Ghana cultural insights
The following cultural insights are intended to provide snapshots of the overall social and cultural norms as well as the workplace environment that a Canadian might face working in a specific country. The content in no way reflects official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada, Global Affairs Canada or the Centre for Intercultural Learning.
On this page
Local and Canadian perspectives for the following subjects:
- Communication styles
- Display of emotion
- Dress, punctuality & formality
- Preferred managerial qualities
- Hierarchy and decision-making
- Religion, class, ethnicity, & gender
- Privileges and favouritism
- Conflicts in the workplace
- Motivating local colleagues
- Recommended books, films & foods
- In-country activities
- National heroes
- Shared historical events with Canada
- About the cultural interpreters
- Related information
When Ghanaians meet for the first, the interaction may be stiff and formal initially. However, this soon disappears once a rapport has been built. Building the rapport may include asking about your name, where one come from (inside or outside the country), your occupation, if you are married, if you have children, where you went to school etc. All this helps develop some common grounds to pick a topic for conversation. After this familiarization stage, the conversation can go anywhere from family, school, politics, and religion.
Ghanaians are open and friendly. They can easily engage in conversation with someone who is new to the county. They could be curious to know what brings the person to Ghana. A foreigner might be faced with answering some of the questions above to establish relationship with the local. Good topics of discussion centers around significance of a persons’ name and meaning, ethnic origin, family, religion and occupation.
Greetings accompanied by a handshake are common and are extremely important in Ghanaian society. Greetings are a sign of acknowledgement, respect and concern for others. To ignore a greeting or failing to greet someone is a serious insult to most Ghanaians. Most greetings are in the dominant local language and are followed by questions about one’s health, the family welfare, the journey etc.
If a foreigner wants to make a good impression, it is advisable to learn one or two greetings in the local language. Learn one local greeting; you may not get the pronunciation right, but just make the attempt. It will be highly appreciated by the locals.
Ghanaians have a keen sense of humour and enjoy telling jokes. If a Ghanaian start teasing, that means they are becoming relaxed and comfortable with each other.
Ghanaians value the ritual of greeting. It is a more lengthy process than is typical for Canadians.
Ghanaian culture dictates a much smaller area of personal space than Canadian culture does. A Canadian may feel their personal space is being invaded in conversation with Ghanaians who may stand a foot apart, often with a hand on your shoulder. Learning to accept and adapt to this cultural style is imperative in assimilating and endearing yourself to your Ghanaian colleagues and friends. Hand shaking is important and the use of the left hand is culturally frowned upon.
Gesture is more important than topic. It is customary and polite to ask about the well being of family, to nod and shake hands, and often as you speak your hands remain in a loose grip.
Ghanaians are wonderful communicators and they generally love greetings and small talk. It would be a mistake to overlook the importance of this chance to get to know someone. Cutting the greetings and small talk short can be seen as rude or dismissive.
Although English is the official language of Ghana, local languages are widely spoken. Twi is the largest and most common local language. Ghanaians will be very receptive to any foreigner learning Twi phrases and incorporating them into conversations. Learning basic greetings in any of the local language goes a long way. It demonstrate your interest in the country and the culture and is highly impressive to Ghanaians.
Ghanaians have an indirect way of communicating and stating what they really need think, or want especially when they are talking to somebody in higher position. Ghanaians expect the listener to decipher the message to find out what they really mean. They tend to use proverbs, wise sayings, and analogies. This allows ideas or messages to be convened in a manner that does not offend.
Silence may not always mean that the Ghanaian agrees with you, in fact it may mean they should not object and show any disagreement as a sign of respect for authority or age difference. If someone is uncomfortable with a conversation or question, they will say nothing rather than make the other uncomfortable. Most Ghanaians (especially children) will not generally look directly into the eyes of somebody in authority, a higher status person or an elderly person. Making direct eye contact with such persons shows disrespect.
Ghanaians use a lot of hand and body gestures when communicating. Knocking the hands together, palms up, in front of the body may mean “please” or “I beg of you”, but can also mean thanks. Shaking index figure at someone means warning or admonition. Both hands placed on the head are a sign of grief, sorrow and mourning.
In Ghana, the left hand is considered ‘unclean’. As such, you are not supposed to eat with your left hand. Most people learn this at a very tender age (sometimes painfully). Pointing to or handing over an object with the left hand is also frowned upon. Greeting someone of higher status with the left hand is considered very disrespectful. If one must use the left hand, an apology must be rendered before the left is used.
Ghanaians are extremely expressive people. ‘Non-word’ communication is extremely important and accompanies all interaction. Ghanaians offer approval, understanding and reinforcement in conversations with a nod of the head and an utterance of “eh heh”. Hands and facial expressions are important and serve to emphasise a point. Emotions are part of all conversations and eyes as well as hands are used extensively. As an outsider it is easy to mistake a light-hearted debate between Ghanaians for an emotional argument, as voices are raised and hands gesticulated.
Ghanaians love a lively debate. The experience of shopping is worth mentioning here, as it is an integral part of the culture and involves a style of communication that must be learned by any visitor, in order to excel and enjoy the experience.
Bargaining is a dance that necessitates a balance between humour, stubbornness and patience. It is a wasted opportunity for banter from a Ghanaian perspective, to select an item, ask its price, accept, pay and move on. Rather both seller and potential buyer expect and look forward to a heated back-and-forth about what the item is worth, what it means to each etc. Foreigners risk losing out and paying far too much by refusing to engage. In the end, whether or not the item is purchased, there has been an extensive interaction and hopefully neither buyer nor seller feel cheated. You might even gain a new friend!
Display of emotion
Public display affection is less acceptable while display of emotion is very common, particularly, in the case of death in the family or someone well known to the individual. Public display of anger is very common among street vendors or drivers etc., which sometimes can turn into street fights, shouting and some violence.
In Ghana, friends of the same sex may often hold hands when walking or speaking to each other. This has no reference to sexual orientation. Members of the opposite sex may also hold hands, but showing more affection in public is less acceptable. The younger affluent generation are changing the culture, so one may observe this in public.
Ghanaians display of happiness, grief, annoyance, anger are often highly exaggerated to a westerner’s perspective. Affection between friends is acceptable and it is not uncommon to see two heterosexual men walking hand in hand down the street. Romantic love however is considered a private affair and displays of love such as kissing and hugging between couples in public is not common and usually frowned upon.
Anger is also expressed freely. Exclamations of disbelief, accompanied by a loud utterance of “ah!” with a furrowed brow and hands opened, is common. It is a full body expression.
Grief is expressed, usually by women in a seemingly exaggerated way. Weeping and swaying one’s entire body to express extreme grief is common. Many funerals boast professional mourners who are paid to weep, moan and cry out for the deceased.
Dress, punctuality & formality
Casual dressing for most occasions is the unwritten rule in Ghana, although a suit and tie or dress is required for more formal events. They dress appropriately for the workplace, usually tropical and summer clothes. Western dress is standard in most areas. Officials wear traditional clothing for ceremonial occasions. Ghanaians like to look good both inside and outside their homes. They usually dress extremely smart since what you wear determines status and kind of service or reception you get at places you visit.
Planning and scheduling are not high qualities of most Ghanaians. This is mostly because of the concept of time and family obligations which takes precedence over everything else. What does not get done today can be done tomorrow, so people turn to ignore or extend deadlines or schedules.
In the workplace, Ghanaians tend to be formal. The hierarchical administrative structure of the office environment is respected. Management and their titles, including educational titles are acknowledged and used in all communications. Ghanaians will address new acquaintances by title and family (last) name. Friends and family members often use first names.
Generally the office environment is quite formal. Accra’s heat does not deter professionals from donning full business suits with ties and cufflinks, nylons and high heels.
There is less formality with regard to time and punctuality, though Ghanaians are early risers and it’s not uncommon for many people to arrive at work before official business hours begin. Accra’s sprawling metropolis, relatively old roads and expensive housing close to the city center has led to extreme traffic congestion from the outlying areas. Many are forced to set out to work literally hours early to avoid or cope with the rush. For this reason as well, many people like to leave the office a bit early to get a head start on the lengthy commute.
Ghanaians respect and adhere to a formal power structure in the office place. Roles are clearly defined and adhered to. In a boardroom setting, the manager is expected to take charge, lead discussions, and generally direct proceedings. Respect for authority and age are strictly observed. It would not be common to see a manager and an entry-level employee socializing or having lunch together.
There is an emphasis on professionalism and image, and each employee is expected to uphold the image of the company or institution. Someone dressing shabbily or not observing proper greeting protocol would be seen to be representing the company in a bad light.
Preferred managerial qualities
Superiors/managers are respected for the position they occupy, academic credentials (Dr., PhD. etc.), ethnic affiliation, and how one treats and regard their subordinates. Experience, leadership, fairness and knowledge come later.
Ghanaians would want a superior/manager that are very flexible and understanding of unforeseeable situation an employee might face e.g. delay due to traffic or an understanding if he/she should leave work to pick up kids from school. They would want a manager who will attend to their every need even when it is not so much of a priority related to the workplace.
In most cases superiors are not able to know how staff views them as most managers/superiors are far removed from their staff and for lack of an open door policy as is mostly the case in Canada. Staff tends to be fearful of their superiors/managers.
Staff will respect and defer to their boss. By default there will be a formal relationship, which is difficult to bend toward a casual one, due to the cultural importance of respect for authority.
Getting to know the names of children and other family members goes a long way to gaining an employee’s respect and gratitude. Asking extensively about family before launching into official business is highly appreciated.
Putting emphasis on training and skill development is also important. Employees value the chance to further their skill set and appreciate learning on the job.
Ghanaians, like many employees globally, value gestures such as giving extra holidays or bonuses at Christmas time.
It would be quite difficult to ascertain exactly how Ghanaian staff view their superiors, as the culture of respect for authority and elders may keep subordinates from expressing any concerns they might have.
Hierarchy and decision-making
Because the society is very hierarchical, decision making in the workplace, is made by management, normally the top or head of the organization. Employees have very little control and are told how to do their jobs; they normally comply because the boss said so. Opinions or input of employees are not necessarily sought for in decision making. Whether the head consults with others in the process, it’s the prerogative and responsibility of the manager to make the decision.
Even in theprivate sector,decisions are mostly taken by the owner of the company. In most cases, the immediate supervisors serve as the liaison between the employees and the owner of the company.
There are so many barriers that are created in most institutional organizations that it is not easy for people to go for feedback from supervisors. It is always about who you know. Therefore, it is easier to discussing such matters with people one is comfortable with.
Generally, decisions are taken by the boss or manager in a Ghanaian business. Input from employees is valued, however, final decisions are usually left to the boss or department head or CEO.
It is not unacceptable to go to a direct superior for answers or feedback, however there is a delicate balance of power to be upheld. Formality and deference to authority must be observed and respected.
Religion, class, ethnicity, & gender
Religion is built into the culture of the people of Ghana and is responsible for many of the beliefs and traditions. Almost two-thirds of Ghanaians profess the Christian faith, and the rest being Muslims and traditionalist. God or Allah is constantly referred to in conversation, proverbs, greetings and explanation of natural events. There is also a growing popularity of Pentecostal and Charismatic church in Ghana over the last 10 years. Ghanaians participate in many different rituals systems, some based on indigenous religion, and others based on various forms of Christianity and Islam. Ghanaian religious groups have a high level of tolerance for each other
One is tempted to view Ghana as a classless society. Class is noticeable mainly in the urban areas. The upper and middle classes are predominantly occupied by the well-educated and the rich. They are generally referred to as the elite. People in the major cities show their class, for example, by the vehicles they drive, the clothes they wear, and the size and location of their houses.
There is another class of Ghanaians who are born into royal families, that is, families of Paramount and Regional Chiefs. The most prominent is the King of Ashanti.
Men are dominant in Ghanaian society holding power in community life and in most government positions. Although with education and assertiveness women are increasingly playing an important role in politics, in government and other areas, important decisions are usually made by men.
Husbands are expected to provide for the family and care for the well-being of their wives and children. A wife is expected to respect their husband’s authority in the household. She has to care for the children and carry out the regular domestic chores even though she may be gainfully employed outside the house. Women in Ghana are very entrepreneurial and independent. As a result, the commercial sector in Ghana is predominantly occupied by women.
Ghana has five major ethnic groups. These include, Akan, Ewe, Ga-Adangbe, Mole-Dagabane, and Guan. The Akans are the dominate group, hence most Ghanaians may speak or understand some form of Akan (Twi) language. Even though Ghanians like to tease each other, there is a very strong tie to their ethnic group. Hence, one should always be cautious when discussing ethnic issues. People turn to be upset easily if stereotype comments or jokes are made about their ethnic group. Intermarriages between various groups are common. However, some still are not comfortable with marrying someone from outside their ethnic group.
No part of Ghana is ethnically homogenous, because of migration to Towns and city in search of employment.
Ghana is comprised of two major religions – Christian and Muslim. Muslims predominantly reside in the northern part of the country, in the smaller towns and villages. Christianity is by far the largest religion in Ghana and plays a huge role in people’s lives. Religion is a common topic of conversation, even upon meeting a person for the first time. You might be asked which church you attend and be invited to a new friend or colleague’s church. It may be considered a slight to refuse such an invitation and this can be a sensitive topic between Ghanaians and visiting expatriates who view religion as something private. However, attending a church service is an excellent way to observe Ghanaian culture.
Church is the centre of many people’s lives and most social events revolve in some way around church. Most Ghanaians pay a tithe to their church and consider it a normal living expense. Charismatic churches are very popular in Ghana and their services are quite lively with a full band and audience participation in services, dancing and singing. Services commonly last many hours.
Many churches in Ghana offer full week or weekend long retreats and these attract huge numbers of people. All weddings are church based and often both the service and reception take place in the church or church compound.
Ghanaians believe that sharing their religion is a duty and they will not hesitate to try converting any non-believer, whether local or foreigner.
It is not uncommon for Ghanaians to carry a bible at all times, reading on public transportation, on lunch breaks at the office or at any given time. Bible verses are quoted everywhere from casual conversations to business meetings, and even presidential speeches. Religion is not considered something to be kept separate from the office environment and foreigners must take this into account when working in Ghana.
Class and Ethnicity
The Ghanaian population is comprised of a variety of tribes, the largest groups being the Ashanti, Ga and Ewe. The Ashanti kingdom is the oldest and most powerful in Ghana’s history. They organised and fought British colonialism in various wars at the turn of the century. Due to an amassing of gold, Ashantis have historically been the wealthiest and make up the majority of the educated elite. Stereotypes between tribes are well engrained and can limit and confine large groups of people into classist conformity.
In Ghana, the wealthier one is, the more domestic workers they will retain. House guards, gardeners, maids, cooks and nannies from the informal, uneducated lower classes flock to the cities to work for relatively low wages, for the upper classes.
From a Ghanaian perspective, foreigners are sometimes lumped into one large category in terms of ethnicity. Generally believed to be wealthy and highly educated, foreigners are not only tolerated, they are mostly well respected. However with the many times unfounded perception of foreigners as wealthy, there are built-in expectations about what one can do to help or contribute to a friend, colleague or even stranger in the street. The more remote the village, the more stereotypes about rich foreigners prevail, and it is not uncommon to be approached for money or assistance.
Ghanaian women are still expected to manage the family home, cooking and raising the children, however there is a progressive attitude in the workplace toward the role of women. Many Ghanaian women have excelled in higher education and retain many positions of power both politically and in business. Domestic staff are common in household where mothers work.
Divorce is becoming more accepted and many single mothers are raising families and maintaining professional careers.
It is not uncommon for men to cat call women and express their appreciation or desire for a woman in public. This can be surprising and upsetting for a foreign woman if she is not expecting such behaviour. In the workplace this happens on a more subtle level, and Ghanaian colleagues will not be disturbed by the (at times unwanted or unsolicited) attention men give to women, even as professionals. It is seen as something natural and harmless.
It is very important to establish a personal relationship with Ghanaians before getting to business. Before engaging in business conversation, Ghanaian tend to spend time asking about the welfare of the others family, wife and kids etc.. They might even discuss the latest news items and other issues unrelated to business to show care and build some rapport. These formalities are more important than achieving the aims of the business at hand. Failure to do so will give one an impression that you insensible and disinterest in a fellow human being.
Pleasantries are as important as the actual business at hand. It is extremely important to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to hand shaking and general inquiries about family before embarking on official business talk.
Privileges and favouritism
Ghanaians rely deeply on personal relationship and friendship in getting goods and services, even in the workplace. People actually expect and look forward to being granted special privileges or considerations.
It is the norm for most Ghanaian colleague/employee to want special privileges or considerations.
Ghanaians tend to use gender, religion, class, and ethnicity to get employment and sustain a position at a company or to be considered for special promotions, for pay raise, to win a contract, select team members or get a pardon from sanction if in the wrong. These factors create unfairness, corruption, low moral, and mistrust among employees.
Corruption and bribery have been a problem on many levels in Ghana. It is not uncommon for a sales person to confront expectations of an unofficial bonus to be paid in the signing of a deal. However local media have recently highlighted the problem, and there is more social pressure against such practices.
Conflicts in the workplace
Depending on the problem one could attempt to try to approach the colleague to mend the relationship. If both parties are not able to resolve the issue, then one or both might require an intermediary to help resolve the problem.Ghanaians will normally try to avoid direct confrontation at all cost and prefer to work through third parties who can mediate for them. There could be a tendency to exaggerate and for several people to talk at the same time or get very loud and excited when they feel very strongly about something.
If the issue at hand is complicated, a private closed door meeting is held to settle the matter peacefully; it is all about dignity, pride and face saving.
Ghanaians do not typically like to engage in direct confrontation, but rather in a forum with other colleagues and/or managers in a third person style. One person will air their grievance to the mediator, avoiding direct eye contact with the person they have issue with. The other can then respond in a similar manner. Mediation can be formal or informal, and most often the mediator will be able to resolve the conflict, their decision on the matter being respected by both parties.
Motivating local colleagues
Generally, Ghanaians’ motivation to perform well on the job has to do with the need to earn enough money to provide for their immediate and extended family. Accumulations of material wealth translates into power, respect, status in the extended family and the community which in turn motivates them perform well on the job. Failure or losing face are another motivation.
Ghanaian employees are motivated when they note the company’s profits reflected in their salaries. They are extra motivated when the company has different packages set out for them and their entire family. These packages could be medical, fuel, scholarships for students, etc. Motivation also comes from the character of their immediate supervisors especially when they are appreciated.
Positive feedback goes a long way to encourage employees, as it would in most cultures. Bonuses for jobs well done, recognition in a company newsletter etc., and face to face progress meetings are all good ways to encourage staff in their work.
Recommended books, films & foods
- My first Coup d’état by Ghana’s current President, John Dramani Mahama.
- Ghana Understanding the People and Their culture by John Kuada & Yao Chachah.
- Ghana 50 Years of Independence” by J. G. Amamoo
- Culture and customs of Ghana” by Steven J.Salm and Toyin Falola
- Asante in the Nineteenth Century, by Ivor Wilks.
This is a sample of some the most watched and most popular of the many television stations in Ghana;
- ADOM TV; - The channel promotes culture, tradition, political. Local movies and news.
- GTV – This is Ghana’s international public broadcaster, it is run by the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation GBC TV
- TV3 – Is an independent Television Channel based in Accra.
- METRO - TV – Is a privately own free to air television station.
- High-life musicians include A. B. Crentsil, Abrantie Amakye Dede (owner of the famous Abrantie Spot in Accra), Daasebre Gyamena, Daddy Lumba, Micheal Owusu Addo (Sarkodie), Charles Nii Armah Mensah Jnr. (Shatta Wale) and Kojo Antwi, Bogga (or Burger)
- Hip-Life music: Mzbel, Rebecca Acheampomaa (Becca), Efya Jane Fara (Efya).
- Gospel music: Sonnie Badu, Florence Obinim, Ernest Opoku, Uncle Ato, Cecilia Marfo, and Opiesie Esther.
Ghana’s popular foods include red – red (ripe fried plantain with beans stews), jollof rice (rice cooked in a meat and vegetable stew), waakye (spiced rice and beans) - rice balls with groundnut (peanut) soup, and kelewele (spiced fried ripe plantain). Millet processed into a paste and eaten with a soup is the staple in the north. ‘Fufu’ is another main dish in Ghana. It is a dish with pounded plantain and cassava or yam made into a sticky paste and served with soup. One will have to swallow fufu without chewing. The other two big local dishes are kenkey (dokono) and banku; both made from maize flour. Bread is often eaten at breakfast.
Restaurants are not common with Ghanaians, but most local “chop bars” offer a range of indigenous dishes to workers and bachelors. People frequently snack on goods offered for sale by street hawkers. Ghanaians use the word ‘chop’ for food or to mean eat.
- The Beautiful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah (novel)
- Kofi and His Magic by Maya Angelou (novel)
- Routes of Remembrance by Bayo Holsley (historical non-fiction)
- Culture and Customs of Ghana by Steve Salm (non-fiction)
- Anansi the Spider: a tale from the Ashanti by Gerald McDermott (children’s fiction)
- Documentary “Chameleon’ which follows Ghana investigative journalist Anas Ameyaw Anas.
- Documentary ‘Big Men’ which looks into behind-the-scenes deals, and the implications and impacts of Ghana’s recent oil discovery.
- Asofo Aware (youtube) – Ghanaian soap opera style movie
- An African City– takes place in modern Accra about the lives of professional women
- Talent Hood
- This website provides information on history of Ghanian music. Some of the most popular musicians are:
- Pop/hip-hop/hiplife music: – Reggie Rockstone, Sarkodie, Efya, Guru, Paedae
- Highlife – Daddy Lumba, Nana Acheampong, Joe Mensah, George Darko
- Christian – Daughters of Glorious Jesus, Taggoe Sisters, Yaw Asomafo
- Osibisa – a Ghanaian group who attained global fame in the 1970’s
There are Ghanaian and West African restaurants in most large Canadian cities, and visiting one to get a taste of Ghanaian cuisine is a great idea.
Most Ghanaian dishes are high in carbohydrates and are comprised of a large portion of starch (yam, plantain, fufu (made of boiled and pounded yam and plantain), cassava, rice, banku (made from fermented corn flour). A protein such as fish, goat, beef or chicken is added with a soup or a stew (soups are palm soup, groundnut soup, light soup), stews (stews are okra stew, garden egg (eggplant) stew, red red made from beans and a tomato base).
Ghanaians generally like their food hot and spicy. ‘Peppeh’ or red pepper is added to almost all dishes. There is also a thick savoury spicy sauce called shito, made from smoked herrings and small shrimps, ground with oil and hot peppers and cooked to a dark brown. Definitely worth a try, but sparingly at first!
Thankfully it is not easy to get processed foods in Ghana, so everything you eat is fresh, whole, natural and non GMO. Tropical fruits like mango, papaya (pawpaw), bananas and pineapples are cheap and plentiful.
Breakfasts usually consist of a porridge, either made from corn or peanut powder with millet or sorghum. Some preferring a heavier meal, eat smoked fish and banku (fermented, boiled cornmeal).
With its ten diverse regions, Ghana has a lot of activities to offer for visitors. Here are a few:
- Makala market
- Osu night Market
- Art center (Accra's Handicraft Market)
Museums & cultural centers
- The National Museum of Ghana
- Army & Prempeh II Museum
- Bolgatanga Museum & Market
- Kumasi Cultural Center- Bantama
- Ussher Fort Museum
- Kakum National Park
- Digya National Park
- Paga Crocodile Pod
- Mole National Park.
Beaches and coastlines
- Labadi beach
- Boli Falls
- Ada beach
- Kokrobite beach
- Cocoloco beach
- Volta River and the Volta Lake.
- Wli waterfalls
- Mount Afadjato
Forts and castles
- Elmina Castle
- St. Jago Castle
- Cape Coast Castle
Drumming, dancing classes (story telling, local proverbs explained through song and dance)
Alliance Francais hosts numerous concerts and events throughout the year, showcasing Ghanaian culture, artists, poets etc.
Ghana has a sprawling market culture in each city and town where vendors, traders, and buyers converge. The markets are crowded and dense with goods and services, and making one’s way through the markets for the first time can be quite daunting. Smells, sights, tastes intermingle to make it a sensory smorgasbord. The art of bargaining is a learned skill and is a must in the market culture.
is the national sport and Ghanaians are passionate about it. Attending a game, whether a small local team, or an international match is a great way to interact with Ghanaians and witness their enthusiasm cheering for their sports heroes in action.
Buka, The Chop Bar and Papaye in Accra
Bars, nightclubs in the cities of Accra, Takoradi and Kumasi
Church events, weddings, funerals
- Queen mother Yaa Asantiwaa (1840-1921) who led the Ashanti rebellion against British Colonialism in 1900 to defend the “golden Stool”.
- Nana Prempeh 1 (1870 – 1931): he restored the vanishing glory of the Ashanti Empire and defended its independence against the British. He was latter exiled by the British.
- Dr. Kwame Nkrumah – led the then Gold cost to independence after a long struggle, and became the first black head of state in Ghana.
- Emmanuel K. Kotoka (1926 -1967) he was a member of the National Liberation Council which overthrew the Nkrumah Government in 1966. He was killed near the airport grounds in a follow up coup. The Ghana airport is named “Kotoka international Airport in his memory.
- Dr. James K Agree (1875-1927) was an intellectual and missionary teacher who encouraged the education of girls.
- Osei Tutu - (1660—1712 or 1717) was one of the founders and first ruler of the Ashanti empire
- Yaa Asantewa – was a mother and a farmer who became famous for leading the Ashanti tribe’s rebellion against the British in 1900. She defended the Golden Stool, the Ashanti’s spiritual symbol of unity and power.
- Nana Prempeh I – (1870 – 1931) was a king of the Ashantis. He successfully led an Ashanti war against Britain in 1893.
- Kwame Nkrumah – one of Ghana’s leaders, became a symbol of the movement for African independence that occurred during the 1950s and 1960s.
- JB Danquah – was a political leader who founded the United Gold Coast Convention (UGCC), the elite party from which all successive independence movements have sprung.
- Soccer players like Abedi Pele Michael Essien are national heroes in Ghana. The sport is followed by nearly the entire country and Ghanaians are passionate about their teams and players.
Shared historical events with Canada
The only shared historical interest between Canada and Ghana that I am aware of is that, both countries were once British Colonies with the Queen of England as Head of State. This was so till Ghana turned Republic, but opted to still be part of the Commonwealth.
It may be of interest to note that Canada has played a major role and contributed significantly in Ghana’s development right from the beginning. Sir Frederick Gordon Guggisberg, Canadian, Governor of the Gold Coast founded Achimota School and Kumasi Technical School. He was also instrumental in developing the economic growth and vision of Ghana and building its infrastructure.
Non that I am aware of.
Canadians tend to group all of Africa into one and hence any stereotypes would apply to Africa as a whole. Stereotypes are dangerous and can taint one’s perception of Ghanaians. Generally Canadians may believe that Africans are less time conscious than Canadians.
Due to media coverage of Africa and corruption scandals, there might be a perception that everyone is corrupt when it is not the case. Canadians may believe Ghanaians are generally poor and need assistance when in reality the society is more balanced with many Ghanaians enjoying a high standard of living.
About the cultural interpreters
Your cultural SME was born in Cape Coast, in the Central region of Ghana. He completed a BSc. Biology, he also holds a Diploma in Biochemical Technology and a Diploma in Chemical Technology from City and Guilds London. He also holds a Diploma in adult Education and Cross Cultural training. He moved to Canada on a CIDA scholarship to pursue the Biochemical Technology program. He arrived in Canada in early 1970s.
Your Cultural SME is now a retired public servant from Health Canada where after working at various research facilities of Health Canada retired as a Science Learning Advisor. I have done the cultural interpretation work for various organizations as CIDA, CUSO, Teacher's Federation and World University Services overseas. I have a wife and three boys (grownups now)
I am a Canadian with wanderlust who spent a total of 17 consecutive years living, working and enjoying Ghana. I arrived as a single mother in my late twenties as a CUSO volunteer, living with my young son in a traditional Ghanaian compound with over 55 locals. It allowed me an insight that not many foreigners are privy to. It was a special time that I will never forget. I stayed on after the two year volunteer placement, working first as a sales representative and then in a managerial capacity, with a private telecommunications company for 15 years. I became involved in many aspects of Ghanaian society, working and socializing with people from all walks of life. My years in Ghana up to 2012 have shaped my life, and I will never forget Ghana or its hospitality.
I currently live on a sailing Catamaran with my husband, traveling the world, learning about other places and cultures.
Intercultural Issues are intended to provide snapshots of the overall social and cultural norms as well as the workplace environment that a Canadian might face working in a specific country. For each country, two perspectives are provided: one by a Canadian and the other by a person born in the selected country. By comparing the "local point of view" with the "Canadian point of view", you will begin to form a picture of that country's culture. We encourage you to continue your research using a variety of other sources and to use Triangulation as an evaluation process. Although cultural informants were asked to draw on as broad a base of experience as possible in formulating their answers, these should be understood as one perspective that reflects the particular context and life experiences of that person; they are not intended to be a comment on any particular group or society.
You may disagree with or object to the content of some responses. This is to be expected given the complexity of the subject and the problems associated with speaking generally about an entire country and its people. We would encourage you to share your experiences; your contributions will help to make Country Insights a richer environment for learning.
The content of Country Insights in no way reflects official policy or opinions of the Government of Canada, Global Affairs Canada or the Centre for Intercultural Learning.
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