Tuesday, July 6, 2010
You Are Invited
Ghanaians are nothing if not hospitable. Two phrases that I hear most often here are akwaaba ("you are welcome") and "you are invited." What is most fantastic about these phrases is that people actually mean them. You ARE welcome into their homes, shops, taxis, city, country...they love meeting new people and are always willing to share what they have, even if they don't have much. Yesterday I passed one of the employees at an internet cafe eating on the stairs. He invited me to share his food-- he really was offering to give me some of his lunch. He would not have been surprised or offended if I had reached into his bowl with my bare hands to take a bite of rice. While I'm a bit concerned about the lack of hygiene, I always appreciate the gesture :). However, it's important to understand that hospitality works both ways. One of the other volunteers told her host family that they were invited to eat some of her crackers, expecting the family to politely decline. She was surprised to find her entire package of crackers disappear before she got home from work. She had invited them, after all!