Christmas festivities in Ghana begin on 20 December and last until the first week of January. This religious festival coincides with Ghana’s end-of-year cocoa harvest, adding to the celebratory atmosphere in the country.
Local people who work far from home return to their families this time of year. And in schools, it’s common to find children making Christmas ornaments from crepe paper.
On Christmas Eve, you can spot an outdoor parade, led by local musicians, in many of Ghana’s bigger cities. And church services, where children present a nativity play or other festive drama, are also a big part of how Ghanains celebrate this holiday. It’s also common to hear church-goers singing traditional Christmas carols until late into the night.
HOW TO WISH GHANAIANS A MERRY CHRISTMAS
During the festive season, people in Ghana often say “Afishapa” to one another. The phrase comes from one of the country’s most commonly-spoken languages, Akan, and translates to “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Children also run around on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day shouting, “Egbona hee, egogo vo”, which means: “Christ is coming, he is near.”
The traditional Ghanaian Christmas spread includes dishes made of rice, chicken, goat, lamb, fufu and other Ghanaian staples.
Fufu is a starchy side, which is often made from mixing and pounding cassava – a potato-like vegetable – with a powdered green plantain, which is a fruit very similar to a banana. The two are mixed to make a paste that is then cooked.
Be careful... you could easily gain a few extra pounds! LOL. Over the festive season, it’s common to eat around four to five meals a day, as well as snacks in between.
With so much extra food going around, it’s easy to become an “obolo” – a term used to describe a person who gains weight in a short period of time.
Even if some families don’t have the means for regular meals, neighbours and friends often invite each other to join in on a set buffet throughout the two-week celebrations in December.
WHERE ARE THE BIGGEST CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS IN GHANA?
Accra, the capital city of Ghana, boasts the largest Christmas celebrations in the country. However, you’ll also find festivities taking place in other towns such as Kumasi, Tamale, Cape Coast, and Ashaiman.
Transportation And Security Tips
Considering the large number of people around and how the world is a scary place, you need to keep these security tips at your fingertips.
Hold On To Your Bags; Honestly, if you're not careful, your bags, purses and wallets may be snatched from you. You should hold on to your belongings especially when you’re struggling for a car at a “trotro” station or just walking around. In such occasions, you need to put your bags in front of you or at your side, secured firmly under your armpit.
Move-in groups; This is really necessary, especially at night. First of all, we do not recommend you walking at night but if you absolutely must, you need to move in groups. In as much as it’s not all that safe, it’s better than walking about on your own. At least, now if one guy wants to “kwashey”(rob) you, because you’re in a group, it will be a little hard to do.
Check the number plate of the cars you sit in; This is applicable when using Ride-hailing services ( eg; Uber, Bolt and Yango), Taxi’s and VIP buses. It’s not practical when dealing with Trotros because… well, they won’t wait for you to take a picture of the number plate before you move; unless of course, you’re getting the trotro at the trotro station.
Plan Your route; If you know the way to wherever you’re going, you need to keep it in mind. If you don’t too, you need to have Google Maps opened on your phone and following the route judiciously. If you don’t do these, it’s easy for you to be kidnapped. Even if the driver is passing a shortcut you need to be watching the road and make sure other cars are also passing there.
Send other people your location; You need to let people close to you know where you’re headed so that if something bad happens it’s easier to track your whereabouts. Once you’re in a car, you can send your current location on Whatsapp to anyone you trust.
Be observant; You need to keep checking your surroundings. Keep watching. No one is really your friend on the streets so mind your own business and keep walking or doing whatever it is you went out to do. If you feel like the vibe where you are isn’t okay, please LEAVE immediately. Trust your gut.
Make sure you have small denominations;
To have peace of mind, carry smaller denominations of money. With the introduction of the new GHS 100 and GHS 200 notes, please send those ones to the establishments you’re headed towards. Don’t plan on giving them to the drivers or hawkers cuz there’s a good chance that they won’t get the change you need and you’ll eventually even forget and remember later when you alight.
Ghana COVID-19 Travel Advice
Passengers arriving to Ghana are now required obtain a negative PCR test result not more than 72hrs before departure, complete additional health declaration forms on arrival, and undergo a further COVID test on arrival:
The Health Declaration Form can be accessed online at www.ghs-hdf.org. Passengers are strongly encouraged to fill out this form as it helps in complying with social distancing and other Covid 19 protocols on arrival in Ghana.
Coronavirus tests before departure
On 21 April 2021, the Government of Ghana introduced the mandatory digitisation of all COVID-19 tests for international air travel, with the implementation of the Trusted Travel scheme. Passengers travelling to Ghana MUST now comply with following:
1. Take a Polymerise Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID test with one of the listed providers within 72 hours of departure. Visit www.africacdc.org/trusted-travel for a certified list of providers. You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test to facilitate your travel to another country.
2. Create an account at www.trustedtravel.panabios.org with the same email address and mobile telephone number you provided for your PCR test. If your provider is unable to upload your test certificate on your behalf, you should enter your TT or BIOMARS code from your PCR certificate or upload the certificate yourself.
3. Whilst the system outlined in paragraphs 1&2(above) remains new we also recommend travelling with hard copy proof of this negative Polymerise Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test result, to present on arrival and departure
Children under the age of 5 are exempt. For passengers who have transited through other countries before arriving in Ghana, the first country of departure will be the reference point.
The same arrangements apply to passengers departing from Ghana, and you may not be allowed to leave board flights without uploading a certified Polymerise Chain Reaction (PCR) COVID test. Visit www.africacdc.org/trusted-travel for a certified list of providers in Ghana.
Further checks and forms upon arrival.
Upon arrival in Ghana, passengers are also required to:
4. Complete an online health declaration form pre-departure (If not completed before departure). All passengers may also be asked to complete hard copy self-declaration forms on the flight, confirming they are fit to travel and providing details to facilitate contact tracing.
5. Wear a facemask throughout their flight and upon landing in Accra.
6. Undergo a temperature check on arrival.
7. On arrival all passengers will be subjected to a mandatory COVID-19 test at Kotoka International airport. The test is an antigen fluorescent immunoassay test, and it will be conducted before baggage is collected at a cost of USD$50 for Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) nationals, and USD$150 for non-ECOWAS nationals. ECOWAS nationals must be in possession of a valid passport of their country of citizenship. Payment should be made online prior to boarding at www.myfrontierhealthcare.com. Children under the age of five are exempt.
During busy periods where there may be several passengers disembarking at the same time the testing area may become busy. Test results are normally ready within one hour, depending how busy the airport is. The pre departure area where test results are collected can also get busy. You can check your results online while you wait.
All arriving passengers should be prepared to comply with Ghana’s COVID-19 Health Protocols. This may, depending on the test result of individuals or others on the flight, involve time in quarantine or in a Government Health facility. Quarantine and / or medical costs can be expensive, so it is important that all passengers arrive with adequate access to financial resources.
Passengers arriving in Ghana are reminded that COVID-19 protocols at the airport may be subject to change as the new screening process evolves. See the guidance from the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority ( www.gcaa.com.gh), or the Ghana Airports Company Limited(www.gacl.com.gh ).
Transit passengers, except where they will remain in the airport throughout or those who were diverted to Accra for an emergency, will also be subject to mandatory COVID-19 testing as outlined above.
Ghana has not granted any visa exemptions or extensions for visitors during the pandemic so all British nationals will need to visit the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) office in person to extend their visas.
Regular entry requirements
If you are not a Ghanaian-British National, you need a visa to enter Ghana. Ghana’s UK visa service is operating. Visit the Ghana High Commission website on ( www.ghanahighcommissionuk.com to stay up to date and to make an online application. Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, the Ghana High Commission accepts postal applications only.
For UK and other nationals your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Ghana.