Friday, December 12, 2008

Ghanaian Humor

Two days ago, on the way to work, I had Odompo the Ghanaian actor in my car. Ato (my brother) sat in the back seat. We wanted to find out the latest on the election. Atlantis fm was playing music as usual, Joyfm was playing their Efpack commercial (the punchline being efpack, blows your pain away. lol), so we flipped through the channels till we got to Adom. Adom FM was giving us news. It was in twi, it sounded interesting so decided to listen. Good thing we did because it cheered me up for the rest of the morning.

Adom was reporting this piece of news from the bbc about a chinese girl who lost her hearing in one ear after his boyfriend kissed her. Now the news article from bbc is ridiculous enough, with comments like
"While kissing is normally very safe, doctors advise people to proceed with caution, wrote the China Daily"

But imagine this news being read in twi, with comments like ei, wo nim abrɔfo ɔmo adeɛ yi a ɛyɛ ɔmo yɛ yi, mekyerɛ kissing (tr:you know the thing that white people like to do, i mean kissing). hilarious! And then the reporter proceeded to comment saying something like "ɛneɛ agoro bɔne paa na ɔmo dii yɛ" (tr: they must have really played a bad game) which had us all in stitches and we started our own commentary in the car, in between laughter. Ato was acting out the typical Ghanaian child response to hearing talk of "taboo topics"; he was laughing but trying to restrain himself and pretending he wasn't really paying attention, exactly the same as I used to act when, watching tv with the parents, we saw a kissing scene-I'd be stiff, look elsewhere, and do all to look like I wasn't watching. Odompo asked "ei, eneɛ ɔmo kiss e bɛyɛ 3 hours anaa?" (tr: they must have kissed for about 3 hours). And I chipped in "ebi a na ɔbaa naa na so pɛ si esi dada (perhaps the girl's hearing was already begging to be lost). It was all just so funny, and as we finally moved on from the topic, it occured to me how messed up it is that we were laughing so hard about a piece of news that really isn't funny at all. When someone loses his/her hearing, that's not usually funny but I still laugh as I write this.

By the way I found this great photo of Ghanaians kissing on Nana Kofi Acquah's photo blog. He's a Ghanaian professional photographer. When it comes to photography in Ghana, Steve Ababio is another name you should know.

If you can't read/understand twi, please pardon me for the use of so much twi in this entry. There is just no other way to tell today's story. Sometimes english simply doesn't capture aspects of the Ghanaian life.


  1. That must have been some serious fun, huh? When people around here pretend to be surprised by 'taboo topics' these days, it is only for dramatic or humour effect. Nothing is quite taboo here anymore.

  2. Nothing is taboo? Not even same-sex relationships?

  3. Ok, downgrade nothing to pretty little.

  4. Chic,

    As usual you got me cracking up with this piece! Nice one. Keep it up!...and honestly, going through Nana Kofi Acquah's photo blog yesterday made me start wandering whether i shouldnt take up photography as a hobby myself.A rather strange feeling from the usual die hard camera shy me. lol!

    Anyhoo, just keep the fire burning sista.

  5. "While kissing is normally very safe, doctors advise people to proceed with caution, wrote the China Daily"

    I also thought this article was ridiculous. I actually found the above statement so hilarious!!!!!!!! I would have loved to be in the car with you guys, listening to Adom fm. I can imagine how funny the whole issue sounded in the "thick" Twi that is spoken on that station. LOL!

  6. The good news is that it's not permanent hearing loss--the report went ahead to say she'll regain her hearing in 2 months or so.

    But yeah--news, especially foreign news, in Twi is the best thing after straightup concert party :) The personality the newsreader's got the better! The poignancy (or drama) is simply deep!!