Ghanaians vs Nigerians: Sibling Rivalry

“Nigerian” is a four-letter word in Ghana.

Nigerians are blamed for robberies, cyber crime, scams, and all manner of problems.  Despite initially coming to work for Nigerians, I was often warned to beware of them.  Kofi, a lawyer I met, warned, “They cannot be trusted.”  I know many Nigerians who lie about their nationality and companies run by Nigerians who lie about their ownership to avoid being tarnished by the reputation of their people.

Nearly three years later, I can say that the only people who have tried to screw me are Ghanaians.  They introduced me to cyber crime/identity theft, gold scams; most people I know who have been robbed had Ghanaian perpetrators.  Of course, I live in Ghana.  My Ghanaian customers frequently “play dumb” about terms of service and are always itching for me to do something extra for them.  My lawyer friend calls Ghanaians, “Nigerians with a smile.”  In other words, you should not let your guard down for either of them.

This distrustful relationship Ghanaians have toward Nigerians can be attributed to sibling rivalry.  Ghana and Nigeria are the two most prominent Anglophone countries in West Africa.

Generally, Ghana is known for being more stable, more peaceful, and an easier place to live.  Ghanaians are also darker, shorter, and the women are described as having the African ideal of beauty — the Coca-Cola bottle — curvy, with the bottom wider than the top.  Ghanaians are also know for being more insular, more easy-going, and more tight-fisted when it comes to money.  As my taxi driver friend explains, a Ghanaian who has money will claim poverty to avoid helping a friend in need.

A Nigerian female friend was complaining that she went out on a date with a Ghanaian.  She had some complimentary movie tickets and thought that perhaps he would offer to buy her some popcorn.  No such luck.  She also offered that when she used to go to the club with her friends that the Ghanaian men would wait for her to buy her own drinks before approaching her.

In contrast, Nigeria is nearly the opposite of Ghana – less stable, less peaceful, and a more difficult place to live due to higher crime, more inter-tribal tension, and more corruption.  Nigeria’s bursting population of 150-170 million is responsible for most of its character.  It’s like a “black China.”  Having that many people — about half the US population — live in an area the size of Texas plus Oklahoma combined would make any group of people more aggressive, clever, and quick.

The people who hired me to work in Ghana also sent me on a three-day visit to Lagos, Nigeria.  (Because I had an escort, I had a stress-free visit.)  Lagos has a population of 24 million — all of Ghana in one city — and people walked fast, intersections were crowded with cars and commercial motorbikes (okada), and I saw scores of people everywhere.  Unlike Ghanaians, Nigerians are not known to marry across tribal or religious groups.  Nigeria is known for religious fighting and inter-tribal tensions.

Miss Universe Contestants: Miss Ghana (left) Hanniel Jamin, Miss Nigeria (right) Stephanie Okwu

Miss Universe Contestants: Miss Ghana (left) Hanniel Jamin, Miss Nigeria (right) Stephanie Okwu

Nigerians as a group are taller, come in a greater variety of shapes and sizes, and are louder.  Even though Ghanaian women are known for the African ideal, I personally think the likelihood of seeing a beautiful Nigerian is higher.

Nigerians are famous for being big spenders.  I wish all my customers were Nigerian. I never have to negotiate price or payment with them.  A handful of people have tried to explain why.  The same Nigerian woman mentioned above said Nigerians have a saying, “the more you spend, the greater your desire to make more money.”

Another friend said that Nigerians have a “big tent” view toward taking care of friends and family. They aren’t looking at their immediate family but nearly everyone around them.  That’s why they go to the club and buy bottles and spend lavishly.  I think naturally tight-fisted Ghanaians perceive Nigerians as extravagant and show-offs.

The other thing to consider is that the elite Nigerians are wealthier than the elite Ghanaians.  Nigeria has a population six times greater than Ghana and substantial oil wealth.  I heard that a governor of a Nigerian state makes $3 million per year from both legal and illegal sources.  When I told someone that US President Obama only makes $400,000, he didn’t believe it.  The fact that Nigeria’s market is much bigger than Ghana’s could explain why Nigerians are bigger tippers and bigger spenders.

Aliko Dangote, Nigerian, Africa's richest man

Aliko Dangote, Nigerian, Africa’s richest man

The richest and many of the richest men in Africa are from Nigeria.  (I met Oba Otudeko #33 when I visited Lagos.) There are no Ghanaians in the top 50.

Forbes List (Full List):

  1. Aliko Dangote – $20.9 billion – Nigeria
  2. Johann Rupert & Family – $7.9 billion – South Africa
  3. Nicky Oppenheimer & Family – $6.6 billion – South Africa
  4. Nassef Sawiris – $5.9 billion – Egypt
  5. Mike Adengua – $4.6 billion – Nigeria
  6. Christoffel Wiese – $3.8 billion – South Africa
  7. Isabel dos Santos – $3.5 billion – Angola
  8. Issad Rebrab – $3.2 billion – Algeria
  9. Mohamed Mansour – $3.1 billion – Egypt
  10. Othman Benjelloum – $2.8 billion – Morocco

In addition to having a more peaceful and stable country, Ghana can claim one additional area of superiority: football.  Ghana’s team is frequently considered the best in Africa.

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10 comments

  1. Jean paul zokora

    Hahah nice article. But ghanians are tall bro, dont forget that Ghana is country with different etnicities and some etnicities are really tall. Just like the ivorians, ghanians have the same etnicities, langues and culture and the ivorians are known for being tall. And most them of are not darker some etnicties are known for being lighter in Ghana just as the Igbo in Nigeria on average gh composes the same varaty of skincolors like nigeria and any west african country. But cote d ivoire where i am from is ecxatly the same as Ghana our twin sister counrty. Akwaba / Bienvanue

    • Ama

      That’s not true, Jean. Ghana and Ivory Coast are not the same. I’m Ghanaian and I can clearly tell that you’re wrong with a majority of your statements. GH doesn’t have the same ethnic groups as IC like you stated.

      • Kwame

        Ama … are you kidding me?
        “Ghana and Ivory Coast are not the same. GH doesn’t have the same ethnic groups as IC like you stated.”
        Ama, do you know anything about Ghanaian history?? Are you sure your name is “Ama”? Are sure you are Ghanaian??? Omg. Ghanaian educational system is in trouble.

  2. Pierre Yves Konan

    Ama jean is telling the truth the majority of the Ivory Coast is Akan, ( Baoule,Nzema,Bron,Anyi,Attie, Fanti etc.) the same Akan that also live in Ghana. but specifcally some different tribes but still all Akan. In the IC these tribes are known for being tall aswel as the Mandinka, senoufo, Mossi etc. some of them also live in the North of ghana , were there are alot of tall people. Just look at the africa cup finals boye and bailey where the same heigt, the keeper of ghana was also very tall. so yea ivory coast and ghana are 80% the same in culture and langues just different nations and to some extend a little bit different etnicty make up but that is it so far.

    we also have names like
    Kouame / Kwame
    Assamoi / Asamoah
    Kouassi / Kwesi ( like gervinho his real name is gervais yao kouassi / in gh it would be gervais yaw kwesi
    Kouadio/ Kodjo
    Adjoa / Adwua
    Ahoussou/ Owusu
    Konan / Konadu
    ama / ama.

    And many more names ….. we are the same people from the majority same etnicity nothing different. Ivorians are known for their tallnes aswel as Ghanians, the ones i meet especialy 2 generation are realy tall 6,3 , 6,5 ,6,2 ft etc just like alot africans in France.
    ahah is see ghanians as anglophone ivorians we speak all time boaule for example is dialect of ashanti twi so yeah.

  3. Pierre Yves Konan

    I forgot to mention that a few ghanians i met where also second genaration ghanians but with Nigerian Yoruba ,Igbo, Edo and alot of Hausa grandparent or one Parent that is a Nigerian born and raised in Ghana. a friend told me that sulley muntari father is of Nigerian Ghanian Hausa decent. Also met alot of Nigerians in Paris alot of them are very dark but not as dark choclate as the senegalese ( these people are born tall as a infant 🙂

  4. zayidalaia@yahoo.com

    Typically don’t leave comments on websites that I don’t frequent, but I must say it is downright pathetic that you use “dark” as a disparaging term. Nigerians keep complaining of “dark” Ghanaians when a fair share of them bleach their skin and without said bleach would be as dark, if not darker than “Ghanaians” Additionally, not all Ghanaians are dark and if they are, of course they would be. Ghana is near the equator it is blistering hot over there and anyone who lives in Ghana for a while adapts the “darker skin tone” by default. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being dark, it is a formulation, protection and magnet for the Sun. If a white person were to make said comments they would be deemed “racists.” In my humble and honest opinion, Ghanaians are by far “better than” Nigerians, from their appearer (looks, physique) to their food, music, history, and culture. LOL and its funny that you would state the richest Africans are Nigerians, when roughly 90% of the accumulated wealth is by nefarious means. I rather be poor with a pure heart and sound mind, then to be rich, wicked and no my ultimate destination is the fiery pits of hell, in that sense my “wealth here on earth” is short lived.

    • YommyD

      I don’t think Obolobo used Ghanaians being darker as a disparaging characteristic, it is just a description.
      Yes, Ghanaians are darker based on your explanation above. There is no need to feel bad about this. But you are too self righteous to see beyond your poor nose and have quickly named Nigerians skin bleachers and owners of nefarious wealth. Having lived in Ghana for 8 years, you and I know that Ghana as been more than blessed by our hardworking contribution. Yes, you will deny it but deep down you know this is true.

    • Lilian

      I agree with u. they always refer to other pple as darker when they lead the world in skin bleaching. in Nigeria the number of natural black women is so low since 99 percent have opted for skin bleaching.

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