Ghanaians are very particular about the dos and don’ts in their culture,
so when not sure and in order not to offend anyone, you may have a chat
with some of the people, who are mostly friendly, helpful and an invaluable
source of information. These days some of these previously strong cultural
views are changing. For e.g. In the past, older folks were not very happy
to see woman dressed in shorts or trousers (slacks), these days however,
trousers are worn by older women themselves. But there are still some
views that remain strong. For e.g. when sitting in the presence of eminent
people or elders, it is considered rude to sit cross-legged. Below are
a few of the things that you should be aware of.
Dressing: Visitors are held in very high esteem in our society and it is expected that they exhibit an acceptable standard of dressing and decorum. You are expected, if wearing a hat or cap, to remove it when speaking with an elderly person. That shows your outward respect for our traditions.
Handshaking: When entering a group of people, shake hands with those present beginning with the person on the right moving towards the left. It is also customary if you eat with your fingers, to do so only with your right hand. For those of who are naturally left-handed it will require constant effort to always remember to offer or give things especially money with the right hand.
Meeting Kings or Chiefs: There are other etiquettes that you need to observe, when you are invited to greet a chief or the king. They enjoy receiving foreigners and interacting with them for example if you visit a chief and want to greet him, move upwards at him and stop short of a from where he is seated and bow. He may graciously invite you to come for a handshake.
On formal occasions, speaking to the king, or chief, at the royal court is a three-way affair through a spokesman (linguist) called “Okyeame” who replicates the conversation. The visitor faces the Okyeame and delivers his message to the chief. The chief gives his reply or response to the Okyeame who renders it to the visitor. N.B. Normally, visitors to our palaces have to make customary offerings of friendship to their royal hosts. This consist entirely of drinks: Aromatic Schnapps, Gin and or money, the amount and quantities depending on the size or enthusiasm of the group. Kola is also accepted in some places.
Taking Photographs: Before taking pictures of people always ask permission from them before doing so, especially in the Muslim parts of the country. Apart from the fact that some people do not like being photographed., in some places you might even be asked to pay money.
Take note that there are some sensitive places where you are not allowed to photograph. To be on the safe side just from the people around if it is ok to take pictures