Ghana Cultural Challenges
You must complete 10 of these by the end of the semester. Each report needs to be 1-2 pages
long. You may add other experiences to the list – this is only a beginning list of ideas! But get
my approval beforehand for each new challenge you wish to pursue.
You should plan to turn these write-ups in throughout the semester and be prepared to discuss
your experiences doing them. (Don’t wait until the end!) Finally: this in an honor system! You
should search for answers yourself!
1. Find out what a Zongo is and where it is located.
2. Buy a map of Accra. What do you notice about Accra from the map?
3. Visit Jamestown (not alone; go with a Ghanaian). What are your impressions? What is its
4. Negotiate with a tailor to have clothes made. What are the intricacies of the negotiation?
5. Go to a performance at the National Theater. How does it compare to a performance at
6. Discuss last years (December) Ghanaian presidential election with at least 3 Ghanaians
(and not your politics professor!). How do their impressions compare to YOUR
impressions (based on your reading of the newspapers).
7. Discuss the last years (November) US presidential election with at least 3 Ghanaians (and
your politics professor doesn’t count!) How do their impressions compare to YOUR
8. Go to a service at one of the new mega-churches, prosperity gospel churches (e.g.,
Winners’ Chapel). What struck you about the service? How does it compare to a church
service at home?
9. Go to a Ghanaian church service. Describe your experience.
10. Go to some type of Ghanaian ceremony (funeral, wedding, festival) beyond the Odwira.
11. Volunteer someplace at least once. Ask me for a few names of places. After doing so,
what are your impressions? How was the experience? What did you do?
12. Read a novel, play or poetry by a Ghanaian that WASN’T assigned by your literature
professor; ask Prof. Nanbigne for a suggestion. What does the novel teach you about
Ghana? About Africa?
13. Visit a play or other performance put on by the theater or music department at the
university. How is the performance different/similar to performances in the US?
14. Learn more about the market women: How do they run their business? What is a typical
day like for them? What are the challenges they face? Talk to some of them.
15. Visit University Basic School (or another school) and observe how classes work, students
learn, etc. (You need to talk to the head mistress for approval before you do this. And
don’t all go as a group.) What are your impressions? How does it compare to a school at
16. Go to a market such as Makola or Medina to buy food (not the night market) and then go
to the mall’s supermarket Shoprite or to Max Mart. How do they compare? What are
quality and price differences on items? What is ONLY available at the market or
supermarket? Who shops at each?
17. Get someone to tell you 2 or 3 Ananse and Ntikuma stories. (Not the one about
knowledge in your book, though!) Summarize and explain the lessons the stories teach.
18. Learn 3 proverbs in Twi. What do the proverbs mean? Are there rough English
equivalents for the proverbs? (e.g., “A penny saved is a penny earned.”)
19. Revisit the national museum. Look at all the exhibits and compare the museum to a large
museum in the USA/Canada that you have visited (e.g., Smithsonian).
20. Ride the tro-tro as a social observer all the way through its route. (You will ride the tro-
tro a lot. However, this time do it as a social scientist.) Who rides the tro-tro? What is the
job of the mate or apprentice? What are the formal or informal rules about tro-tro
driving? Tro-tro riding?
21. Meet an expatriate who works/lives in Ghana. What does s/he do? Why is s/he here?
22. Go to the university Botanical Garden and find out the history of the garden. Talk to a
curator about the plants/trees there. Learn about 3 different plants/trees and their
importance to the ecosystem, to farmers, to traditional medicine, etc.
23. Ask 3 different Ghanaians who they think the 10 most important Ghanaians (living or
dead) are. How do their answers compare? Make sure YOU know who these Ghanaians
24. Join a sports club for your dorm—or another dorm. How does playing intramurals in
Ghana differ from playing intramurals at Calvin?
25. Learn more about the Indian, Lebanese, or Chinese communities in Accra. When did they
come here? Why did they come here? What types of businesses are they involved with?
Ask Ghanaians, but also try to talk to someone in these communities.
26. Ask 2 Ghanaian parents what children do for fun in Ghana. What games do they play?
What chores do they have? How do the answers differ, depending on whom you ask and
27. Visit Frederiksgave Plantation. How does the visit help you better understand Ghana’s
history? How does the visit help you better understand the experience at Cape Coast?
28. Find out the significance of the names of at least 5 of the buildings and/or roads on
campus. For example: Mensah Sarbah? Akuafo? K.A. Busia? Noguchi? E.A. Boateng?
29. Try each of the following: fufu, kenkey, Jollof rice, banku, red-red, kelewele, tuo zaafi
(TZ), and waakye. Which did you like most? Least? Why? How is each made? What are
30. Visit the Goldweights exhibit at IAS. What did you learn? Summarize 4 main lessons.
31. Visit the W.E.B. DuBois Center. Who was DuBois? Why was he important in Ghana’s
I will grade your challenges and excursion journal entries with a check, check +, or check -. You
will get a B on this part of the course grade with just checks (and no check+). A check+ shows
not just a summary of the ideas or experience, but some critical thought about the experience and
some attempt to link it to classroom readings, speakers, or discussions or other learning
experiences in Ghana. At least 5 check+ are needed to get an A on the cultural challenges and 3
check+ for the excursions.