Akwaaba! Here's Your Guide to Ghanaian Slang

So you're heading to Ghana but you're nervous about the language barrier. Honestly, you shouldn't worry yourself [too] much as most places that you'd probably visit would have persons that speak both the native language as well as English. But, it's always helpful to know a bit of the language as it will come in handy.


Here are a few words/phrases to familiarise yourself with:


Akwaaba: One of the first words that you'll hear upon your arrival in Ghana and it means - welcome!


A beg: Can you guys what this means? Literally, it means "I beg, Please". You may hear this when someone is pleading with you and essentially asking for mercy


Ahgo: The city of Accra is a pretty densely populated area so there is a 99% chance that you will get in the way of someone and they'll simple shout - AHGO which means, move out of the way


Dabi: This is probably one of my favourite words (after Akwaaba) means it means no.


Chale: this is an endearing team - it means friend or buddy!


Chalewotey: is technically the word for Flip-flops but you might hear this word as it's also the name of a popular festival in Ghana,

But, Chale means friend while ‘Wote’ means ‘let's go.’ So literally the word Chalewotey means ‘my friend let’s go'!


Kelewele: If you know me, you know that I'm a fan of kelewele and I'm pretty amazing at cooking it too! It's a "fast food" item which is simply diced ripe plantains marinated in ginger, onions, pepper which is then deep fried and later served in paper with a toothpick.


Medaase: means 'thank you'.


Shitɔ: You cannot visit Ghana without tasting this. Matter of fact, I can't imagine anyone going into any Ghanaian establishment where you can't readily find it because it's pepper and all africans love their food hot - especially those from the west! It's black in color and made with crayfish and so flavourful that we pretty much put it on everything!


Trotro: is the term that refers to a minibus or small van that is used for public transportation. Truthfully, I'm not a huge fan of Trotro drivers as they are notorious for their bad driving. But then again, a lot of drivers on the roads of Ghana are notorious for their driving skills - it'd leave it up to you to deduce whether it's good or bad. One this for sure, it's not should or extraordinary.


Eti sen: This is a greeting which means ''hi, how are you?' to which the response would be ‘ɛyɛ’ (eh-yeh) 'it’s good' or 'it’s fine'.



Now that you've learnt a few key phrases and important words, you're well on your way to being an honorary Ghanaian!

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© 2023 by Bernadette Chikowore