Culture and Language

1 min read
01 Jan 2024

Ghanaians are friendly and care about making a good impression. Respect is important, especially for the elderly, who should be addressed as sir or madam or by their formal title. Handshakes are used in formal settings and hugs reserved for informal contexts, but the boundaries between personal and professional can be unclear. Workers often socialize together, and official meetings usually begin with a prayer. Ghanaians are religious, so don’t be surprised by a church invitation. “Ghana Man Time,” or GMT, alludes to the penchant for lateness in Ghanaian society. It’s not unusual to wait hours to see a person of high standing and responses to emails or phone calls can be slow. Service requests often require multiple follow-ups, even for simple things like a restaurant bill, but many expats learn to appreciate the slower pace of life. It’s common to have domestic help like housekeepers and nannies, as well as security guards.

Learning the Language

English is Ghana’s official language and it’s used widely for business and in daily life. Formal English is taught in school, but you’re likely to hear pidgin English, also known as Kru English, in daily interactions. Ghana has about eighty local languages, of which Twi is the most popular. Learning a few greetings and key expressions will help you integrate and make a good impression. Depending on where you reside in Accra,
it may be useful to learn an additional local language. Ga is the traditional language in Osu and Jamestown, while Hausa is widely spoken in Zongo and Nima. Ghanaians enjoy hearing foreigners speak a local language and are usually happy to chip in a quick lesson in passing. Alliance Française and the Goethe-Institut offer Twi lessons. Check out learnakan.com for resources or hire a tutor through accraexpat.com

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