ETIQUETTE

ETIQUETTE

Ghanaians place great emphasis on politeness, hospitality, and formality. Upon meeting, acquaintances must shake hands and ask about each other’s health and families. Visitors to a house must greet and shake hands with each family member. They are then seated and greeted in turn by all present. Hosts must normally provide their guests with something to eat and drink, even if the visit does not occur at a mealtime. If a person is returning from or undertaking a long journey, a libation to the ancestors is usually poured. If someone is eating, he or she must invite an unexpected visitor to join him or her. Normally, an invitation to eat cannot be refused.

Friends of the same age and gender hold hands while walking. Great respect is attached to age and social status. A younger person addresses a senior as father or mother and must show appropriate deference. It is rude to offer or take an object or wave with the left hand. It is also rude to stare or point at people in public. Such English words as “fool(ish),” “silly,” or “nonsense,” are highly offensive and are used only in extreme anger.

 

—BRIAN SCHWIMMER