Monday, July 27, 2009

Culture Smart

Values & Attitudes - Part I

Ghanaian values and attitudes can be summed up by taking a peek at the proverbs they have created within their local languages. Ghanaian proverbs are used widely to impart wisdom, and being skilled in the use of proverbs is a highly respected quality. Ghanaian proverbs, stories and knowledge have been passed down from generation to generation.

Here are some sample proverbs (in bold), along with how they are put into practice in Ghana:

If two people carry a log, it does not press hard on their heads.
A person is not a palm tree that he should be self-sufficient.
You cannot tie a knot without using your thumb.
Mutual help and collective responsibility are important in Ghana. Everybody in a community or extended family will know, and show an interest in the affairs of everybody else. The idea that you could live next to a neighbor for years without knowing his name, as can happen in the West, is completely alien to Ghanaians. From birth, a Ghanaian is a social being who does not, and will not, live in isolation from other people. A babysitter is never needed. The elderly are never lonely or isolated.

Treat your guest as a guest for two days, and on the third day give him a hoe.
Foreign visitors will find Ghanaians showing an interest in their well-being and day-to-day lives, and will receive numerous invitations to meals, parties and hometowns. Visits, invitations, and gifts given in appreciation are intended to be a gesture to the foreign visitor as tokens of friendship and symbols of peace.

Nothing is as painful as when one dies without leaving a child behind.
There is no wealth when there are no children.
In Ghana, marrying and bearing children are more than expectations; they are considered requirements and obligations to society. Childless couples are considered selfish and abnormal, and do not gain respect or even sometimes a proper funeral. Inability for a woman to bear a child (which is seen as her primary responsibility) is the grounds for a divorce or the taking of a second wife.

Absence does not bring up a child.
Children are extremely respectful and obliging to their parents and all elders. 'Getting caned' is the term used for the discipline tactic of what we know in the West as spankings....instead of using a wooden spoon or something of the sort, Ghanaian parents use sugar canes for administering 'spankings'. Anybody in a Ghanaian community who witnesses a child misbehaving will have no hesitation in rebuking them before taking them back to their parents for more of the same. In Ghana, a child has the opportunity to learn from and be cared for by dozens of near relatives. It is not uncommon for a child to live with an uncle, aunt, or grandparent rather than his or her parents.

Excerpts and information from the book: Ghana Culture Smart - the essential guide to customs & culture

1 comment:

Lori said...

I love these sayings...especially about the guest in the home for 2 days; then give him a hoe! LOVE IT.