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Accra, Ghana
Accra, GhanaAccra, Ghana

Ghanaian Slang

Ghana is a country with seven major languages: Twi, Ga, Fanti, Ewe, Dangbe, Hausa and English, to help, here are a few key words for visitors to pepper in conversation

Written by
Daniel Neilson

Many Ghanaians speak English or Pidgin English mixed in with words from these local languages to create a distinct way of speaking that is unique to Ghana.

It is a commonly known fact that although many Africans and people of African descent speak Pidgin English it is slightly different in every country.

Below is a simplified guide to some slang and tribal terms commonly used among Ghanaians. 

Akata: a foreigner usually an African-American

Akpeteshie: This locally brewed spirit is made from fermented palm wine and is highly intoxicating (like moonshine) also known as Apio.

Akwaaba – Welcome

Alata: A term commonly used to describe Nigerians, to their great displeasure as it means pepper seller in their language. (Derived from the Yoruba language)

Asem: Problem(s) (Akan term)

Aunty: In West Africa the title aunty is given to any older woman to whom deference is shown.

Awam: The word awam, meaning fake, is derived from the abbreviation for the Association of West African Merchants that duped citizens out of their hard earned money.

Azaa: Dubious

Babylon: England

Boga: A Ghanaian living abroad, this word originated from the word Hamburger after residents of Hamburg many of who are of Ghanaian origin. 

Chale: Friend (Ga term)

Chalewotey: the word for Flip-flops. ‘Chale’ in Ga means friend or buddy and ‘Wote’ means ‘let's go.’ So literally the word Chalewotey means ‘my friend let’s go’ and is a perfect description for the ease with which flip-flops are worn.  (Ga term)

Chao: a lot, plenty

Cho: Food, as in ‘Where de cho dey?’, ‘Where is the food?’

Chop bar: A restaurant that operates mainly by the roadside and serves a variety of local dishes.

Eti sen: An equivalent to a ‘hi, how are you?’ but is literally translated as ‘how is it?’ to which the response would be ‘ɛyɛ’ (eh-yeh) ‘it’s good’ or ‘it’s fine’. (Akan term)

Hot: to be under pressure; ‘chale I’m hot!’, ‘I’m under pressure!’

Jot: Cigarette

Kubolor: Someone that enjoys wandering and ‘roaming’. (Ga term)

Obroni: White man or white person.

Obroni waawu: Secondhand clothing. It literally means ‘the dead white man’, to signify the clothes that came from Europe.

Saa: ‘Is that so?’ (Akan term).

Sakora: Bald headed, a totally shaven head.

Sankofa: A popular adinkra proverb derived from the twi language that literally means ‘go back and get it’. For example, if you’ve forgotten your roots you can always go back and retrace your steps. (Akan term)

Skin pain: Jealousy

Tro tro:  Also ‘trosky’, a mini bus used for public transportation. Tro tro drivers are notorious for their bad driving. They usually have some interesting slogan or the other inked on the rear windscreen. (Ga term

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