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CONFESSIONS OF AN OBRUNI

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Back in the arms of Mother Ghana!

I want to give you an explanation for title of my article as well as give you insight to a few of my favorite words from Ghana. People always ask me-Do they speak English in Ghana? First things first-YES! Most people do speak English in Ghana, including teachers. Students are instructed in English as well as Fante.

At the Teach on the Beach house (TOB from here on out), one of our wonderful scholars, Emmanuel, instructs us in daily Twi lessons. Twi is one of a few languages commonly spoken in Ghana, the other primary language being Fante. For the most part we all stick to English; the small language barrier is usually a difference in dialect rather than language. (For example, the pronunciation of Busua ranges from 'boo-si-yah' to 'booze-wah'. Only a minor hiccup when trying to hail a taxi).

Here I turned to urbandictionary.com for help-interpret as you wish.

obruni (o-bro-knee)-Ghanaian term for a person from outside of Africa. Usually referring to whites but sometimes black tourists as well.

This is one of my favorite Ghanaian terms. As you walk through the streets or whiz by on a motorbike, children and adults alike usually shout, "OBRUNI! OBRUNI!" as they smile and wave at you. It's a term of endearment roughly translating to "Hey there white person!" I usually shout back "obibini!" meaning "Hey there black person!" Let me tell you, if you ever need a self-confidence booster, walk through a group of small children in Ghana.

akwaaba (uh-kwah-buh)-A word meaning "welcome". It is a Twi word, spoken by the Ahan tribe of Ghana. Akwaaba could be a slogan for Ghana. Anywhere you see or hear akwaaba, you know you are more than welcomed. This can be found on signs at airports, hotels, taxis or even places of business all over Ghana.

medace pa (med-ah-see paw)-thank you very much
One would think you need to learn to say please before you learn to say thank you, but this one is just too good to pass up. General rule of thumb-slapping on a nice 'pa' to the end of a word is the equivalent of adding '-ly' to the end of an English word, it's a booster of appreciation. Usually strung out like such, "Those lemon pancakes were delicious Florence. Medace pa pa pa!" It's a fun word to say. Go ahead, try it. See-you can't help but smile!

...after that round about mini lesson in Ghanaian language, you can see where I got my title, "confession of an obruni." My thoughts, my observations and my input into life as a visitor to Ghana. Stay tuned for more lessons in Twi in the weeks to come! Until then, nanti ye (goodbye)!

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