SQUIZ THE WORLD (1400 × 700px)

Squiz the World goes to … Ghana

Ghanaian Day Names: https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Day-born-names-in-Dagbani-Ewe-and-Fante-797733

The first ever rap song? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJU-vJ3atZ0

Classic highlife from the 1950s and 60s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3XE8zcDZxo

Hiplife mix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtxlRWoCT70

Jollof Rice recipe, thanks to the Ghanaian embassy: https://www.squizkids.com.au/rosies-recipes/squiz-kids-jollof-rice-thanks-to-the-ghanian-embassy-in-canberra/


Each week, we give the world globe a spin, and see where we land. Then we take the kids of Australia on an audio excursion to visit that country and its people.

I’m Amanda Bower, and today on Squiz the World we’re visiting the Gold Coast. Not the one in Queensland, but the one in sub-Saharan Africa… as in, all the countries in Africa south of the Sahara desert. It’s also famous for Highlife and Hiplife. Can you guess where we’re headed? It’s a tricky one, isn’t it?

Strap yourselves into the Squiz Kids Super Fast Supersonic Jetliner as we take off and take a squiz at Ghana …

Just the Facts
Ghana is in West Africa, above the equator. Its neighbours are Cote D’Ivoire and Togo, and before it became independent from England, it was known as The Gold Coast.

Now, the Gold Coast is Queensland is called that because after World War II, so many people were going there on holidays that it became quite expensive, and journalists started calling it the “gold coast” because you needed a lot of money to afford it.

But the country we now call Ghana was named the Gold Coast because, yes, it had a lot of actual gold. In actual fact, it was Portugese explorers who discovered gold between two rivers in Ghana, and their name for the area was “Costa de Ouro”, which means “Gold Coast”. Along came the Dutch in the late 1500s and set up Nederlandse Bezittingen ter Kuste van Guinea, then the Swedes jumped into the game in the mid 1600s with the Svenska Guldkusten, and the Danish with the Danske Guldkyst. Now, my Portuguese, Swedish and Danish aren’t what they used to be, but essentially everyone called it their Gold Coast. So it’s perhaps not surprising that when Britain took control of most of the area in 1874, they called it the Gold Coast.

With so many Europeans focusing only on the gold in the ground, it’s probably not surprising that when Ghana became independent, they went with a name that had nothing to do with gold. It means “Strong Warrior King,” and it’s a good fit, considering the Ashanti people of Ghana spent 100 years fighting the British from 1800 to 1900… and then when military action failed, the Ghanaian people began a campaign of non-violent protests, which finally led to independence.

Nowadays, Ghana is a democracy of 32 million people, and is said to be one of the freest and most stable countries in Africa. It’s considered a “multinational” country, because it is home to many different religious and ethnic groups. There are 12 official languages, including English and Ghanaian sign language!
Whenever you travel, it’s important to learn a few words in that country’s language. It’s a great way to show respect. So, let’s….

Learn the Lingo

“We are so lucky to have with us Squiz Kid Ewura Ama, who is 9 years old and lives in Ghana. Now, we all know how to speak English, so she’s going to teach us a few words in Asante Twi, which is spoken by about 4 million people. Ewura Ama, how do we say hello?


Go on, you give it a try! Agoo

People are always really grateful when you just try to speak their language. They may even thank you for it. Hey, Ewura Ama, how do we say thank you?

And medaase to you, too, Ewura Ama.

By the way, here’s a fun fact about names in Ghana —you automatically are given a name depending on what day of the week you were born. Ewura Ama was born on a Saturday, and Ama means “”Saturday””. I was born on a Saturday too, so if I were Ghanaian, I’d also be known as Ama… which come to think about it, is pretty close to Amanda.

Each day of the week has a female and male name, and each language has its own name … the girls’ usually start with A, and the boys with a K sound. One of Ghana’s most famous diplomats is, Kofi Annan, who was secretary general of the United Nations. “Kofi” is a word for Friday in the Asante Twi language. I’ll pop a link to the names of the days of the week into your episode notes, so you can see what your name would be if you were Ghanaian.

Well, now that we have Ghanaian names and can communicate a little bit, it’s….

Time for School
Kids in Ghana start school when they’re just four years old, and included in their daily lessons are music and dance, environmental studies, and PE. Fun!
Once they’re six, primary school starts in earnest, and is a lot like school in Australia… kids wear uniforms, they learn in English… although they do get one nutritious meal served to them, for free, at school each day!

But not all kids in Ghana go to formal school. Those who live out in the countryside, in small villages, are often not enrolled in school. Their parents are hard working farmers on small plots of land, and the kids help on the farm and at home. But the Ghanaian government, together with organisations from other countries who focus on education, started a program for them in the afternoons to help them learn to read, write, and do maths. They spend just nine months doing the program, and are then able to join school in year 4 or 5… and they learn incredibly quickly! They are also very resourceful… kids practice their reading with younger siblings, and even write on the walls of their homes to practice maths. I wonder how your parents would feel about you doing that?

One of the best things about visiting another country is immersing yourself – that means surrounding yourself – in a different culture. So…

Let’s Get Cultural
Do you like the Highlife? Or maybe the Hiplife?

These might sound like fancy ways of living, but they’re actually two styles of music that started in Ghana. Highlife started in the 19th century. Its roots are in traditional African music, but it’s typically played with Western instruments… we’re listening to Highlife now… if you’ve got a careful ear, you can probably pick up on jazzy horns and multiple guitars. In highlife, guitars are often played with two fingers plucking the strings, which is a very common way to play in Africa.

So what’s hiplife? Well, that’s highlife music, with hip hop lyrics, usually recorded in the Ghanaian Akan language. In fact, many people believe that the first ever rapper was a Ghanaian… Gyedu Blay Ambolley released a record in 1973, which was recorded in front of a small audience, when he was playing highlife music with fast-spoken, poetic lyrics. Some of them are in English, too! The song was called Simigwa-Do, and I’ll pop a link to a recording in your episode notes, as well as a mixtape of hiplife music that’s more recent. I dare you to try to stay still.

Phew! I’ve learned a ton about Ghana, and now I’m starving! I think it might be…

Dinner Time
Hands up if you like rice? It’s a staple food – meaning that it’s eaten often – for people all over the world. Ghana has 90 ethnic groups and 50 different languages spoken, and each group has its own special dishes… but jollof rice is eaten by EVERYONE. It’s also very popular in Nigeria and Senegal, and each country claims that it is the original creator of jollof rice. Sounds a bit like the pavlova debate between New Zealand and Australia…

Our friends at the Ghanaian Embassy in Canberra have sent Squiz Kids their favourite jollof rice recipe, so we know we have a really authentic one! Even better, it’s super simple to make… rice, of course, with onions, tomatoes, other veggies, and a bunch of spices. It’s usually served with chicken, beef, or a salad. I know what I’m cooking for dinner tonight..

I’ll pop a link to the recipe in your episode notes, so you can give it a go, too! And don’t forget to say medaase to the embassy when you dig in…

The S’Quiz
This is the part of the podcast where you get to test how well you’ve been listening.

Question 1. What was Ghana called when it was a colony of Britain?
Question 2. What’s the name of a new form of Ghanaian music, that takes highlife music and adds fast lyrics?
Question 3. If you’re a girl in Ghana, your name will probably start with what letter?