A Thirteen Point Guide To Surviving In Ghana For Those Returning From The Diaspora — Guest Post By Akua Blakofe

35 min

Ok, ok, ok, so you are a Diaspora (or a foreigner) who has decided to make the big move to Ghana. Brilliant. Congratulations. But before you go, let me help you out with a few tips that will make your life there livable.

Some of these survival tips you may find absurd and disagree with. You don’t have to follow them, but I strongly suggest you do: after all, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

  1. Accept that money is everything and bribery and corruption is the norm.

Look, you may not like the idea of having to give someone money to do their job, but the sooner you accept and start practising bribery and corruption, the sooner you will find happiness in Ghana. As a Diaspora, the temptation for you to refuse to pay a bribe is always staring at you in the face. From the law courts to secretaries to security guards to politicians and everyone else in between, bribing people in order for you to get things done is the norm.

What is abnormal is not bribing. Refuse to bribe and you will be kept waiting. For example, say you go to court and need to pick up a copy of the legal proceedings. Be prepared to pay whoever needs to be paid in order to get your documents. Don’t pay and you will end up spending more money going up and down trying to get hold of your papers. Another example, imagine you’re trying to book a meeting with a Minister, if you bribe everybody from the security guard at the gate to the receptionist to the Minister’s PA, you are more likely to secure a meeting than if you don’t bribe anyone.

You may think you’re doing the right thing by going back and forth to the Minister’s office. And in as much as you may be, remember in Ghana everyone expects to receive a bribe before they perform their duty. So go to the Minister’s office all you like, until you show money, you will wait forever for an appointment. Bribery in Ghana is the norm. It is everywhere and practiced by everyone. The police and courts in particular are notorious for taking bribes. As a Diaspora who refuses to engage in this act of corruption, you will be singled-out and you will stick out like a sore thumb.

Obviously you don’t have to bribe people if you are really uncomfortable with the thought of it. But if you can’t stomach the fallouts of going against the grain and want a stress-free life in Ghana, I suggest you do as the Ghanaians do and start bribing your way through everything.

Still on the money issue, I advise you to be very careful of people as even family will not hesitate to steal from or even kill you because of money. We hear tales of parents taking their children for human sacrifice in exchange for money. I myself have experienced people who should have been looking out for my interests stealing huge sums of money from my family and I. For the sake of money, people will pretend to like you. They will want to be in your company at all times. They will sing praises upon you and make you feel as if you are the most important person in their life. It is all a big fat lie. They simply want your money so always keep this at the back of your mind.

It may seem paranoid, but living with paranoia is actually the best way to survive Ghana. People don’t like you. They like your money. Everyone is for sale in Ghana. If you don’t exchange money on a daily basis with everyone from the policeman at the barrier to the head of admissions at an institution to the nurse on duty at the hospital, your life will not be easy. So close your eyes and do what is the accepted norm in Ghana – buy your way to a good, stress-free life. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where bribery and corruption is the normal and accepted practice.

2. Do not have expectations. Do not have any standards.

When I first started coming to Ghana, I had expectations and standards like I do back home in England. For example, in England, we are taught that the customer is always right. Please, please, please do not have those expectations in Ghana. If you must however have those expectations, make them as low and as awful as you can think of. Shockingly, you will find that in most situations, your worst expectations will be met. Thus I personally have now resorted to not having any expectations whatsoever. That way, I’m not shocked, upset or angry.

Before I took on this new attitude, I used to get so angry all the time. I remember things like booking an appointment to see someone at a certain time. On the day of the appointment, I call in advance to confirm the appointment. I get to the appointment only to find the other person has stepped out of their office. Or caught up doing something and I’m left hanging. The natural reaction of a Diaspora is not only to get upset or angry, but also let it be known. Whatever you do, do not do this. I used to. But now that I have no expectations, when I have a 2pm appointment with someone, I no longer make sure I’m there by 1.45pm as I do back home in England. Nope. Why get there for 2pm only to get upset? Now, with no expectations of the other person being prepared to honour the 2pm appointment, I take my sweet time and get there whenever. Since adopting this lifestyle of Ghanaians, I find that I am less angry and less upset.

Of course, you don’t have to be late for appointments and meetings. But to make your life sweet in Ghana, I suggest either you do, or you arrive on time with the only expectation that the other party will not keep the time or even the appointment, with no prior notice to you. To save yourself from hypertension, expect to go and meet someone who cancels a meeting with very short notice or does not even turn up, without calling to offer an apology or explanation. The best way to survive Ghana as a Diaspora is to have no expectations whatsoever and very very low standards.

If you go to a restaurant and ask for tea, expect to be given drinking chocolate and expect to go back and forth before the waiter/waitress finally brings you what you want – a regular cuppa! If you order chips, expect mayonnaise, not ketchup. If you go to a shop, expect the shop owner to act as if you’re intruding her privacy. When you go to the local kiosk, expect that the item you want will not be available, day after day after day after day. Expect that the girls in the shop will look at you as if you are dog turd. When going to the ATM or doing mobile money transactions or receiving international money transfer do not expect that you will achieve this easy task easily. Expect the first five ATMS, first five mobile money operators and first five banks to not be functioning or open for business. That way, if you find the first (highly unlikely especially on a weekend) working / open, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Having no or low expectations and standards is one of the secrets to surviving in Ghana, more so as a Diaspora. Seriously, if you do not want to have arguments on a regular basis, just do not have expectations or standards. For the sake of your blood pressure, breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where standards do not exist.

3. Accept that plastic, dirt and filth is here to stay.

Just 20 years ago when people went to buy food such as waakye, they carried their own bowls. From nowhere, plastic was introduced into the system. Whereas back home in England we no longer use plastic, here in Ghana plastic is the range. Everyone gives out and carries plastic. If you want to fit in, please do not preach about how clean England is and how you recycle plastic. Do not talk about the separate bins for food, paper and bottles. Whilst you are in Ghana, the best thing for a stress-free life is for you to just shut up and join in because truth is most people don’t care about the plastic. No-one is concerned that Accra is smelly and most parts of the country is slowly turning into heaps of rubbish. Right now, the new way I see the plastic and the dirt is as part of the architecture and look of Ghana. Every country has its image. When I think of Italy, I think of the Coliseum. When I think of Zambia I think of clean streets. When I think of Rwanda, I think of order and sanity. When I think of Ghana, I think of dirt and filth. Every country with its own look. If Ghanaians are happy living with filth and dirt, who are you, a Diaspora to come and tell them to live otherwise? If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen, or as former national security advertiser, Brigadier-General Nunoo Mensah eloquently put it in 2013, “if the kitchen is too hot for you, get out.”

In the 1980s in England, there was a huge advertising campaign about keeping the country clean. The message stuck in my head and all my life, I practice keeping whichever country I find myself in clean. In all the time I have been in Ghana, I have never once thrown rubbish out on the streets. Even when I go to the beach, I dispose of any rubbish properly. All this changed this year when I decided enough is enough. I was buying waakye with my bowl and a man told me I was wasting my time as one person not throwing rubbish out will not make any difference. To tell you the truth, I used to tell people all the time about keeping a clean environment. After that comment by the man that morning and having made up my mind to accept that plastic and dirt is part of the Ghanaian environment, I also let go and now not only accept plastic when I go shopping, but also throw rubbish out. Ok, ok, ok so I only did it once, as practice. It did not feel good, but I will no longer be pedantic about keeping Ghana clean. For the sake of my survival in Ghana, I will endeavour not to feel any qualms about doing as everyone else and freely throw rubbish and plastic out on the streets. I promise myself to stop lecturing people about the dangers of plastic waste to the environment. Afterall, I won’t be here in 50 years’ time so why should I care how I leave the Earth? Why should I concern myself with keeping my country clean when all else around me are busy keeping the country dirty?

Here in Ghana, it is very normal to drink water and throw the sachet out of the car window. You don’t have to do as the Ghanaians do and start throwing rubbish around. But if you can at least accept dirt and filth as part and parcel of life in Ghana, you will save yourself a lot of upset. Right now, the front of my beautiful home is looking like a waste disposal site. The land in front of the building opposite my house is full of plastic. It is really disgusting waking up to and walking past that sight. Outside my house, I always pick up plastic and other dirt. I ask the people I live with to do the same. They do not. Now that I have decided to accept the plastic waste as part of the décor of the Ghana, the grass outside my house is fast becoming a refuse dump. First one water sachet. Then a wrapper of sorts. Before you know it, walkers by have started adding their rubbish to it.

I hate the idea that the grass in front of my home is now becoming a refuse dump. But for over 20 years, I have been the only one picking up after other people. Now that I too have accepted that this is Ghana, a country where we live with rubbish and dirt, I wake up to rubbish on my grass. None of that rubbish put there by me. Either I live peacefully with it or be in constant rage. Looking at the way things are going in Ghana, plastic, dirt, filth and the nasty smell is here to stay. I’ve accepted that now. Do the same and your time in Ghana will be more pleasant and less stressful. The days of taking water to quench the rubbish my neighbour is burning is not only over, but I too will burn my rubbish in my backyard. Why should I pay for monthly refuse collection when everyone else is burning their rubbish? Rubbish, plastic, dirt is all part of living in Ghana. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where plastic is part of the national décor.

4. Drive like a Ghanaian and accept the chaos on the streets

I was at the driver’s seat, the only Diaspora in a car full of Ghanaians. At each zebra crossing, I would stop for pedestrians to cross. Each time, other drivers would insult me.

When I wanted to change lanes, I would indicate and wait for the right opportunity. That opportunity however sometimes never seemed to come. My passengers would laugh at me each time “London driving in Ghana. It won’t work oooo.” Another time, I was a passenger in a taxi. We were behind a car at a junction. The taxi driver kept honking at the car in front of us to move into the road. I got agitated by the honking and asked him where he expected the car in front to go. I asked him if it made sense for the car in front of us to move onto the road, thus blocking it and causing unnecessary traffic. The driver replied “If he does not go, nobody will allow him. He has to force.” And that pretty much sums up driving in Ghana. It is about forcing your way to get to your destination. How you get there, who you hurt on the way, any damage you cause, none of that is your concern.

If you want to prevent yourself from getting sick, do not drive like you would back home in England. Do not respect junctions. Block them if it means you getting ahead. If you don’t feel like sitting in traffic, don’t. Either you use the side road to by-pass everyone else or you use your car hazards as if you are in an urgent situation. If you have money to throw about, you can hire a cop on a bike or cops in their four wheel vehicles to zig zag you through the traffic. The sooner you accept the chaos and disorder on the roads and start driving like a Ghanaian, the sooner you will find inner peace. Do not ask people if they attended driving school, took a test and hold a valid license. Just take it as they did not and do not! And if they do have a license, assume it was bought, without the person ever having been tested for both theoretical and practical knowledge of driving. As a Diaspora, you do not have to undo all the learning you did at driving school. You can choose to do the right thing on the road. But you will only get angry so the best advice I can give you is when in Ghana, drive as a Ghanaian. Get an air-conditioned car. Put together a compilation of your all time feel good songs. Sit in that car and be in your own zone. Forget other road users or as they say in the local parlance “forgetti obiaa. Do you and get to your destination, enjoying your music in your chilled car.

Key to this tip is the ability to drown out everyone else. So even if someone cuts you dangerously, do not get angry. Infact, go back to point 2 and expect everyone on the street to drive like a lunatic. So rather than get angry, switch off mentally and focus on cutting your way to your destination. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where people drive like lunatics and the roads are chaotic and disorderly.

5. Whoever reports a crime first is right.

Please remember this if you ever get caught up in a situation that requires police involvement. Get in there first and you are more likely to win, no matter if you are indeed right or wrong. This is true is most instances, however it can be overturn if you have money. If luck is not on your side however, you could find yourself in a game of cat and mouse as you and the other party outbid each other to the police! Imagine this- someone steals from you so you take something of theirs. They rush to the police ahead of you to make a report against you. The police arrest you.

Although the person stole from you in the first instance, because they reported the case to the police before you, the police are more likely to prosecute you. As soon as you see something going astray, take as much money as you can and get the police on your side before the other party, even if you are wrong! Just get in there first, have the money and you will be a happy person in Ghana. Now obviously you don’t have to follow this advice, but do UK style of I know my rights and I won’t bribe and you will end up so frustrated and broke. Save yourself the stress and money. Report to the police before the party you have an issue with. Don’t go empty handed. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” and just rush to make your report first.

6. Do not care about anything or anyone other than your family, friends, old school network and sycophants.

As a Diaspora, when you see things that are wrong, for example the deplorable state of Ghana’s hospitals and schools, you may want to talk about it. You may be tempted to talk about the need for clean public toilets as opposed to people urinating on the streets. You may want to tell parents not to hold their young children on their laps in the front seat of the car and to use car seats and / or seatbelts. You may itch to utter out loud where are the pavements, sideways and pedestrian walkways”. Do not. Nobody cares. Look, people are not blind. They can clearly see that Ghana needs street lights. They can see that people who are entrusted to look after the country on their behalf do not care. People can see that more and more Ghanaians are losing their culture. People can see everything wrong. But nobody cares. Nobody cares if the youth are dancing more salsa than agbaja or adowa. Nobody cares if fried rice has replaced plantain and kontomire in the daily diet of Ghanaians. Nobody cares if people are corrupt and are not prosecuted. Nobody cares about Ghana. And to survive in Ghana, you need to have the ability to not care. It’s as simple as that.

Do not do anything unless it will benefit you and your network. For example, if a President of Ghana appoints you as a Minister in government and an investor wants to do business in Ghana, do not make it easy for them, unless there is some benefit to you, personally. Seriously. This may sound insane, but to survive in Ghana you cannot afford to care. If you care, you will forever to talking, talking, talking about all the things that should be done to make life bearable for everyone. Nobody cares and your constant talking will not make any positive difference. It will however make you enemies and forever remind people you are a “been too”. And “been too”s are not the most popular of people! We think we know it all. We are called “too known” in Ghana.

Remember that this don’t care attitude extends to you. When you first arrive with your money, people will pretend to like and care about you. Pretend to be broke and you will see how much they truly care. As far as Ghanaians are concerned, the Queen of England throws money at us lot and we have it to spare. If you make the mistake of showing kindness, you will be doomed. The people will take and bleed you dry. I remember a boyfriend I had. The man not only impregnated another woman, but went on to marry her and have another child. Regardless, the man would not leave me alone and somehow, I found myself financing him and his family. Despite the love and care I showed this man, he did not care enough about me to do the right thing by me when he stole my car to use as collateral to leave Ghana. You see these people, they will pretend to love you in the hope of securing a visa. I call it “Economic Love”. And if the visa doesn’t come, they will steal from you to go. To save yourself this hurt, do not care. Simples. Nobody cares. People will only come around you because of what they will get. If you enjoy being used, cool. Otherwise, don’t care. Do not do for anyone. Do not speak out about social ills. Become cold-bloodied and focus on only you and your people.

If on the other hand you can live with pain; constant lies; don’t mind having enemies and the (negative) labels then show you care. Otherwise I suggest you harden up your heart and think only of what is good for you, your family and circles of friends. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where there is no national agenda, but personal pocket agenda.

7. Accept that the majority of people are dishonest, do not want to see you progress and will do all they can to pull you down.

Dishonesty is so rampant in Ghana that is normal. It is absolutely amazing but if you think people mean what they say and you expect them to act on it, you will never be happy in Ghana. The best way to deal with people is to take everything they say with a pinch of salt. For example, if a seamstress gives you a particular day to collect your clothes, take it with a pinch of salt because rest assured the outfits will not be ready on the given day. If a mechanic tells you “don’t worry” worry. Really really worry. I remember a time I was trying to book an appointment with a high profile member of one of the political parties. At an event, the person, asked the woman accompanying her, someone I knew and had shown kindness to in the past, to give me her PA’s number so I book a date with her. The woman accompanying her said she already had my number (this is true) and would book the appointment. Can you guess what happened next? The woman never called me so I called. And called. I texted. I sent WhatsApp massagers. To date, the woman has not bothered to book my appointment and has refused to give me the PA’s number.

Before, I would have been so angry with their woman. But now that I have decided to change my attitude and adopt the lifestyle of Ghanaian, I am not angry. I take is as the woman being dishonest and a hater who practices pull her down. I also see this woman as a typical Ghanaian who says things she does not mean. At the time she said she would book the appointment, she said it to score brownie points in the eyes of her boss. She did not say she would book the appointment because she likes me or because she is doing her job. This was purely a move to make her look good in front of her boss. And being the typical Ghanaian she is, she expects me to beg or pay her to honour her words. That is how Ghana works. Do not fight it. Accept it for your own peace of mind.

I will get my appointment, but I will have to go through a great deal of obstacles because that is how Ghana operates. End of. Accept that, move on and you will not be as stressed as you would be if you think things work like back home in England. Let me share with you another incident that left me so enraged to the point of tears. All simply because I took someone’s words as meaningful. I had a court case that had been going on for a year. I was tired and simply wanted to see the end of it. My lawyer walked out of the case so a friend suggested I contact a friend of his who apparently had not only expressed interest in my case, but had offered to take it on at no cost to me. To cut a long distressing story to short, on the first court date, my lawyer arrived almost an hour late. On the second appearance, my lawyer failed to file the necessary documents, despite having almost a month to do so. This naturally led to another adjournment of the case. As if not filing my documents is not bad enough, my lawyer actually left me, alone in court to attend to three other cases he had at the High Court.

When I angrily confronted him, he actually had the audacity to say he is busy. My beef… why then offer to take up another case? I did not approach this lawyer. He heard about the case from a mutual friend and expressed interest in representing me, at no cost to me. So imagine my other shock when I was asked to produce 500 cedis at 4.30pm on a Thursday in order to file papers for a hearing on the following Monday morning. If I had applied this tip of not taking people’s words for their bond, I would have mentally prepared myself for this lawyer letting me down along the way. Had I accepted a long time ago that in Ghana, words have no meaning to the person uttering it, I would have put aside some money towards the case. This infact goes back to tip 1….everything in Ghana is about money. If you don’t have money, even people who offer to help you for free will do so half-heartedly, with no real desire or commitment. For your personal happiness in Ghana, do not take people at their word. Always have it in mind that they are merely uttering words because it is conversational to do so. Take the word of a Ghanaian to be meaningful and the disappoint and bitterness you will feel towards other humans will be damaging, phenomenal and life-lasting. I went through a phase where I cut everyone out of my life because the dishonesty and lies became unbearable. At that time in Ghana, every single person I interacted with would either lie, betray, steal or backstab me. It was absolutely insane how every single day, I met these type of experiences. People I thought were friends continuously failed me as they backstabbed and betrayed me. I used to be a happy, carefree person, but I became very bitter due to all the dishonesty I met in Ghana. I lost all faith in humans.

Unfortunately, as I do not live alone on a deserted island, I still have to interact with other Ghanaians. So I flipped my mind. I tried to undo the bitterness by telling myself that in Ghana, I should just accept that the people are not honest. Some people may not set out to be dishonest but at the end of the day, they will let me down because they will say things they have no intention of doing. Admittedly it is difficult listening to people I know are lying, but it is better than believing them and getting disappointed and hurt. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel this bitterness I feel so I recommend that when in Ghana, you do not take Ghanaians as honest people to be relied on. Do your own thing and if they come through for you, great. But never rely or depend on the words of a Ghanaian. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where everybody is a liar.

8. Do not show confidence, assertiveness, joy or happiness.

Back home in England, when I want to achieve something, I pump myself up before I leave home so I arrive bouncy and full of confidence. I walk into a room and I know I own it. People see my confidence and are attracted to it. In the UK, knowing what you want and being assertive are positive traits. It is admirable to be confident and assertiveTo be a go-getter is a good thing. That is the UK, not in Ghana. If you want to achieve things, do not try to show you are confident or assertive. Stride into a room with confidence and automatically you will make enemies. If it is an office, the secretary or receptionist will hate your confidence so much they will frustrate you. Save yourself the stress. The best way to achieve results in Ghana is to appear meek and helpless. Beg people to do their job. Make them feel as if they have the power to make or break you. Let people see that you are unhappy because if you dare show joy and happiness, they will bring you down.

People in Ghana have the knack of pretending to be happy for you when you are happy. But they are not. If you genuinely want to be happy in Ghana, pretend you are unhappy. That will guarantee your happiness. I remember a time I got a job in Ghana. There were about 5 of us who got on really well. We always use do joke and laugh a lot. This made the rest of the office hate us. Rumours started flying. So in an attempt to keep our happiness, we had to pretend we were no longer on good terms. At times, we would meet outside the office for lunch. Laugh and have a great time. After lunch we would part and return to the office separately. We would spend the rest of the day not even looking at, let alone talking to each other. When our other colleagues saw this, they were happy and stopped talking about us.

As a Diaspora, you’re probably used to showing happiness. Well, if you want to have peace of mind and true happiness in Ghana, do not show joy or happiness. If you were a local, who had made good for themselves you would have automatic bragging rights but alas you are a “been too”. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where the meek inherit the Earth…not!

9. Common sense is far from common and use of initiative is non-existent.

If I had simply accepted this fact, I would have saved myself pondering the same issue over and over again, day in, day out – why won’t people in Ghana use their common sense? Now that I have accepted common sense is far from common in Ghana and people do not use their initiative, whenever I find myself retracting, I am forced to remember that Ghanaians are not brought up to think for themselves. At home, parents and elders are always right. At school, children are not thought to think. Teacher says, children repeat and accept. We take common sense and use of initiative for granted back home in England, but if you spend enough time with Ghanaians you will realize common sense is not something everyone is automatically born with. And use of initiative is not encouraged. In some cases it is even punished. When you see Ghanaians in this context, you will get on better with them.

Anytime you are tempted to admonish a Ghanaian for lack of common sense or initiative, try to remember this guide to surviving Ghana. Your admonitions will not make the slightest difference. The issue you are complaining about has been been complained about for years and will continue to be a problem in Ghana for years to come. Leave it. Accept that common sense and initiative is not a Ghanaian thing and you will have a better understanding of the logic and actions of the people. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” and this is how the people are.

10. Avoid local media

On TV and radio in the mornings, the policy is Christian preaching and gospel music. This is followed by a newspaper review show where every morning one representative from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and one representative from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) sit in the studio to disagree on everything. What should be an intellectual debate or discussion often ends up sounding like a childish blame game between kindergarten kids. This goes on every morning. Yet not one TV or radio newspaper review show has brought a solution to a problem or development to Ghana. All these shows do is consume the people with NDC and NPP.

These shows do not solve any national issues. Avoid them because starting your day with NDC and NPP shouting and accusing and counter-accusing and denying and counter-denying is the most painful way to start any day. The content on TV and radio does not get any better in the day.

Back home in England we have a variety of shows to choose from. There’s a lot of good content on TV and radio. TV and radio in Ghana will leave you scratching your head as you switch from channel to channel only to be met with Z-rate Mexican soap operas, Nigerian films, church / preaching / demons being cast out of people and not much else of any quality (remember, do not have high or even low standards in Ghana. Just do not have any expectations of anything good on telly). If you make the mistake of turning the telly on, you will wonder where you are – are you in India or Brazil? Could your plane have landed in Jamaica or Mars by mistake? You will also wonder what the local Ghanaian presenters are saying as they speak in undecipherable accents and tones.

Although watching telly is a big part of life in UK, I recommend for the sake of your health you avoid watching telly in Ghana as all the content – from programmes to commercials to announcementswill make your blood boil from morning to night. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where fakery is valued over the real McCoy.

11. You will waste a great deal of money on internet and phone calls.

This one actually makes for a great punishment for rebellious teens from the Diaspora who are used to having internet at their fingertips. The cost and frustration of trying to get online is enough to make you vow never to return to Ghana. Punish rebellious teens once with internet access and usage in Ghana and you will be guaranteed good behaviours on their return to England.

Sadly for many who vow never to return to Ghana, the reality is all humans are from a country. For us, with Ghana being our Motherland, we will return to it time and time again. And coming from the Diaspora, we are used to instant internet and Wifi everywhere. Even loading credits onto your phone in Ghana can be a whole day affair as the network stays down. As I type this, I can’t use the internet as there hasn’t been any network all morning. It is tempting to let the frustration of not being able to get online or make a simple phone call when you want eat you up. Do not let it. The best way to deal with the phone and internet situation is to follow all general advice of this survivor’s guide…just accept it.

Accept that in Ghana, even establishments like hotels and restaurants do not have Wifi and even if they do, they will most often tell you it is not working, through no fault of their own. Accept that in Ghana you can’t assume that picking up the phone will lead to automatically being able to make a phone on the first attempt. Give it several tries before you expect your call to get though. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” and when you return to the UK, you’ll go back to good and instant internet and phone calls.

12. Am I in a mental asylum?

Some of the things that happen in Ghana will have you asking yourself if you are in a mental asylum. For example, a Pastor convincing his flock of sheep that he can fly to Heaven, straight from his church and the people believing him. Another example that will have you wondering about the mental state of the people is the turning of pavements and walkways into point of sales areas. Loads of things happen, on a daily basis that will leave you confused as to whether you have mistakenly stumbled into a mental home or not. And truthfully, in order to ensure you remain sane and enjoy Ghana, it is highly and strongly recommended you see the country as one big mental institution.

Obviously not everyone is a mental patient. Some are indeed inmates of the asylum. Some are psychiatrists and nurses. Others are sociologists, anthropologists and visitors. Deciphering who is who however, could be the biggest challenge you face. A good way to overcome this is to assume everyone is loco and a patient of the Asylum called Ghana. That way, when they do the stupid things they do, you can easily understand, forgive and move on. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” where it is better to accept things as they are as you will never understand the actions and logic of the people.

13. Ghana will never change or work.

This is a really tough one to swallow, but seriously, the sooner you get it into your head that you cannot change Ghana, the sooner you will find peace. To survive in Ghana, you simply cannot afford to be an agent of change. You will face deep resistance from all corners. You will not be appreciated. Many Diasporas before you cared and tried to change things. They failed. So will you. Ghanaians have not asked you to come and change things for them. You certainly do not have the right to ask them to change things in order for you to enjoy the country.

The corruption and bribery, lack of application of common sense, the chaos and order…that is all Ghana. Accept that, assimilate and enjoy the country as it is, for truly if you cannot beat them, join them. And I will tell you for a fact that you will never beat Ghanaians at what they do best – practicing right is wrong and wrong is right. Ghana is a failed upside down country. Accept it. Live with it. If not, you at least as a Diaspora have a get out card and other options. Breath. Do not get angry or frustrated. Just accept “this is Ghana” and things will never work as it ought to or as it works in the UK.

As I said at the start of A Diaspora’s Guide to Surviving Ghana, some of these suggestions may sound daft. You are at liability to ignore them. But so do at your own peril because these are indeed the tools that will empower you as a Diaspora (or foreigner) to make it in Ghana, your own Motherland.

Follow these tips. Enjoy Ghana. Thank me later.

“A Thirteen Point Guide To Surviving In Ghana For Those Returning From The Diaspora” is a guest post written by Akua Blakofe. She is a returnee who is best known for hosting shows on TV and radio in Ghana”.

Source: Akua Blakofe/ GhanaCelebrities.Com








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Nii Smiley Byte
Nii Smiley Byte (Godwin Okine) is the Managing Editor of GhanaCelebrities.Com and a fixer for foreign journalists travelling to Ghana for work. Nii has three strong passions in life -- football, blogging and music -- in that order. His motto is that 'you can do everything you set your mind to', stolen without regret from the greatest rapper the world has ever seen, Eminem. For writing or fixing gigs, contact [email protected]