5 Things Tourists Shouldn’t do in Ghana

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Traveling to a foreign country can be a bit of a conflicting experience. What can you and can you not do? What can you get into trouble for doing? Of course asides the usual of standard crimes. What cultural taboos are acknowledge and what do you have to refrain from doing to earn the love and trust of your hosts.

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The Ghanaians are very easy going and accommodating people, and for foreigners, they’ll readily give excuses for you knowing you are not familiar with what is acceptable and what isn’t. But to go a step further and to be the best guest ever, here are some of the things to avoid doing when in Ghana.

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Don’t use your left hand

In Ghana, handing out anything with your left hand is considered a bad habit. The right hand is the good hand, the left hand is the bad hand. So be it handshakes, money, gifts or food, you neither receive or give anything with your right hand. Safe to say that southpaws are considered, abnormal but you will find so very few of them as it is often corrected from childhood with smacks every time the child uses the left hand to receive or give something.

Ask for permission before taking photos

Ghanaians love to pose for their pictures. Be it in the market or on the street. As a tourist, as much as you would love to take pictures of day to day life in Ghana, be sure to take permission from the subject of your photography before proceeding to shoot. If you wan’t the shot to be taken mid-action while they are on about their activities, tell them as much. Just make sure that they are aware otherwise you may be mildly harassed and asked to delete the picture from your camera roll and asked to take another one, properly this time.

Don’t smoke in public

You would find Ghanaians smoking in nightclubs, lounges and bars once nightfall descends but don’t take this for an open acceptance of smoking in public. Ghanaians frown upon smoking in public places such as the street walk and markets. People will pass by you and spit at the ground to register their displeasure of you polluting the air that everyone is commonly breathing. If you need a fix so bad, find a pub or lounge to smoke in or a bathroom stall.

Smelling/Sniffing food

Don’t smell what you won’t eat. That’s a common saying across Sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana in particular it is considered very rude and offensive to sniff food, to perceive it’s freshness, flavour, or whatever else reason that the guest may have for smelling the food. It communicates a lack of trust that what has been offered is not good enough or probably stale. In order not to piss of your host or servers, please do not sniff at food offered you under any circumstances, if you aren’t sure about its preserved quality you can simply decline the food from the get go.

Make small talk

There is no going straight to the business with Ghanaians. It is appropriate whether meeting for business or pleasure to engage in small talk before starting the order of the business of the day. Asking about your acquaintance day, family, their health and business before delving into the matter on ground is considered good practice and shows that you wish them well and care about their well being. So while you may be the pragmatic straight shooter, with Ghanaians, you have to do the dance first before you get right into it. Which is great because this shows the warm and amiable spirit that Ghanaians generally possess.

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