My last and first article of this series was of the people of Taiwan. This was based of my experience during my half year exchange semester. Now I will share my experience about the people in Ghana. This will be based on the 4 months I run my own project there.
Before I start and share my experiences, I like to look at the research first. You can compare your own country with Ghana through the dimensions from Hofstede on his website. My comparison will be based on comparing Ghanaians with Dutch.
There are three main differences. First Ghanaians have way more respect for power. You will not argue with a police offer for example, while in the Netherlands everyone is equal and you can start an argument with everyone.
Secondly is the fact that Ghanaians are really group oriented. They take care of their family and community and you will not easily upset them. Me as a Dutch person am very individualistic and you will do the stuff you are happy about without taking others really into considerations.
The last thing is long term orientation. Ghana scores really low on this point. This just means they don’t look at the future and have difficulties with investment and planning for the future. There values are based on the past and the present.
My own experiences
Let me start to tell you how amazing Ghanaians are. They are so friendly and want to take care of you. This is the group feeling they have I guess.
Ameyaw, the guy I worked with in Ghana, invited me within 2 weeks already for his wedding and I was even his best man. Everyone I worked with wanted me to see their home place. So I visited a lot of rural areas just to have some dinners. Besides that I had a friend near the round-about who always wanted to hang out for dinner. Basically Ghanaians are really hospitable!
Ghanaians don’t know how to do business. I really don’t understand why everyone basically has the same kind of small shop and is selling exactly the same stuff and are able to survive. Everywhere were you will go you will see the same type of shop, and apparently they earn enough with it.
Personal relations are also more important than business. You will buy something from your friend because it is your friend, even when you can get it significantly cheaper and in better quality somewhere else.
For people that want to do business in Ghana I need to warn you. If you sell a product which requires investment and the benefits will be clear over the medium / long term people will not buy it. Even if it can improve their lives. People will not save for it and don’t see the benefits in the future. This is why it is difficult to sell tricycles to Ghanaian. They don’t see the benefit in the long run.
Another important factor is religion. So many people asked me if I believe in God. The floods in Accra where explained as the will of God. They don’t look for solutions to prevent this in the future, because it is explained as God will and you don’t change God’s will.
Travel tip for everyone
Everyone, especially white travellers, need to be aware of the following. Ghanaians want to marry you or they know a lot of other people that they want you to marry. I got so many proposals and I think the most funny one was the following in Nkoranza at a shop. The shop owner asked me if I wanted to marry her. When I explained her that I find her a bit too old, she asked me if I wanted to marry her daughter instead then. Her daughter was 11 so explained her that her daughter is a bit too young. Instead she started to search with someone else who I could marry.
The last thing I want to mention is the desire of easy money. In my time there were so called fun clubs. In our country it would be illegal because it is nothing more than a pyramid scheme. A lot of my Ghanaian friends lost their money because of those fun clubs. You can read more about it here.
In conclusion I can tell you for travellers Ghana is amazing. Of course you need to be aware of corruption. One police officer asked me once for money because he was protecting me by patrolling. But saying no was enough to get rid of him.
Besides that incident, Ghanaians want to connect with you. Want to convince you about God but they are also proud of their friends and family and they want you to be part of that. Connect with Ghanaians and you will have an amazing experience!