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Home » Country Etiquette » Ghana

Ghana Etiquette Tips

When in Ghana, beware of what you take photographs of. If you want to take pictures of people, ask them first. Many will happily say yes, but some may try to charge you a fee. Sometimes people may fear that by getting their picture taken their soul will be captured, so be aware of that and always ask before snapping a photo. Do not take photos at government or military buildings, prisons, or airports, and seek permission before photographing sacred grounds.

In Ghana, you will find the people to be friendly and welcoming. Nevertheless, Ghanaians, particularly those in villages, can be very conservative and in order to be respectful, it's important to learn a bit about their traditions and etiquette. Below are some etiquette tips to take with you on your trip to Ghana.

1. Dress Attire

  1. DO remove your hat when speaking to an elderly person or a chief, as it shows respect for their traditions.
  2. DO dress somewhat modestly. Shorts, t-shirts, and the like are fine, though some elderly people might find some of those clothes offensive. In the Northern parts of Ghana, which are primarily Muslim, it's also wise to dress a little more conservatively there.
  3. DO wear business suits for formal meetings, like at a bank or with the government. Otherwise, lightweight suits and cotton dresses are suitable.

2. Table Manners

  1. DO enjoy an alcoholic beverage at a local bar, but avoid getting noticeably intoxicated in public. If you don't drink alcohol and are poured a drink, raise your drink to your lips without sipping it, and then pour your drink on the ground. This is socially acceptable.
  2. DON'T eat with your left hand.
  3. DO pay for a meal at a restaurant, if you are who initiated the invitation.
  4. DON'T blow your nose at the dinner table.

3. Tipping

  1. DON'T tip unless the service was particularly good. Keep in mind that tipping is not customary in Ghana, but if you enjoyed the service, a small tip (5%-10%) is appropriate.

4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DO give a gift of Schnapps or gin.
  2. DON'T give or receive gifts with the left hand.

5. Body Gestures

  1. DON'T use your left hand to give or receive items, point at things, or wave at a person.
  2. DON'T sit with your legs crossed among elders or chiefs.
  3. DO expect to see members of the same sex holding hands, especially outside of major cities. It's a sign of friendship. Members of the opposite sex usually don't hold hands.

6. Greetings

  1. DO greet with a handshake and a smile.
  2. DO greet everyone present, including kids, and start with the most elderly.
  3. DON'T shake hands with your left hand.
  4. DO shake hands again upon departing.

7. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO expect to be given a seat and a glass of water to drink when visiting a Ghanaian's home. You then might be asked the purpose of your visit.

8. Business Meeting

  1. DO make an appointment for a meeting in advance, preferably between September and April.
  2. DON'T be late to any business appointments!

9. Photo Etiquette

  1. DON'T take pictures of sacred grounds without permission.
  2. DON'T take pictures at the State House, prisons, airports, etc.
  3. DO ask someone before taking their picture. Usually they will happily say yes, though some might try to charge you a fee. Sometimes people will worry that you might capture their soul if you photograph them, so be aware of that and always seek permission before taking a picture of someone.

10. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO move up to a chief or king when invited to greet him, and then stop a bit in front of him and bow. You may also be invited for a handshake.
  2. DON'T speak directly to a king or chief. You may communicate through a linguist called "Okyeame."
  3. DO offer a gift to a chief or king, such as Schnapps or gin. Money is also acceptable.

In Ghana, most people are incredibly patient and hospitable, and many enjoy having people visit their country. However, in order to blend in a little better and respect the customs and Ghana's heritage, keep the above etiquette in mind. Have a wonderful trip!

 
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