Ya pusiya!

“Greetings to you all!”

Greetings, everywhere in Ghana, are important. There are greetings for everything. And it is preferable to greet someone and be late to wherever you are going than ignore the person and make it on time (I learned this the hard way). It is also bad form to converse with someone and not greet them. Often times I have witnessed Ghanaians start a conversation but a few exchanges in, they formally greet each other.

greetings 2
Greeting the village Chief and elders of our homestay village.

Depending where you are, the way you greet is also different. I can only speak of the north as what I learned in my language training was specific to the area and its cultural norms. In the north, when greeting an elder, the younger squats down or bows to the elder. There is also order to the greeting. It is the person who is arriving or passing by that begins the greeting. I still have a ‘bad habit’ of greeting anyone who enters my compound first. I have also taken to greeting teenagers in English rather than Mampruli because they will just sit there and look at me (rather than speak to the foreigner) and elders are not expected to formally greet children. I do not want to exclude these young people, hence the non-discriminatory ‘good morning/afternoon/evening’ is a happy medium. As for small children, they will shamelessly yell ‘foreigner’ or my local name (posts to come!) to no end and children at site have started to wave at me as I wave to them in response to their fervent yells. But very rarely do they actually greet me of their own initiative.

Short Mampruli lesson, for when you find yourself in Mamprusi land. This generally works in Dagbaani too, so if you are in Tamale, greet away!
A: Dasuba – Good morning
B: Naa — *acknowledgement* seriously, when in doubt, just say ‘Naa’
A: I gbisiya? — Did you sleep well?
B: Gכm beni – I did/I am well
A: I yiri dima? – How is your family?
B: Aalafiya – They are in good health

As I said above, there are greetings for everything for which the answer is usually, you guessed it, ‘naa’:
-Greeting at the market: Ni I daa, {And the market}
-Greeting to someone at work or working: Ni I tumna, {And your work}
-Greeting to someone collecting firewood: Ni I daare {And the firewood}
-Greetings to a newly married couple, new parents and parents at a naming ceremony: Ni ti zugu suŋŋu {Your good head — I presume the meaning to be like ‘one has good sense’}
-Greetings to someone returned from travelling: Ni I gorim {And your travels}

You can pretty much just say ‘Ni *insert whatever activity that person is involved in*’ and it works.

Greeting to someone eating:
A:I nube ŋmani – that funny letter is pronounced like the ‘ng’ in fungus before the solid ‘g’ sound. {Your hand is in the bowl}
B:‘Ti di la’ — {Let us eat}

When eating, it is polite to always invite anyone passing by or in your presence. So in this context, the person eating is expected to say ‘Ti di la.’ Often times, whether north or south, they will simply say in English (Ghanaian or not), ‘You are invited.’ Although, Ghanaians and their food culture really deserves its own blog entry.

If you are passing a group of people, it is expected that you greet all necessary, individually. I am still getting a hold on this practice as I am still used to feeling that one big, loud, general greeting is enough for all. Ghana get better.



**Disclaimer: The content of this blog is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Ghana Government.**


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Very good!!! Just like our house – My mother taught us to invite anyone(even passing by) to eat especially when food is already set. And mind you we had NO tables!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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