Ghana Culture and Traditions

Along the Gulf of Guinea lies the beautiful West African country of Ghana. The Ghanaian culture and traditions are rich and vibrant. Keep reading to learn more about Ghana and the incredible people that call the country home.

Ghana people standing in front of a sandrock wall. The woman on the left is pointing at the camera, while both women smile.

What are the Ghanaian People Like?

The people of Ghana are warm and friendly. They are polite, open and trusting — even with strangers. In Ghanaian society, it is traditional to take life at a relaxed pace and view time as a series of events rather than a matter of hours or minutes.

Most Ghanaians consider “let’s get to business” conversations rude. It is custom for Ghanaians to exchange pleasantries and ask about family before beginning business.

They greet one another, making an extra effort to greet older people. With the men, handshakes almost always accompany greetings.

Ghanaian women in a hut smiling at the camera.

What is Ghanaian Culture Like?

Like most other African nations, Ghana has rich, traditional cultures that differ from one ethnic group to another. Ghana’s 24 million people include six major ethnic groups that break into more than 60 smaller ones. The six larger ethnic groups are the:

  • Akan (Ashanti and Fanti)
  • Ewe
  • Ga-Adangbe
  • Mole-Dagbani
  • Guan
  • Gruma

Until its independence, Ghana was known as the Gold Coast. It was renamed Ghana, meaning “Warrior King,” to reflect the ancient Ghana Empire that flourished in West Africa during the 10th century.

Today, the Ghanaian government is a unitary republic consisting of a president, parliament, cabinet, council of state and an independent judiciary. It is tradition to hold elections every four years.

The government administration operates out of the central business district of Accra, the country’s capital city. As the country’s largest city, Accra has a population of roughly 2.4 million.

Ghana is a Land of Festivals, Music and Traditional Dances

It is custom for most communities, clans and tribes to have annual celebrations.

There are three main types of music in Ghana. Ethnic, or traditional, music is usually played during festivals and funerals. Highlife music blends traditional and imported music. Choral music is performed in concert halls, churches, schools and colleges.

A Ghanaian child smiles while gazing into the distance. The child is wearing traditional Ghanaian clothing for a festive activity.
A boy wearing a bright orange and patterned shirt smiles while dancing. Other children can be seen in the background.
Ghanaian children singing while looking forward to the teacher.

Children registered at some of the Compassion-assisted child development centers in Ghana have formed choirs. One such choir is the Kasoa Cluster Mass Choir.

It is a tradition for children at our child development centers to welcome visitors and sponsors with elaborate drumming and dancing. This is an expression of appreciation and Ghanaian hospitality and culture.

Ghanaian children stare curiously into the camera. Children have face paint, which is a Ghanaian tradition.

Along with taking Ghana culture and traditions seriously, Ghanaians easily understand and adopt other cultures and practices. This makes Ghana a comfortable society for everyone to live in and an easy African country for outsiders to visit.

What Do the Ghanaian People Value?

Ghanaian elder crossing arms while smiling and looking off into the distance.

Ghanaians emphasize values such as the importance of family, respect for the elderly and honor for traditional rulers.

The people of Ghana also place high value on dignity and proper social conduct. Individual conduct is seen as having impact an on an entire family, social group and community. Therefore, each person is expected to be respectful, dignified and observant in nearly every aspect of life.

An entire family shares any loss of honor, which makes the Ghanaian culture a collective one. Protecting this sense of “face” requires harmony. Ghanaian people are proper and polite, ensuring they don’t cause embarrassment to others.

Ghanaians also value a sense of community, sharing everything, no matter how small the amount. This includes food and other resources.

Ghanaians preparing food outdoors. Three children sit on the right preparing red food, while three teens prepare food on the left. A Ghanaian woman is also in the background preparing food.

If a Ghanaian gets interrupted while eating, he invites that person to join him. Depending on the level of familiarity, the person may wash his hands and join in. If the relationship is casual, it is tradition for the other person to politely decline.

How Do You Say “Good Morning” in Ghanaian Culture?

Along with different ethnic groups and cultures, 52 separate languages and hundreds of dialects are spoken in Ghana. However, the official language is English.

Among the common greetings and responses in Ghana are:

  • Maakye. Good morning.
  • Maaha. Good afternoon.
  • Maadwo. Good evening.
  • Wohu te sen? How are you?
  • Onyame na adom me hu ye. By the grace of God, I am fine.
  • Me daase. Thank you.
  • Kusee. Sorry.
  • Me paa wo kyeo (“ky” sounds “ch” as it would sound in “chain”). Please.

When talking to an older person, a Ghanaian must not gesture with the left hand. In fact, anything done with the left hand is considered rude.

Nevertheless, some people write or do things with the left hand because that hand is stronger than the right. It is traditional to never use the left hand to eat or gesture, however.

The people of Ghana are indirect communicators. They take care not to relay information in any way that could cause issues. This includes delivering bad news, turning down an invitation or refusing a request.

Ghanaians aim to maintain harmonious relationships throughout society.

Learn more about Ghana and our work there!

Help Us Support Ghanaian Children Living in Poverty

While Ghana has many beautiful traditions, it is also home to children experiencing the challenges of extreme poverty.

Many children don’t have access to basic living essentials such as clean water, nutritious food, education and medical care. However, through child sponsorship, you can help us deliver the necessities these children need to thrive and escape the grip of poverty.

You can deliver critical love, hope and care to a child in need. Sponsor a child today!

This was originally published April 23, 2012.

30 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Mart July 12, 2023

    Hi greetings to you all. I read the post with much love. Everything said is correct. The greetings is the Twi version spoken by Akans consisting of the Ashanti’s, Akyems, Akuapems, Kwahus, Akwamus, Fantis, Bonos and many more

  2. Agyeiwaa July 7, 2023

    Oh I’m almost teary, all that is written is true about us. God bless you.

  3. kelvin November 10, 2022

    You really did a good job on reviwing my country good jod aand good bless you bey

  4. RAHINATU YAKUBU July 4, 2022

    Ghana is a country of peace, friendly and courageous.

  5. Me Jade May 3, 2022

    Your place look so good and peaceful and your food.

  6. lightouta October 28, 2021

    Wonderful read, may God cause the writer of this piece to enter doors of unmerited favor in Jesus name

  7. Doreen Vivian Namai October 7, 2021

    I can’t wait to meet my partner in Ghana for the first time we are so blessed ? thank you to Our Great God Our Creator ??❤️❤️

  8. Joshua obioma May 17, 2021

    I will love to be in Ghana for an holiday nice country, I love ghana

  9. lol April 28, 2021

    who is the author

    1. Kaye-Lin April 28, 2021

      Hello there! The author of this blog is named Vera. She is a photojournalist in Compassion Ghana. 🙂

  10. Richard Manu April 20, 2021

    Excellent brief about Ghanaian culture. That’s so amazing. The people of Ghana are so good to be with. They have unique culture that accept everyone.

  11. Dennis Ebo Quaye March 16, 2021

    If i had to introduce a person to Ghana at a glance. This is it

  12. Kinako Dazangapai December 16, 2020

    This is really so amazing the culture and everything is so beautiful.

  13. Ishmael September 24, 2020

    I really like your post. Thank you for sharing. With the common greetings that you shared, I will humbly suggest that you add the language and people that speak them to enlighten people more. Because those greetings are not said all across the country.

    1. Taryn September 24, 2020

      Hello Ishmael, thank you so much for your feedback. I have passed it along to our team to look into other languages. We appreciate you and you have a blessed day! ?

  14. Leonard Nabuko August 16, 2020

    It’s a beautiful country for holidays as the people are responsible warm and respectful

  15. Lilly July 19, 2020

    Ghana is such a friendly place

  16. isaiah December 4, 2019

    i have 50% of ghana dna and to be onest i am just 10 but my uncel who is frome ghana came to see me it was a long ride he said but i still thout his flight was delad anways i no that pepole frome ghana are specel they are so kine and one day when i was 4 i went to go visit and no trash anywher it was like heven.

  17. william November 27, 2018

    ghana is the best place if you would like to learn culture and foods and more

  18. Fatima Zeba May 2, 2018

    Ghana is a country with lots of friendly and welcoming people

  19. Jide Adeyoye March 18, 2017

    African culture is so rich that you can not but love it. Ghana, Nigeria are just but a few countries that have a special heritage that is unique. I love being African

  20. Ann Becerra January 1, 2017

    I visited my sponsored child last April and I can tell you how friendly and welcoming all the CI staff I met. I had a wonderful touring the country and all the people I met were all nice and kind.

  21. Juanita Graves August 23, 2016

    I just got back my Ancestry DNA, and I am 94% African with most percentage in Ghana. I would like to know as much as I can about my culture to embrace it. Reading this article explains so much as to who I am and now explains my warm spirit as I have been told.

  22. Gifty mensah July 16, 2016

    In God everything are possible so day will surely get their sponsors

    1. Kashmere Pratt December 1, 2016

      what christmas traditions and celbrations do yall do?cause my class is doing a project on yall country and we can’t find any information.THANK YOU

  23. Mark White August 23, 2012

    I just got back from a 2 week short term mission in Ghana. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people. They do love the lord and there is a great need there. Thanks Compassion for highlighting this great country. Three days after I left the President passed away and there was a peaceful change of power within 30 min. This was a great model for the rest of Africa.

  24. Kees Boer August 23, 2012

    I used to go on ships from Ghana with my dad during the Seventies. We would share the Gospel and many sailors from Ghana came to know Christ as Saviour……

    1. joycelyn January 15, 2018

      wauw amazing welcome to the kingdom of GOD my brother

  25. Karl August 23, 2012

    Good read, I really enjoyed it. It reminded me of my childhood there, which I miss very much :(. I’m laughing about the left hand gestures, I was left handed so anytime I would try to grab or greet an elderly person, they would smack my left hand away.

    The people are indeed very nice and friendly, I would encourage anyone to take a trip there if they can.

  26. Nina August 23, 2012

    Thank you so much for a beautiful picture of this wonderful country. Many ‘first world’ countries could learn a thing or two…..

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