10 Surprising Things Considered Disrespectful In Ghanaian Society
Ghanaians are a very conservative people and still value greatly a lot of traditional beliefs.
There are however a lot of things we cluelessly do without knowing how impolite they are, until we find ourselves being scolded or rebuked.
As a Ghanaian or foreigner, these are some few things you need to be wary of when you find yourself in the company elders or leaders:
1. Chewing Gum
It is viewed as very disrespectful when you find yourself in the company of elders and you chew gum, you need to dispose it immediately. The worse case will be when you make a popping sound with it. You might even be thrown out amidst receiving insults.
2. Short or Skimpy Clothes
This is specific to those who wish to visit a chief or traditional ruler in Ghana. You can’t approach a chief in shorts for men and skimpy skirt for women; you will be ejected with haste. This even happened to a former U.S. president’s son who tried visiting Otumfour in shorts.
3. Crossed leg
Crossing your leg while sitting with an elder in a conversation is viewed as disrespectful in Ghana. You’ll be marked as pompous and rude. When this act in done in the presence of authority or the elderly, you’re most likely to be rebuked.
4. Wearing Shoes During Your Father’s Funeral
In Ghana, you can’t wear full shoes to your father’s funeral, your uncles and other relatives will be mad at you. You need to be in slippers (traditional). Wearing of shoes during a close relative’s funeral is interpreted as you being happy with the demise of said relative. Interestingly, wearing of slippers means you’re lamenting and suffering because of the loss.
5. Wearing A Watch To A Close Relative’s Funeral
In some cultures in Ghana, if a very close relative dies and you happen to be at the funeral, then it’s better you leave your watch at home otherwise, it’s most likely it’ll be seized. The notion is that, if you wear a watch, it means you’re in a hurry to leave the funeral grounds, which is viewed as unacceptable.
6. Greeting With The Left Hand
In Ghana, the left hand is viewed as ‘dirty’ and ‘unclean’. For instance, you can’t eat with your left hand, this you will learn at a very tender age (sometimes painfully). You’re not allowed to do a lot of things with the left hand; for example, pointing to or handing over an object with the left hand is really frowned upon. Ultimately, greeting someone who is in a higher in status is also considered very disrespectful. Even hailing a taxi with the left hand could be considered offensive and some drivers may not even stop.
7. Greeting When Attending The Loo
In Ghana, we take our greetings very seriously. However there are some caveats. It is disrespectful to greet on your way to the loo. This may cause a tricky dilemma in case you meet some elders on your way. You may not know which rule to obey.
The notion is that, the person visiting the loo might ‘ease themselves’ in the process when the he/she stops to exchange pleasantries. An ‘accident’ may occur when greeting process gets prolonged.
8. Wearing A Hat Or Cap In The Presence Of An Elder
You can’t wear a hat or cap whiles in the midst of elders, you will be greatly scorned. You need to take it off even before you enter their presence.
9. Standing With Arms Akimbo
It is traditionally disrespectful to stand with arms akimbo in front of an elder especially when they talking to you. Some strict disciplinarians are even likely to slap you for that.
10. Resting Your Cheeks In Your Hands
In many cultures, children or young folks who are still being cared for by their parents interestingly are not supposed to be seen publicly thinking orpondering or so it means. Resting your cheeks in your hands signifies a state of deep thought which is considered especially in Akan as “mpayinsem” (grown-folk business). This may lead you to get your “old man” offended.
NB: There are more of these taboos from many other tribes and we would love it if you could share yours with us.
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