Rami Baitie writes: More on manners in Ghana

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Sometimes it feels like writing on manners in Ghana, or the lack thereof is a never-ending saga. But someone’s got to do it, right? Right? Right? 

I have been asked to expound more on noise in Ghana. I can’t! There is just too much to comment on, and it’s all negative. Radios in taxis anyone? Or radios at fuel stations? Sheesh! Noise be what?! As for the churches and mosques, they are worthy of an entire post, but I don’t feel like stressing myself out.

What about crashing events? People, who turn up at an event with a friend of a friend? And it’s always worse at weddings I feel. There is simply no consideration for the person hosting the event. It’s a case of food, drink, music, company, and it’s all free, so let’s go! Ghanaians like freebies! Ebei!

The ‘Sssssss’ phenomenon I mentioned in the last post on Manners appears to have hit a nerve. I’ve been given numerous examples, but the best (worst?) is when a man, sitting casually on a low wall, calls a passing female, “Ssssssss”, and then beckons her over with his hand. Apparently, that is a prelude to ‘rapping’ the female. Ladies, would you go over to such a man in the first place, much less listen to his introductory ‘rap’?? And of course, there are the Ghanaians who call people by snapping their fingers….something I use to get my dogs’ attention.

Have you ever seen a Ghanaian confronted with a hot cup of something? How we blow on it like we are trying to distribute it through an unseen medium?? Surely we should have learnt by now that a soft gentle breath is enough. Of course, even if we do blow gently I know that eventually, the person drinking will slurp the liquid like his life depends on it. I wish I could spell the slurping sound, but I’m not that clever. And if there is no slurp there will possibly be a dunk! Ah, joy! Grabbing a hunk of bread and dipping it into a hot steaming mug of tea-Milo or tea-tea or tea-coffee is simply wonderful….but so uncouth and so messy when done in public.

It’s strange that some very pleasurable activities are so rude. Like using your straw to suck the very last vestiges of your drink out of a bottle or a glass. You are not about to leave any of that drink, especially if you paid for it! So you will suck hard through that straw even as you twirl the straw into every corner of the bottle or glass. And of course, the sounds will be growing in volume as the drink actually finishes.

Fortunately, we have to drink with our mouths shut otherwise we shall simply drool and lose our drink. But there are those creatures amongst us who believe that they must advertise what they are eating by keeping their mouths open as they chew. Is there any more grotesque sight in public than someone chewing with their mouth open?? And some have the sound effects accompanying the chewing tuned to a high frequency. And sometimes that sound you hear is cutlery being whacked against teeth! And then when they are done eating they will suck as much air as possible through their teeth to show how satisfied they are!

I have a whole post on buffets (This Way To The Buffet), but I have to mention some of our coarser behaviours when it comes to eating out. Like not waiting for your partner’s food when your food is served first. It is common courtesy! Are you at the very edge of starvation?? You really cannot tell the waiter to take your order away and bring it back with your partner’s order?? Of course a classy restaurant would never do that. Do we have classy restaurants in Ghana?

Shall we speak about tipping? It has ancient origins, but let’s talk in the present day. Countries like Japan are a joy because they don’t really expect tips. In the Netherlands last year I had to clarify to a white waitress that what I had just placed on the bill was a tip. In Sweden, you are expected to tip between 5 and 10%. In the USA, depending on the State or even the city, you are expected to tip between 15 to 25%. And you are really expected to tip! In Ghana?

There doesn’t seem to be an acceptable level of tipping. I believe in tipping and I do, but here’s the thing: I tip according to the service I get. That can be pretty varied in a Ghanaian restaurant. When tipping let common sense prevail: you don’t need to be rich, just kind.

A word on our non-existent manners when driving. I have a personal theory that if you display good manners when driving you help to generate goodwill, and therefore contribute to everyone arriving at their destination in a better frame of mind and in a good mood. Am I dreaming? Probably. But it’s a nicer dream than the nightmare that currently exists on our roads, where there are untold numbers of creatures trying very hard to masquerade as drivers. We force our way into traffic, create extra lanes as and when unnecessary, park any which way, shop in traffic, rubberneck where possible, contend with over-zealous police riders, and splash water on the nearest available pedestrian. Sound familiar at all?

Have I mentioned before on this blog that I love movies? Well, I do. And I love the cinema experience when I can get it. But Ghanaians will do all they can to destroy it for their fellow movie lover. They will talk loudly through the movie, laugh too loud and too long, and use mobile phones like the movie depends on it. From making and receiving calls, using the torch app, and just browsing on a bright screen, it’s a nonstop barrage of idiocy.

We haven’t even mentioned people who kick the seat in front of them, or those who stand up for too long to take something out of their back pocket. And when it comes to unwrapping or opening a snack the Ghanaian has no challenger in creating a ruckus. And this is all after you have had to endure a ticket queue from hell, where people stand at the front and take half an hour to decide what movie to watch, while your movie starts in five minutes.

Apparently, Ghanaians are very religious people. But that does not stop us from being rude in church. We talk loudly as we indulge in gossip, we use mobiles and tablets ostensibly for church ‘tins’ (hymns, gospel readings), we enter late through queue managers placed there to stop us, use the ‘peace’ to catch up on chats while shaking hands without looking at the person, humming intrusively after a hymn has ended, and making sure that everyone sees that you know the priest as you greet him at the end and start a long discourse on life. My God in heaven, how do You tolerate us in Your house??

What do you think of people who refuse to get off their phones while being served? You’ve all seen them recently I’m sure. Whether it’s at a shop counter, a table in a restaurant, in a public thoroughfare, or in a queue anywhere really. These obnoxious creatures steadfastly refuse to pause a conversation while the world waits for them. I hope they are on their phones when a certain St. Peter is waiting to question them about their final destination.

Ooh, I quite enjoyed that rant about the lack of manners in Ghana! Thank you for listening!

By the by, if you have any particular irritants, things that irk you about Ghanaian society, do let me know about them. Because I don’t think I’m quite done yet with my rant…

Source: Rami Baitie

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