Kwaku Ricky!

While English is the language taught in school and the language of commerce in Ghana there are also many traditional languages spoken. Of these Twi (tchwee) is the most universally understood, although many people will speak another language unique to their region.

Today, day three of our in-country orientation, was an introduction to Twi for visitors. The first Twi word any visitor to Ghana will learn is “akwaaba” meaning welcome. This is as it should be; in my short time here I have found Ghanaians to be incredibly welcoming people. In our crash course we covered greetings, courtesies and names in two short hours. There are no latin or greek cues to assist in connecting the various phrases to some scrap of French or Portuguese or English so it was pretty much rote memorization.

Like many languages and cultures other than English, how one is called in Ghana has much variety and richness. An adult of similar age is often called brother or sister, or if similar in age to one’s parents then uncle or auntie. These are considered terms of respect not familiarity. You may be called by your “day name” associated with the day of the week on which you were born, by your serial named derived from your place in birth order, or by your Christian name.

Day names and serial names differ by gender. A girl born on Wednesday is called Akua while a boy is called Kwaku. As it turns out, I am a Wednesday baby so Kwaku Ricky it is!