Ghana may have all the trappings of modernity, but there are some village habits that we can’t let go of. Namely livestock in the city: the majority being chickens and goats and, in the lead up to religious celebrations, full-sized cows can be seen grazing by the dual carriageways. They are sometimes herded by farmers who have brought them to Ghana to trade but sometimes they are without any supervision at all, crossing roads at will, which can be a challenge! You’ll also see goats trawling roadsides and pavements, scavenging for any natural produce and generally reminding us that old habits die hard.
Herbalists are a Cedi a dozen in Ghana, so it would make sense that to get ahead of the competition, you would invest much into your first point of contact with the public – your advertising signage. A myriad of ailments can always be found to be graphically depicted in these attempts to get clients, with some versions cruder and more graphic than others!
The tro-tro (minivan) is the transportation of choice for the proletariat in Ghana, and pastors and preachers are job titles that many take on who are looking to spread the popular word of the Bible. It then follows that public transport would eventually be invaded by these preachers who are looking for an audience, and perhaps money in donations, too. Depending on your views, these preachers are either deeply annoying space-invaders, or people of God helping to guide others to the light. Either way, make sure you wear a visible pair of headphones and play your favourite music, which will give you a choice of whether or not to engage!
It’s amazing what a few minutes at a red light sat in a car can produce: a good portion of your weekly shopping if you desire. From toilet rolls and bread, men’s shoes and Scrabble sets, wall clocks to life-sized devotional portraits of Jesus, matches to washing powder and meat pies, traffic shopping is a very real occurrence at almost every major interchange in the cities of Ghana. Roads are shared equally by people and hawkers who deftly navigate the changing of lights and their major scourge: motorcycles that zip and weave between cars, threatening the stability and balance of these brave vendors who usually carry their wares on top of their heads.
A Ghanaian funeral is unlike most others. For a start, they are not private affairs – the larger the crowd, the more prestigious the person’s life – so you are likely to encounter many people who perhaps knew of the deceased, but did not know him directly. Secondly, they are more cause for celebration with a feast provided by the family (along with a take-home doggy bag), a DJ or band and of course, professional wailers if the person’s prestige requires more tears to emphasise their importance. Funerals are also known as places to network. These affairs usually last all day after being planned for months, and in some cases, years, with the deceased being kept in cold storage until the family gets together the large amount of funds needed to send them off in style.