Ghana and Nigeria are countries located in West Africa. There are many similarities between Ghana and Nigeria, especially as English is the lingua franca. Instead of focusing on the similarities, this article will try to examine the notable contrasts between the two.
As a Ghanaian who grew up in Nigeria before moving back to my motherland, I have experienced both countries and I’ll love to share some cultural shocks that I never knew were waiting for me as I moved back to Ghana.
Cultural shock essentially comes from being cut off from things you are familiar with. It doesn’t result from just one event, usually, it’s a build-up from a sequence of events. Leaving your comfort zone to a completely new environment would always bring confusion and uncertainty and sometimes you won’t be able to identify what you are feeling as cultural shock until you are told. It’s a process and time would adjust that feeling.
The first thing I noticed when I got to Accra, (Accra is the capital city of Ghana) was the short fence used to define boundaries between houses. In Lagos, Nigeria, where I grew up, fences are usually very tall for mostly security reasons. If you attempt using the Ghana short fence style, you are sending an invitation to ‘trouble’ to come to pay a visit. Seeing this fencing style as a norm in Ghana came as a shock to me.
Another cultural shock is the transportation system in Ghana. The commercial buses in Ghana are called “Troski or trotro” while in Nigeria, it is fondly called “Danfo”. These buses in Ghana are very comfortable as compared to the ones in Nigeria. Some of the buses in Ghana even come with mini televisions which blew my mind. I admire the intentionality in making sure that the customers are comfortable in these buses.
The Nigerian regulating organization for banks has made it a policy to require protected entrance systems to stop anyone from entering or leaving bank rooms quickly and easily. This program was put in place to reduce armed robberies at Nigerian banks. Their bank hall entrances are porous, in contrast to those of Ghanaian banks. In Nigeria, the protocol used to enter a bank is extremely strict, but it’s not really the same in Ghana. This was extremely shocking to me.
The mode of admission into universities in both countries is not the same. If you wish to enroll in a Nigerian university, then, get ready for the upcoming exams, JAMB, NECO, WASSCE, and university aptitude tests administered by the different colleges. In Ghana, it is really straightforward; all you need to get admission are your authentic WASSCE results.
Another culture shock for me is the way some streets are arranged without names in Ghana. This makes it hard for tourists to find their way around communities. In Nigeria, streets are properly arranged and named and this makes it easy for people to find their way around that particular location.
On this one, I need someone to explain to me how eggs became a snack in Ghana. Is there a back story to it? I’m interested! In Ghana, people eat eggs as snacks. Sellers will slice eggs open, and put sliced onions and mashed pepper in it like some sort of burger. This was so new to me as it is not a thing in Nigeria.
My first time at a Ghanian wedding, I was shocked! How can you tell me there is a wedding without aso ebi? Ah well, Welcome to a Ghanaian wedding. “Aso Ebi ” in this context is like uniform wear for wedding attendants which adds beauty, glamor, and color to a wedding but then it’s not a thing in Ghana, only if the couple wants to make it happen for them. On the other hand, the way weddings are a big deal in Nigeria is the way funerals are a big deal in Ghana.
I will love to end this write-up by acknowledging Ghanaians’ overall coordination. For someone who grew up in Lagos, coordination in oneness was a foreign concept to me. Ghanaians are never really in a hurry or rush. At first, I found that annoying but I had to adapt to it.
Cultural trends portray the uniqueness of a particular culture so traveling and experiencing cultural shock is perfectly normal as every culture has its own peculiarities.