What really counts is the way you receive people. If properly
done, your guests will be honored; failure to do so leaves an
indelible impression. Showing respect is important, especially
to older people. Though they appreciate attempts to understand
their way of life, Ghanaians (especially those living in the
villages) are conservative people and respect traditional courtesies;
and they also are quick to detect insincerity. Be friendly.
Handshaking using the right hand only is the usual form of greeting.
Do not forget that the smile is also a form of greeting. Please
make an effort to pick up some of Ghanaian simple vernacular
in "Akan" Dialect
Ghanaians place much value on dressing and consider it disrespectful
to dress inappropriately at various functions. Some tips: White
is usually worn at weddings or naming ceremonies, dark cloth
at funerals (varies with each ethnic group).
Ghanaians should always be addressed by their formal titles
unless they specifically request otherwise.
Use only the right hand for giving or accepting gifts or any
other thing. Use of the left hand will offend.
The left hand has limited functions in Ghana. In fact the use
of the left hand for certain activities is considered an anathema.
This is one reason why, when Ghanaian men wear traditional cloth,
they throw the fabric over the left shoulder to limit the freedom
of the left hand. In particular, avoid receiving or giving,
gesticulating in speech, waving at a person or pointing things
out with the left hand.
If you are naturally left handed, it is not your fault, and
it is no offence. But you can avoid public embarrassment of
complications by keeping something (e.g. your guide book, camera,
souvenir etc) in the left hand.
- Do not blow your nose while eating.
- Never sniff any food or beverage offered you.
- Younger ones must always relinquish their seats for older
ones when seats are unavailable.
- Take off your shoes when entering sacred ground and do
not take pictures without permission.
- When sitting with older or eminent people such as chiefs,
do not sit cross-legged.
- Remove hat or cap in the presence of older or eminent
people such as chiefs etc.
- Do not enter any house unless invited in.
- A welcome drink should always be accepted and at least
a sip should be taken.
Ghanaians consider it respectful to dress decently for social
functions especially for visits to the palaces. It is considered
disrespectful to attend social functions in crumpled dirty clothes,
T-shirts, unkept hair etc.
Our old folks are also not very happy to see a woman or lady
dressed in shorts or trousers (slacks). When sitting in the
presence of eminent people or elders, please do not sit cross-legged.
Visitors are held in very, very high esteem in our society and
we expect that you exhibit an acceptable standard of dressing
If you are wearing a hat or cap, please remove it when speaking
with an elderly person. That shows your outward respect for
Our chiefs enjoy receiving foreigners and interacting with them.
We have already told you about dressing to the palace. There
are other etiquettes that you need to observe. When you are
invited to greet a chief or the king, for example, move up towards
him and stop short a point from where he is seated, stop and
bow. He may graciously invite you to come for a handshake.
On formal occasions, we do not speak directly to the king, or
chief, for that matter communication 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. It
is that simple and interesting. This has been our practice from
N.B. Normally, visitors to our palaces have to make customary
offerings of friendship to their royal hosts. This consists
entirely of drinks: Aromatic Schnapps, Gin and / or money, the
amount and quantities depending on the size or enthusiasm of