In the light of the current happenings between Ghanaians and Nigerians, particularly the plight of many Nigerians in Ghana, I have decided to write this article as a guideline for many of my brothers and sisters, considering coming to Ghana, be it for schooling, business, touring or just a visit, these are 7 things you need to know before coming to Ghana, so you can enjoy your stay in Ghana and also get the best experiences while you choose to remain in Ghana. I have lived in Ghana for 16 years now, so if i can’t offer you valid guidelines, nobody else can.
MAKE SURE THAT YOUR TRAVEL DOCUMENTS ARE ALWAYS IN ORDER:
Nigeria and Ghana are both ECOWAS countries with even closer ties, but if you want to obtain the best out of the Ghanaian system while you remain in Ghana, I suggest you have your documents (NON-CITIZENSHIP ID & RESIDENTIAL PERMIT) intact. So to avoid a situation where you cant even have a bank account, mobile money services, own property or even run the simplest business which are the basic essentials of any society today, I advise you make sure your RESIDENTIAL PERMIT AND PASSPORT are always in order and up to date.
Ghana is a free country where it is possible for you to own a business, have a mobile money account or even buy property without a residential permit or a passport, but if you want to be protected by the law you MUST always insist that your documents are up to date. It is possible for someone to amass great wealth but without the necessary valid documentations, you run the risk of losing every single thing you have worked for and it will be legally taken. Many Nigerians in particular have been victims to this, so do not make the same mistake.
Before coming to Ghana make sure you have your passport ready, stamp it at the border and when you come into the country the stamp allows you certain liberties for 3 months at most. But if you see yourself staying in Ghana beyond 6 months or you are considering doing business in the country, I suggest you go to the Ghana Immigration authority and obtain your NON-CITIZENSHIP ID and RESIDENTIAL PERMIT. As of August 2019 the cost for a fresh applicant of NON-CITIZENSHIP ID is $120 and to renew it is $60 per year, before you can procure this you will be required to pass through medical analysis that will be done within the immigration office, the medical report costs 900 Ghana Cedis this is equivalent to $165. As an ECOWAS citizen in Ghana you are given the gracious offer of paying only “$500” for residential permit per year, while non ECOWAS citizen are required to pay $1000 per year if they wish to renew their license each year. This $500 or $1000 is to be paid each year if you wish to renew your residential permit.
$500 as ECOWAS citizen is a very high price to pay for the renewal of residential permit each year, but since no one complains about it why should they do something about the price?
You can remain in Ghana without this non-citizenship or residential permit but you do so at your own risk, as you can be ejected from the country at anytime and whatever accomplishment you have will be taken away. So I advise strongly that any Nigerian planning on being in Ghana beyond 6 months MUST acquire these documents or live in the fringes of society subject to extortion and constant fear.
AVOID HANGING OUT AT BLUE KIOSK BARS & GHETTOS OR SLUMS:
Ghanaians enjoy drinking, drinking is part of the culture just as it is in Nigeria, in every neighborhood you will very easily find at least one or two bars within every 5 mile radius. Many of these bars are the drinking joint for many of the hoodlums in the area, you do not want to be in these kind of places beyond buying your drink and taking it home if that is absolutely necessary, as a foreigner you must understand that to many such rundown places view you as a source of income not a person, There are many, MANY stories of Nigerians just hanging out and drinking at these blue kiosk bars when they are singled out by the criminals just because they are Nigerians and those poor non educated ones in the society see at as a duty of theirs to take from you what they feel you are taken from their country.
You also do not want to be in the ghettos for ANY reason because regardless of what you are doing there, once the police comes in for whatever reason, you as a Nigerian remain guilty until proven innocent. Avoid these places and hangout where you have other foreigners as yourself if you wish to remain within a protected class where you wont have much issues. Hangout in such placed that has a high influx of foreigners or mingle more with educated and well traveled Ghanaians, these are usually the best kind of people you can hangout with.
Nigerians are treated with healthy doze of apprehension in the Ghanaian society, those in the middle and upper middle class generally avoid meaningful interactions with Nigerians beyond party time, this is because the average Ghanaian truly believes that the average Nigerian is out to outsmart them or very recently “Kidnap” them, this is funny but it is true. The truth is that many Nigerians who are obvious illegals come into the country and mess up so terribly that when you look into the situation you understand easily why Ghanaians see Nigerians the way they do. The only way to change this is to watch the life we live in the country, and be mindful that how we choose to live our lives reflect on our nation as a whole.
AS A NIGERIAN MAN PLEASE CHOOSE YOUR WOMEN WISELY:
As a Nigerian man in Ghana please be aware that you will have a very nice time with dating and romance in Ghana, this is not because the Ghanaian women are cheap, it is simply because in every society on earth, women are naturally drawn to the foreigners, to the strangers. You must be mindful of how you engage women as this is the downfall of too many Nigerian men, you do not want to be the Nigerian man that is a womanizer in Ghana, you get all the sex you want but it is only a matter of time before the people around you find the slightest reason to mistreat you severely. I knew a guy who was an avid womanizer, he wasn’t just a womanizer but the type that will make it badly obviously, he was the type that asked almost everyone out, he thought he was living the life. One day he came back from work to discover that his home was invaded, vandalized and looted. Not even his shoes were left. Womanizing seems like a small thing but try not to date from your neighborhood please, you only bring more hatred to yourself when you already have a bad stigma attached to your nationality.
Remember that one of the complains of the Ghanaians on media is that we are taking their women and this seems like a small thing but they feel very strongly about it. You can date all the women you want but please have some class in the way you choose to go about it, NOT IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD ABEG!!! And be very careful of the type of lady you allow into your life, in Ghana women are the number one downfall of our brothers in Ghana, please be carefully.
TRY TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE:
I believe that if only you as a Nigerian can familiarize yourself with the most popularly spoken language in Ghana which is akan (Twi) I think you will find a lot of things easy. You can get the best deals at the market, your transportation experience with the taxi drivers will be much more pleasant. Learning the language and familiarizing yourself with the Ghanaian expressions and way of life will make your stay in Ghana so pleasant. Despite the whole issue with how Nigerians are seen in Ghana, Ghanaians are usually very accommodating people, if you are the type that opens yourself up to experiencing the Ghanaian lifestyle and language as it is experienced by the Ghanaian, I think you will enjoy your stay a little too much.
WATCH THE COMPANY YOU KEEP WHILE IN GHANA:
There is an expression that there is no smoke without fire and this is true, even in the situation of Nigerians in Ghana. Many Nigerians have turned themselves into raging brain dead animals, many of these Nigerians will fight at the drop of a hat, get loud for no reason, insult easily and generally are very arrogant people to be around. Many of these type of Nigerians are either completely jobless, illiterate or criminals who escaped the law in Nigeria and are now hiding in Ghana, trying to continue the evil they ran from.
Please my fellow Nigerians, never you ever keep the company of any Nigerian who behaves like the aforementioned, they will get themselves and you in trouble, it is usually just a matter of time before it happens. There are many Nigerians frustrated in Ghana, undocumented, illegal or plain criminals, please avoid them and any where they are congregated, you do not want to be identified with those type of people whether they be Ghanaian, Nigerian or any other nationality. You can find them in all the dark corners and blue kiosk bars or ghettos chilling like it is home, always have it in your mind that you are a foreigner and do not follow or relate with anyone that behaves in an unsavory manner. If you know any that behave like this already, cut them off and concentrate on your education or business in Ghana, these kinds will only lead you into a mess and many times they usually are the ones who escape while you remain in police custody answering questions that are not made for you in the first place.
CULTURAL DIFFERENCES TO TAKE IN MIND:
Ghana is a predominantly mother land, one of the biggest tribes in Ghana inherits kingship from the female line not from the male line. You can read about this on a wikipedia article about Akan chieftaincy for more understanding of this kind of society.
Ghana unlike Nigeria is predominantly motherland area, the culture and people are much more subtle in their approach towards everything, business, affairs and life in general. As a Nigerian when you first arrive in Ghana you may almost lose your mind at the slow pace of everything but please be patient, if you come to Ghana with the fast pace and quick action that animates the Nigerian society you will be interpreted as loud, insolent or simply arrogant. So I suggest you learn to be patient, eventually you will find a group of people and opportunity that matches your pace.
The mistakes many Nigerians make is to bring the Nigerian mentality to Ghana without some adjustments and think it will work just the same, people who do this are only creating the impression that because they are Nigerian they are smarter or better and there is no better way to alienate yourself from your Ghanaian counterparts. This will in reality makes them fear you as they will soon believe you are attempting to outsmart them, when in reality you are just living the way you are used to living. One of my 9 laws of power; NEVER OUTSHINE YOUR HOSTS, YOU ARE SUBJECT TO MISINTERPRETATION. Learn to keep a low profile and learn to work with them based on the pace of the lifestyle in Ghana, it is possible too.
Burial is a serious party event in Ghana, burials are more festive events than birthdays in Ghana, workers actually take time off to go to the burials of someone they dont really know, usually because they are invited. This wont happen in Nigeria but these are subtle things your should know so you understand better those who you will be working with, working under or those who will be working for you.
Do not give or take anything from anyone with your left hand, this is seriously frowned upon.
Just ask questions and be willing to learn these cultural differences and accept them as they are, the understanding of this will allow you to know how to better navigate the society without having issues with people.
PLEASE MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS KNOW YOUR LANE AND STICK TO IT:
Yes Ghana is part of ECOWAS and the AFRICAN UNION, yes culturally we are very similar in many ways but you must always remember that you are a foreigner in a foreign country. You must remember that regardless of how long you have lived in Ghana you can not act in the same capacity as a native of Ghana. You must be aware of this in the places you frequent, you must be aware of this in the kind of business you own, your work place or activities you choose to partake in. There are Chinese, Arabs, Europeans and many other African nationalities in Ghana doing business and living life, you never see them, you never hear of them but they are doing everything that any Nigerian can do but the only difference is that they choose their environment carefully and they carry themselves with respect.
The mistake many Nigerians make is that they come to Ghana and for some strange reason believe that they too are Ghanaians, it doesn’t work like that, if you do not carry yourself with integrity you do not deserve any respect. Many Nigerians are to blame for how Nigerians are seen and portrayed in the Ghanaian society, we fail to understand that we are foreigners and must behave properly to be treated properly. If many Nigerians were not failing in how they conduct themselves around our Ghanaian brothers and sisters, we won’t be portrayed as criminals and kidnappers. Yes it is ridiculous to judge 1000 people based on the crimes of 70 people but I still maintain that 70 misbehaving people is still 70 too many. Nigerians are to blame too.
The truth of the matter remains that somethings should and must be for Ghanaians alone, when you as a foreigner appear to have no boundaries in the system or lack the understanding that you are still a foreigner, you will always run into issues.
If you are a Nigerian thinking of coming to Ghana I believe these 7 guidelines will serve you well, this is my understanding of what give Nigerians the trouble they face after 16 years of living amongst our Ghanaian brothers and sisters. We must understand that there are cultural differences, many Nigerians make the mistake of trying to bring a Nigerian system to Ghana, it never works. Understand that you are a foreigner and embrace the culture of the people, avoid low life places and low life people who will easily put you into problems be they Ghanaian or Nigerian or anywhere else. If you can understand these lessons and follow them, you will have the best experience in Ghana, even as a Nigerian regardless of how the media has portrayed us.
I end this article with this proverbs “Good actions will always attract good reactions” “One bad nut destroys the taste of a hundred good nuts” Always remember, your actions and habits reflects on not just you but the society you are a part of.