There are over 80 languages spoken throughout Ghana. While the majority of the population does indeed speak English, each area also speaks a native language. In Legon, the most common language apart from English is Twi. Now that classes are (for the most part) up and running, I can confidently say about three phrases in Twi. Oh yea, big time!! The first phrase is akwaaba, which means welcome. I realize that I so rudely forgot to include this statement in my first entry, so please, you are welcome…akwaaba! Next, I’ve learned the common exchange:
How are you?
I’m fine, and you?
In Twi this is:
Wo ho te sen?
Me hoye, wo nso e?
Still with me? Oh yea, I forgot to mention that in Twi there are two extra letters in the alphabet and the entire language is based on tone, so the way you say the words also determines what they mean. It’s a tricky language to say the least. My favorite part of Twi, however, has been learning about names. In Ghana, children are named first for the day of the week that they were born on. Later in life, they may receive another name based on their religion. From my experiences in meeting Ghanaians, I would say that about half go by their day name and the other from their religious name. I personally enjoyed receiving my Ghanaian name so I would like you all to join me and discover your own.
Each day of the week has a male and female name associated with it. Look back to the date, month and year you were born and find the day of the week and your new name! (I’ve put pronunciations in parentheses for the tricky ones)
Days of the Week Boy’s Name Girl’s Name
Sunday Kwasiada Kwasi Akosua
Monday Dwoada Kwadwo (Kojo) Adwoa (Adjwa)
Tuesday Benada Kwabena Abenaa
Wednesday Wukuada Kwaku (Kway-koo) Akua (Aqua)
Thursday Yawoada Yaw (Yao) Yaa
Friday Fiada Kofi Afua/Afia
Saturday Memeneda Kwame Amma
As for me, I am Tuesday born so my new name is Christine Stephanie Abenaa Fukuda. Really rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?
Before I let you go there is one more Twi word that I have learned in my time here. This one didn’t take long to understand and did not require the help of my Twi professor. The word oburoni (oh-bro-nee) is the term for anyone from outside of Africa, or in other words, a white person. While it sounds like an offensive, stereotypical label, the locals have explained to us that it is more of a term of endearment. So I am doing my best not to be offended when someone refers to me as an oburoni. Maybe now that I have my Ghanaian name, I will seem less like an oburoni and more like a true Ghanaian…or maybe that’s just wishful thinking!