Lessons Learned: You Will Be Changed

Let's Be Mormon or Ghanaian!

Let’s Be Ghanaian or Mormon!

Expect that you will be changed by Ghana more than Ghana will be changed by you.

Considering how much I don’t like how things are done here, I am constantly on guard for relinquishing my American habits to Ghanaian ones.

Nonetheless, the longer I live here, the more I accept that I will slowly become more Ghanaian over time.

Here are some signs that I’m losing it:

1. I actually think Ghanaian food is not THAT bad.  Soon you’ll see me eating rice and soup with my hands!  Yendidi (you’re invited)!

2. I reject the under size 2 standard of beauty of the West and the size 0 standard of beauty of Asia. This is good for Shirley because no matter how big she gets, I will always think she is beautiful. Check out the range of the women in this video:

What’s the big deal with Miley Cyrus and twerking?  These ladies have been twerking for years.

3. I am becoming more spiritual, if not religious.  Due to unforeseen circumstances, God has entered my life.

4. I want four children instead of two.   I’m convinced the dearth of night-life activities results in unnecessarily large families.  Except for our last office manager, every person in our office is one child of four or more children.  One of our former salesladies was one of ten children.  I think the father had two wives but still!  Think of all the school fees, uniforms, books, clothes, food.  Our other driver has four children.

5. I will answer to “Kweku”. I was born on Wednesday so my “day name” is “Kweku”.  This is the name I give to people who cannot pronounce my real name.  Actually, it’s “Chinese Kweku” because I look Chinese and I was born on Wednesday.

6. I only feel safe behind a guard, high walls with electrical wire, and bars on the windows.

7. All problems can be solved with a dash (tip).  For instance, our motorbike has been having problems the last couple of weeks.  Our driver has had to push the bike miles to the office in the dark.  I dashed him 20 cedis and he was a happy camper.

8. I figured out how to do azonto. This doesn’t mean I will be the dancing monkey at the club, though.

9. I’ve incorporated English words used in Ghana that I normally wouldn’t use, e.g. “serious”, “small small”, because it’s what Ghanaians understand

10. I love Ghanaian/Nigerian music!  The themes are basic… have fun and look at all the bouncing balls.

Signs That I’m Still American

1. I value my time. I believe that “7:30 is 7:30” which means be there at 7:30am sharp.

2. I keep my word.  If I know in advance I can’t pay you, I won’t be there, or I can’t do something, I’ll let you know now rather than after the agreed upon time.

3. I will not tear down a friend even if he is doing better than me.

4. I will work until the task is done to the best of my ability.

5. Life and work is not a zero-sum game (more on this in another post)

6. I experiment and try new things


  1. I like the idea of creating a blog where one can share their experiences. Well done! However, I felt that you gave quite an unhelpful view about Ghana. Indeed the blog was devised to highlight your experience but I was wondering if you had any helpful experiences. I am more curious why you have stayed so long based on what you have shared for us.
    Thank you
    Dr Funke

  2. “Becoming more Ghanaian” is not “losing it” …it is called assimilating, something I would have thought an American would appreciate, considering your country is a melting pot.
    Further, signs that you are “still American” are not necessary, as you can never completely integrate, no matter how hard you try (which you make clear you are resisting, rather). We are creatures of habit and some habits truly cannot be broken. As for your list, these can be seen in many a Ghanaian, as well as can be missing from many an American …not sure these are American traits. Except for the first one.

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