“The wonderful diversity of natural attractions, historical heritage and the vibrant cultural identity offers visitors of Ghana a microcosmic taste of Africa. Known for the hospitality and friendliness of the people, Ghana is an obvious first port of call … to the African continent.” The above quote is how the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) sums up, on their portal, the need to visit Ghana. And as they rightly put it, there must be a reason to travel, more so as a tourist.
They outline 10 reasons to choose Ghana over any other African country, viz: Friendly people, Traditional Ghanaian Hospitality, Cultural Tourism, Diversified Tourism Resource Base, Natural Beauty, Peaceful and stable, Home Away from Home, Unique Traditional and Social Events, Sea Sun and Sand and Sustainable Tourism. I conclude this series, still ‘searching’ the things that make us Ghanaians, who we are. Having explored our identity in our music and our socialisation process, I have a hunch, our hospitality, as a people will go unchallenged as a typical Ghanaian trait. And this is evident in the list above.
Defining Ghanaian Hospitality Hospitality is generally associated with the generous and friendly reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. And it has come to be associated with words like helpfulness, neighbourliness, warmth, kindness, generosity, among others. Thus, will it be out of place to say the Ghanaian is hospitable? Haven’t we, as a people worn that ‘mask’ and given ourselves tags like ‘proverbial Ghanaian hospitality’, ‘traditional hospitality’, etc.? It goes to say that it is ingrained in us, as a people to help each other and extend a high level of generosity to one another.
Yes, our socialisation process, one that is traditionally embedded gave room for such civility to be exhibited to even aliens, people we did not know from anywhere. However, is this the same today? If it isn’t, do we still maintain the hospitable nature of the Ghanaian as a huge national asset that is worth visiting Ghana to experience? Or it is our docility or our smartness that forces us to accept others, regardless of who they are, and the form in which they appear, so far as there is a benefit somewhere for the host? Or is it the accommodative nature of the Ghanaian that sees everything good once it isn’t from their own stock?
Pleasing others I am sometimes tempted to believe that a trait common to most Ghanaians is our attempt to please ourselves, please one another and please everybody. And this has brought the imitative spirit of people alive by seeing anything good in what others do, and not what they do themselves. That is the hospitable spirit. Check out how we follow trends. One person does something, and everybody follows. We hardly have leaders; everybody wants to be led. Innovation is spited, and conformists are hailed.
Our Warmth In spite of everything, the Ghanaian is warm. Fact! Dear visitor to Ghana, we are a nice people to associate with. We will make you feel at home with all we do. When the AKWAABA ushers you into Ghana, either at the airport or at the many borders, we mean to tell you we are in tune with our traditions, and greetings are part of us. Sorry, when you settle, we are kind and accommodating enough to ‘spite’ our language and project others. Strain to get the greetings in any local language in the cities, and you won’t be surprised “Good morning/ afternoon/ evening” is much a local or indigenous greeting.
When you are settled and want to enjoy radio and television, scan through, and you will feel more at home than even the Ghanaian would feel. We play a lot of foreign songs, and speak like the foreigner. Content on radio and television is more foreign driven. You may be bored though, because, for TV, the content is something that your people have discarded decades ago. If they are fresh, at all, you get the opportunity to watch it at prime time instead of the ‘dead hour’ you would have gotten to watch while at home. Aren’t we caring? Love reggae/ dancehall? The reggae DJ would ordinarily not play to meet the expectations of the Ghanaian, but in all his mimicry, thinks he has a Jamaican audience to satisfy! So Jamaican visitor, you are home! Dear visitor, our warmth is also reflective in our edifice. The heritage sites are all still reflective of the past.
You see, we maintain originality. On your numerous tours to the forts and castles, don’t be surprised about the names you are introduced to—Christiansburg, Sebastian, Apollonia, Metal Cross, Good Hope, Orange, Friederichsburg, Batenstein, among others. Our seat of Government is the Flagstaff House. And please don’t ask me if it reflects anything Ghanaian. You know it has foreign origin. You may also relive the lives of some foreign heroes by visiting the DuBois Center, George Padmore Library and the Victoria Parks.
As you visit these places, dear visitor, take a careful look at our streets. We are doing well now trying to name them. However, the most prominent streets are tailored to make sure the foreigner is at home. As you stroll, you will come across George Bush and Obasanjo Highways, Lagos Avenue, Augusto Tito and Amilcar Cabral Roads, among others. What of the suburbs we live? Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Russia, Jerusalem, La Paz, Apapa, Hong Kong, Madina, are real in Ghana. Aren’t we hospitable? I am sure, by now, there isn’t a reason not to love Ghana. And surely if you are a music fan, the Ghanaian musician makes you love them more.
They are mindful of the fact that local names may be a mouthful to pronounce, hence they have couched their names to make you ok. Check out how they corrupt the local names and give them a foreign flavor. You may already be familiar with the Quophis, the Cwesis, and the Quarmes. Don’t be surprised, Chinese and Jamaican visitors to meet the Black Chinese and Kwahu Bob Marley in Ghana. Ghana certainly is a place to be. We are a unique people. Love or hate us for who or what we are. Those things make us Ghanaians. And what is our culture? Our Culture is the way things are done here!