After living in Ghana for just over two months there are numerous expressions that Ghanian people say which don’t translate directly into English. During my first few weeks here I was often confused and didn’t exactly understand what the people were trying to say. I can recall many funny moments when these phrases were said and I was puzzled on how to respond.
“You’re invited”–No, this does not meet the person wants to invite you to a party or for a drink, this expression means “would you like some of my food?, you may come eat with me”. I was sitting at home and my host sister was eating biscuits on her bed and she said “you’re invited”. I stood there, having no idea whether she was inviting me to sit on her bed with her, or she was going to finish her sentence by inviting me to some event. She waved me over and gave me some biscuits and drink and explained that “you’re invited” means you are invited to eat with me, lets share this food. From then on I’ve understood the phrase and notice it used in my everyday life. The families that live across the road always yell when the food is ready, inviting me to almost every dinner. I would love to accept but I know that dinner is being prepared at my home as well.
“Are you getting me?”-This one just perplexed me from the start. People would talk to you and every once in a while ask this question. I would just nod along and assume I knew what they were saying when really I was wondering why they were asking if I was “getting” them. This question actually means “do you understanding what I am saying?”. Used throughout conversations this question is one you will just have to get used to in Ghana.
“Let’s pass”- When traveling to schools with the sexual assault program team our leader, Millicent, would scream this out constantly while walking. We didn’t know where we were going to she would try to direct us on the streets where to go. Let’s pass means “cross the road here”. We would be walking straight and she would scream let’s pass and the 5 of us would keep walking straight. It took a few screams and an explanation for us to comprehend the phrase which I now use everyday.
“I’m coming”-Sounds pretty simple right? You’re guessing this means when someone is out of sight and says I’m coming, means they will be approaching you soon and coming into view. In Ghana this phrase is said when someone is normally standing in front of you and is going to leave and come back. I was taken back when someone said I’m coming when they were standing right in front of me.
“Flash me”-No no no I know what you’re thinking…Ghanians can be upfront, but not that upfront. One of the people I work with had given me his number and immediately told me to flash him. I stood there in shock and then he pointed to my phone. Still perplexed, he realized I had no idea what that meant and explained to me that “flash me” means to call the number I just gave you so I will have your number too. After that I have been doing a lot of flashing…don’t worry Mom and Dad.