Following on from my “Ghana English” post, I thought I would go into a few of the quirks that have made me laugh over the years. We are a nation of interesting people both in Africa and here in the diaspora.
I am going to start off with the plane journey. I have travelled around Europe, other African countries and the States, once the plane lands you listen to the announcement and in an orderly fashion leave the plane. Travelling to Ghana however, once the plane lands the passengers’ clap and cheer. I don’t know if it is to thank the Lord that the family witches didn’t manage to stop them from arriving but every time, no matter the airline, expect a round of applause.
Disembarking also takes a while, if you are at the back of the plane, don’t bother to get up because it’s going to be a long wait. The reason being, hand luggage. Our European friends usually carry a bag, at most a rucksack, every Ghanaian seems to travel with a trolley case and a big bag, plus whatever they have purchased at Duty Free, you may even see a reef or two (for those who are going for a family funeral). Nobody knows how to travel light.
If you are of Ghanaian origin or if you have Ghanaian friends and you are travelling to the nation. Don’t tell them too far in advance, I don’t know how they do it but there is always someone who is in need of shoes, a new dress, money. Even if that person is travelling in the next week, if they here you are travelling, they expect you to carry something (this happens on the way back too).
If you know me, you know my detest for the ECG and the fluctuating power system. When the lights go out, a Ghanaian will say “oh”, well it’s more half a syllable so “o” and when it returns, we cheer and give the God of light a round of applause. Something that is taken for granted in the west is another man’s treasure.
Driving in Ghana, well it’s not for everyone. I have to admit, I picked up some very bad habits so I tend not to drive much. The government can commission 10 new legal roads, a Ghana man will find away to make his own 11th back road through bushes and peoples houses. So what happens is when everyone gets to a main junction, there is a traffic jam with everyone trying to push in. I used to start work at 8 but would have to leave no later than 5.50 to arrive by 7.30 (bear in mind had there been little or no traffic it would take 30 minutes). On social media they showed police clamping down on drivers not respecting the laws. The worst culprits, government officials. The worst thing is that they were arguing that they were late for parliament and need to be there to UPHOLD THE LAW. First of all, if you need to be somewhere, leave early enough and secondly, practise what you preach.
Sundays are the only days you will not find much traffic, and drivers appear to uphold the law, because Sundays are for the Lord.
When we take money out of the ATM, we count our money, we don’t even trust our own family members let alone a machine.
My final note for today is when you travel, have your main money, your back up money and your just in case money. I don’t know what happens type of African mathematics happens but your money goes like water. Also don’t go with a view that “oh, this is only $5, $10”, trust me it adds up and if you don’t budget well, you will be running to the ATM more than you care to. Also, there are a lot of ATM’s around, the ones that actually dispense cash is somewhat questionable.
That’s all I can think of right now, but if any more quirks come to mind, I will post a part 2.
You just got to love Ghana.