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19.12.2008 Feature Article

Culture Smart! Ghana

Culture Smart! Ghana
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There is a tendency in the Western media to report only the negative aspects of Africa. The picture received is generally one of complete underdevelopment, primitive living conditions, famine, HIV/AIDS, war, and political mismanagement. Tellingly, Ghana is one of the African countries that receives very little, if any, media coverage.

Ghana, however, is a country with a rapidly growing reputation and currently welcomes around half a million tourists, aid workers, and business travelers per year. These visitors invariably come away with glowing reports of “the Gateway to Africa”: a country of scenic beauty, rich culture and traditions, and a plethora of tourist attractions. For visitors coming from developed countries with their associated problems of crime, antisocial behavior, family breakdown, disrespectful children, unfriendliness, loneliness, high cost of living, and terrible weather, Ghana comes as a wonderfully refreshing change, with valuable lessons to teach to the outside world.

It is primarily the people of Ghana who make the biggest impression. It is due to their incredible hospitality and love of peace that Ghana has a claim to be the safest and friendliest country in Africa. Ghanaians are very welcoming to foreign guests, respectful to each other, strong followers of tradition, and have deep familial and communal values.

A visit to Ghana is highly recommended for those looking for a different kind of vacation, and is a life-changing and eye-opening experience. It is not, however, without its downsides, and visitors do experience frustrations and barriers (which reading this book should help to disperse). Less impressive aspects include the roads, sanitation, timekeeping, and customer service. Ghanaians like to do things their own way, and Ghana is a proud country that does not cater exclusively to tourists but rather expects them to fit in with the Ghanaian pace and way of life.

Culture Smart! Ghana aims to enable visitors to appreciate Ghana, while at the same time showing respect for its inhabitants. Visitors are warmly welcomed, but Ghanaians will require these visitors to be sympathetic to their customs and beliefs, and will have no hesitation in saying, “We don't do that here,” should a faux pas be made or a taboo broken. It is important to Ghanaians that they, and their guests, follow certain rules and codes of conduct. Culture Smart! Ghana will describe these rules, explain where they come from, and offer the reader an opportunity to get under the skin of Ghanaians and enjoy all that this beautiful country has to offer. Show respect and you will, without a doubt, be made to feel welcome.

This is the introduction to Culture Smart! Ghana, published in 2009 by Kuperard, London

Ian Duncan Utley
Ian Duncan Utley, © 2008

The author has 7 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: IanDuncanUtley

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