Why are Ghanaians so different from...?

Ghana’s foremost playwright James Ebo Whyte, aka Uncle Ebo, features on Monday and Thursday mornings on his programme Food for Thought on Joy FM.

On Monday, October 9, 2023, he concluded his piece with a quote from a question asked by a Dutch hotelier in Amsterdam. 

However, before the question, he told two related stories.

He started with the story of a young lady Joana, who, soon after leaving the university, landed a good job with the German organisation GIZ. 

GIZ (German Agency for International Cooperation) is an international enterprise owned by the German government, operating in many fields in over 130 countries.

However, Joana’s honeymoon apprenticeship as an assistant Human Resource (HR) Manager was short-lived, as her boss left the organisation before she could settle down. 

She, therefore, found herself virtually thrown into the deep end of the pool, with her required to make major decisions on her own.

Sooner than later, Joana’s first test/task was to organise a meeting in Accra.

One of the topics to be spoken on was a course she had taken at the university.

She, therefore, asked her employers if she could have her lecturer as a resource person/facilitator for the programme. 

Following a positive response, she happily told her lecturer about the offer.

 He was elated, as the opportunity, among others, would oil his pocket with a healthy remuneration!


When it came to his turn to contribute to the programme, the lecturer decided to advise Joana. 

He started by stating how lucky she was to have got such a good job soon after leaving the university, considering the high graduate unemployment rate in Ghana.

He advised her to work hard and not behave like the typical Ghanaian with a half-hearted approach to work. 

He continued by asking her to be mindful of punctuality and not be late for functions as most Ghanaians do. 

Under the guise of advising her, the lecturer rambled on saying all the negative things about the Ghanaian attitude and asking Joana to desist from them. 

One could hear a pin drop in the silence that engulfed the hall as the audience cast wistful glances of disapproval among themselves!

When the lecturer ended, there were murmurs of disapproval of his lacklustre performance.

 Indeed, the Chairman did not mince words of his disapproval when he asked, “So what did you teach your student/s in the university?”

The next meeting Joana had to organise was at Elmina.

 This time, she decided to replace her male lecturer with a female lecturer who had taught her.

Elmina lecture

For lunch at the lecture at Elmina, Joana innovatively decided to add fufu and goat meat light soup, aka “aponkye nkrakra”, to the menu.

When she saw the heavy patronage of the “fufu”, especially the goat meat, she quickly went to her madam lecturer who was busy chatting with a friend, to go serve herself before the goat meat was finished. 

Madam said “Okay” and continued chatting.

 Joana then left the dining hall for the lecture hall to prepare for the next lecture after lunch.

Meanwhile, as Joana had anticipated, the heavy patronage of the fufu and goat light soup had resulted in the total demolition of the goat meat!

Before the next lecture started, the angry Madam Lecturer, in the full glare of organisers/participants, confronted Joana and reprimanded her, asking what HR person she was if she could not organise ordinary fufu and goat light soup with enough goat meat for everybody!

Again, there was disapproval from the audience at what they considered an unwarranted attack on Joana! Uncle Ebo’s last story happened in Amsterdam, Holland.


A Ghanaian hotelier in Amsterdam (Kwadwo) went out of his way to host Ghanaian guests anytime they came around, with excellent service in the hotel.

Incidentally, his assistant was a Nigerian (Tunde) who extended similar courtesies to Nigerians.

One day, the Dutch manager asked Kwadwo a question which took him by surprise.

He asked, “Why are you Ghanaians so different from Nigerians?” 

Asked why such a question, the Dutch manager explained that he had observed over time that while the Ghanaians praised Kwadwo for his exceptional service when they were with him, behind his back, they asked the Dutch manager to sack Kwadwo for inefficiency! 

On the other hand, the Nigerian clients constantly asked for promotion for Tunde, hence his question!


Some people I have chatted with on the lines of Uncle Ebo’s story are initially dismissive of it because it is negative! 

However, after a few personal examples by others in support of Uncle Ebo’s story, recounting their own experiences both in and outside Ghana, the initial nationalistic enthusiasm fades away quickly, giving way to reality. 

If we are not happy with the Dutch manager’s comparison between Ghanaians and Nigerians because it casts us in a bad light, why do we continue with the bad things we do? 

A recent video clip of the famous waterfalls at Kintampo saddened me.

 For a country which prides itself on a monopoly of ‘first-ever’ to do many things, the Kintampo waterfalls could be the ‘first-ever’ waterfall to have cascading brown clay water, the result of ‘galamsey!’

Again, this has been officially denied, just as was done about Rivers Ankobrah, Birim, Offin and Pra initially.

Perhaps, Ghana may boast to be the ‘first-ever’ country to convert its rivers into poisonous sludges of mercury, lead arsenic and cyanide.

In a scathing attack, while defending his countrymen as contributing to galamsey in Ghana, the Chinese Ambassador asked why there is no galamsey in South Africa which has more gold than Ghana. 

He told Ghanaians in the face to blame themselves, a modern-day rendition of “remove the plank from your eyes, before removing the speck in your neighbour’s eye!” (Matthew 7:12)

In the 1965 Summer graduation of cadets at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, UK, Queen Elizabeth told the cadets: “Remember always that the best and purest form of leadership is by example!”

Can our leaders tell God when/if they pray that they lead by example?

Leadership, lead! Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is the former CEO of the African Peace Support Trainers Association, Nairobi, Kenya/Council Chair Family Health University College, Accra.  

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