Social conduct in Ghana
Individual conduct is seen as having impact on an entire family, social group and community; therefore, everyone is expected to be respectful, dignified and observant in public settings and in most every aspect of life.
When greeting people in a home, it is considered improper if the guest ignores any person present. Guests are expected to acknowledge and greet every person at a social occasion, including children and babies.
When shaking hands, it is appropriate for the guest to first greet the person on his or her right-hand side, and work his or her way left. This ensures that the guest's palm makes contact with the palm of the person receiving the handshake - touching the back of the hand instead of the palm is considered insulting or unlucky. Guests are expected to begin by greeting the most elderly person present.
The same ritual is expected to be observed upon leaving as well as arriving, and should be carried out until sufficient familiarity has been established, at which point the ritual becomes redundant.
When greeting dignitaries, this procedure is expected to be carried out by all persons present, regardless of age or status.
Asking a person to a social event (e.g. a bar or restaurant) implies that the person offering the invite will be paying for everything. Inviting a person out and then expecting them to pay for their own drinks, etc. is considered extremely rude. When an outsider is invited to visit a home or community, the foreign guest(s) are expected to take a gift which usually a bottle of Schnapps or Kasapreko gin, easily available in all shops. It is very unusual for a woman to be seen in the public with unusual dress on.
If attending a funeral, women (including foreigners) must cover their heads with a hat or simple black cloth wound around the head. A man must not have his head covered. The same applies to weddings and naming ceremonies.
It is unacceptable for women, particularly young foreign women, to wear clothes of a revealing nature. Female clothing that would be acceptable in the West (shorts, low-cut strapped tops, etc.) is not socially acceptable in Ghanaian society. Similarly, it is unacceptable for foreign men to be shirtless in public, and also unacceptable for Ghanaian men, to a lesser degree. Ghanaian social norms are sometimes difficult to establish, as younger adults are generally much less inhibited about wearing revealing clothing or being shirtless, while older Ghanaian citizens may find such apparel on Ghanaians, and foreigners of any nationality or race, to be insulting. A general rule is to dress conservatively, unless in the company of people of one's own gender or age, with whom one is well-acquainted.
Drinking alcohol and smoking in public are serious faux pas among Ghanaians, and should be avoided, both by Ghanaians and foreigners. Public intoxication to any degree is generally viewed with extreme disapproval. Such activities, though, are perfectly acceptable in a local bar ("spot"). When drinking alcohol, it is a common custom among Ghanaians to pour the last few drops on the ground as a libation for the gods. People who decline from drinking alcohol may accept an alcoholic drink with gratitude, raise it to their lips without drinking, and pour it upon the ground. Raising the glass to the lips signifies gratitude; pouring the drink away is thus a socially acceptable alternative for those who do not drink. This custom permits non-drinking Ghanaians to join social events without offending those present by refusing a drink.
Taking photographs of people unknown to the photographer must be conducted with the same level of consideration as in one's own country. Most Ghanaians are happy to pose for pictures, as it is considered polite.
- "About Ghana – Social Conduct". africayouthinaction.org. Retrieved 16 January 2012.