Gone to Ghana

Appropriate Inappropriate Laughter November 20, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — slrussell @ 9:02 am

One of the things that I have found difficult to understand here is the humour.  I have always heard before that humour is very culture specific but had not really experienced this so obviously until coming to Ghana.  Ghanaians laugh a lot.  Very hearty laughter, really the best kind, nothing wrong with that, right?  The thing I have found hard is how people can sometimes laugh so hard at an event I would generally find it very inappropriate to laugh about.  For example, death is very common in Jirapa but you will often hear loud laughter when a person recounts the story about how so and so died.  Or maybe there was an accident.  Poverty and tragedy are frequently joked about here in the office.  After today I have a better understanding of how a person can laugh at a time like this.


Today and yesterday were not the best days.  In fact, they were awful days.  I won’t list all of the little mishaps and frustrations in detail.  The brief summary goes like this: driver 2 hours late to take us to workshop therefore Sandra 2 hours late for her own workshop; Director very angry at driver but even more angry when Sandra attempts to find her own way to the town she needs to be in; driver very angry with Sandra for getting him in trouble with Director; 18 people show up for the workshop, we only have money to give the 12 who were invited, workshop begins with argument; Sandra sits by and watches as guests are rude to the staff at the guesthouse and treat them very poorly; Sandra spends evening sneaking around the convent to avoid boy who “knew the first minute he saw her that their relationship would last forver;” Sandra insulted (or at least that’s the way it was taken) in her own workshop due to her skin colour and has to leave because she is so hurt; Sandra gets a “loving scolding” from Sister because of a miscommunication with her by others who work in the office.  So, yeah, it wasn’t the best.


When I got home I decided I would make some popcorn as a treat to make it all go away.  In doing so I may have (okay, I did) tried to do too many things at once and left the pot of oil on the gas stove unattended for a few minutes too long.  When I lifted the lid of the pot there was a whoosh of oxygen which resulted in a flaming tower above the pot.  It was huuuuuuuge. And then I started to laugh.  I laughed and laughed and laughed until I could hardly breathe.  And now I understand how Ghanaians can laugh when it seems so inappropriate to do so.  You either laugh or you cry.



3 Responses to “Appropriate Inappropriate Laughter”

  1. kristen Says:

    I’m sorry you had such a terrible day, but i bet the laugh felt good. Do you still have eyebrows?

  2. Sandra #2 Says:

    Kind’a like Dr Hibbert on the Simpson’s : )

  3. Tonya Says:

    Hi Sandra. I am sorry to hear how bad your day was. It sounds like you made it through the day and were victorious in not having to battle a fire. Imagine that? I guess that would have been a really bad day.
    Hang in there…………..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s