I know how fun it is to explore and want to be in the best position to chop life and be all away from all the troubles of life. I know. I also know how we want to enlarge our minds and hearts to various possibilities of life including traveling across various countries you ever dream of, does that feel familiar to you?

Oh well. It resonates well with me a lot. This year, I made various resolutions as to the really great and exciting things I want to do, books I want to read, people I want to meet and places I want to go to. All of them have kicked off.

On the 7th of January, one week into the new year, I started a trip off to Ghana 🇬🇭 to volunteer, work in specific places, speak on an international platform, visit tourist places and meet new people. I did all these things and as much as they were interesting, they came with one challenge or the other. No, I won’t tell you it was smooth. These challenges are what I’d be ‘gisting’ you about and also of course letting you know how I pulled through.

1. Money (Value and sufficiency): If someone ever told me Naira was so not valuable, I must have agreed. But if someone had told me it was this not valuable, I would have argued.

While I was coming into this country, because it was my second time, I thought it still worked as it did 6 years ago— if not totally but slightly. I was wrong. It was totally different.

The same way money value changes, that was the same way Naira drastically dropped down in its equivalence to Cedis. One of the things I came here to do was have an economic and educational analysis and in my findings, I realized that there were somethings 1 cedis could buy in Ghana that it couldn’t buy in Nigeria. By the way, at different times, I changed 1 cedis at 62.5 Naira, 70.4 naira, and 66.6666667 Naira (the decimal is important).

While you can get a good shoe at 10 cedis which is 700 Naira, a good shoe in Nigeria, starts from 2,000#. You see?

The value disparity between Naira and Cedis is averagely on the high side.

2. Language: Volunteering as an Education Instructor in Ridge Exponential D in Ghana was a great experience for me. I got to learn and lead at the time also trying to find my balance in communication with students while teaching.
While the school has “Speak English” posted all around the school, only few of then including teachers, spoke much of English.

It was full Twi at the assembly, during classes and even while we had staff meetings. It was very challenging because I had to figure out what they communicated through their gesticulations and countenance.

Twi is not as simple and familiar as French. It was easier to pick words from a French conversation than in a Twi conversation. 

Getting to the market place, at the salon, in a shop, in a bus, at school, only few people really understood English. And a bulk of them just looked away when I spoke because they didn’t understand.

At this point, I want to point out that it is wrong to think that anyone who doesn’t speak English is an illiterate or can be termed as local. That’s wrong. Although, I see this as a hold up for them when it has to do with global interaction, especially considering that they don’t speak French either.

I was concerned for the students. I was concerned that they might at a point find it hard to communicate with people outside their worldview and local parlance. It was of high concern for me because being a child, I had so many aspirations, I still do, and many of them would require that I speak international languages. I felt them in this same position.

I communicated a lot more to people, speaking English and gesticulating what I meant. It was awkward but I had no choice.

3. Food: My Mum used to say that “There’s no place like Home” and this only dawned on me when I got here. Being a Nigerian and gotten used to eating my Nigerian meals like Eba and Egusi or Gbegiri, Semovita and Efo riro, Moi moi and Bread, Akara and pap, etc (except Amala and Pounded yam. Lol), it was plenty hard for me to switch to eating other meals I wasn’t used to like Ghanaian Jollof Rice, Ghanaian Fried Rice, Banku and Groundnut Soup, etc. You see, the type of rice they cook here is quite different. It had a different size, shape, look and taste. It wasn’t looking endearing. I quickly adapted to the Rice because of the Ivorienne and Benin friends I lived with and largely because I had no choice.

Banku on the other hand for me wasn’t worth the hype people gave it in Ghana. If you’ve tasted Semovita before, Banku tastes like a not-well-prepared Semovita. Like, Semovita mixed with sugar. While the school served Banku and Groundnut soup on Mondays, I took the soup, which tasted really good, and left the Banku untouched.

In addition to these, there were not so many varieties of Ghanaian foods one could find in fast foods and restaurants. You could only find Beans, Fried Yam and Sauce, Rice and that was all. So, for the long while, I had a limited options of food I could eat. The fact that I hate to cook didn’t help matters either as I shuffled between cooking rice and stew or spaghetti and stew— they also didn’t have Nigerian ingredients at the market. You should feel my pain by now.

4. Conduct: On my first day here, the first thing I noticed was how they greeted each other and how I greeted them.

First, when you enter a cab, you are required to greet everyone in the cab and they would respond. Second, they shook hands to greet no matter your age or size and if not shake hands, especially in informal settings, they waved or not do anything at all.

This was me, a “culturized” Nigerian from the “Can’t you kneel well to greet?!” family (or at least stool a bit), trying to adjust was difficult. But while others just shook hands, I shook hands and bent a bit— to clear my conscience and most times, it was voluntary.

Greeting when I get into a cab was new for me. I’m used to the Lagos life where everyone is just minding their business and going on with their lives. I had to take conscious effort to greet when I got in the cabs. Most times, it took a seemingly long 5 seconds before I remembered to greet and did so. I thought I would get used to it in no time, but I was wrong. It was so until my fifth week there.

5. Events: In Nigeria, events hold everyday in different states. You find people having one place or the other to go to for self development and the likes but here, it was a different ball game.

I could hardly find a program or event holding in a week— except for church programs. Church programs and events were everywhere, everyday. Each church found something doing with their members to seek God or do something religious. They found it very great and active because they made their announcements anywhere and anyhow— TVs, radios, marketplaces, schools, just any medium.

But it was hard to find a program for self development.

For clarification, I am not in anyway downplaying how they advertised religious events. I am only showing how that if there was any event outside those, I would have known. Plus, I searched the internet as much as I could.

Theses were the chalk I sure pulled through in the 35days I was there.

There are videos on my YouTube channel that captures my whole experience in Ghana. Click here to watch them!