pulse such as black-eyed or kidney beans. An example of a maize-based meal is Kenkey/Komi/Dokonu – fermented corn dough, wrapped in corn originating from the Ga who call it komi or Ga kenkey. Another variety originating from the Fanti people is Fante Dokono or Fanti Kenkey which is wrapped with plantain leaves that give it a different texture, flavour and colour as compared to the Ga kenkey. Both are boiled for long periods into a consistent solid balls.
Street food is very popular in both rural and urban areas of Ghana. Ghanaian families eat frequently at street food vendors, from whom all kinds of foods can be bought, including staple foods such as kenkey, red red and waakye. Other savoury foods such as kebab, boiled corn cob, ballfloat (bo-float) and roasted plantain are sold mainly by street food vendors.
15. What do you pay, on average, for the following? (1 USD = approx. GHS 4.79)
3 Course meal: ₵ 75
Domestic beer (500ml): ₵ 6
Cup of coffee: ₵ 10
Coca cola (330ml): ₵ 4
Milk (1l): ₵ 10
Loaf of white bread: ₵ 5
Apples (1 kg): ₵ 12
Water (1.5l): ₵ 3
16. Any general safety tips?
Ghana is regarded as one of the safest African countries for tourists, however it is still a good idea to remain vigilant when walking around, especially alone. It is best not to leave valuables exposed in your car, walk alone at night, carry large sums of money on you, and not accept rides from strangers.
17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:
- Kofi Annan, a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations from January 1997 to December 2006. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He is the founder and chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, as well as chairman of The Elders, an international organization founded by Nelson Mandela.
- Akosua Busia, a Ghanaian actress, film director, author and songwriter who lives in the U.K. Busia is best known for her role as Nettie Harris in the 1985 film The Color Purple alongside Whoopi Goldberg.
- Michael Essien, a Ghanaian professional footballer. He has also been capped for the Ghana national team more than 50 times.
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