Visitors Survival Guide!

Greeting is an important social function that marks an open heart and mind. It also expresses one's concern for the other. Refusing or failing to greet another person may indicate that you either harbour ill will or do not care for the other's welfare.

Do not forget that the smile is also a form of greeting. Please make an effort to pick up some of our simple vernacular greeting forms and win our hearts over.

Greeting Equivalent in Akan
Please Mepaokyew
Good Morning Maache
Good Afternoon Maa ha
Good Evening Maa - Adjo
Good Night Da-Yie
Farewell Nantee-yie
Welcome Akwaaba
Thank you Medaase

A handshake is a popular way of greeting in Ghana, especially among males. When you shake hands, please apply the same hand pressure as is offered.

When you are shaking hands with a number of people, start from the extreme right and proceed towards the left.

Use of the Left Hand
The left hand has limited functions in Ghana. In fact the use of the left hand for certain activities is considered an anathema. That is one reason why, when our men wear traditional cloth, we throw the fabric over the left hand. In particular avoid receiving or giving, gesticulating in speech, waving at a person or pointing things out with the left hands.

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.

Dress Code
Ghanaians consider it respectful to dress decently for social functions especially for visits to the palaces. It is considered disrespectful to attend such functions in crumpled dirty clothes, T-shirts, unkept hair.

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 and decorum.

If you are wearing a hat or cap, please remove it when speaking with an elderly person. That shows your outward respect for our traditions.

Palace Etiquette
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 time immemorial.

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 the group.