On Not Speaking Ga/Twi.


I was born in the UK and have lived here all my life and since I was quite young, my sister and I were always questioned as to why we didn’t speak or understand Ga or Twi or why we haven’t even been to Ghana, Growing up, I never knew that it was an issue until people started to make it an issue. Something to be ashamed of even. Yes, I am one of those people who can’t speak or (barely) understand their background language, heck, I haven’t even been to Ghana yet. I am a full-blooded Ghanaian with two full-blooded Ghanaian parents. Yet, I don’t feel like it.

There’s a real sense of embarrassment when you don’t speak your language, especially when you look at your cousins for example, who are a lot younger than you can speak and understand the language and have also been to Ghana on more holidays than you have. I suppose I was constantly made to feel small because I couldn’t speak or understand the language my parents speak to each other all the time in our home and to our relatives when we go out. Since I believe that language is strongly linked in with culture, I feel that I am out of touch and missing out on different aspects of my Ghanaian heritage and culture. My parents have attempted to teach me and my sister our language by randomly asking us to do things in Ga or Twi but usually me and my sister just look at each other confused and reply in English, we do know a couple of phrases though. I began to think that the problem arose from childhood when my parents thought that we were like other kids and thought that we would just ”pick up” Ga and Twi like some of our cousins did, forgetting that those same cousins probably stayed in Ghana for long periods of time, were constantly spoken to in Ga and not English and therefore had to learn it. *sigh*

Despite all of this, I should be going to Ghana for the first time at the end of this year (Thank God) and it would be nice to finally meet some family members out there and see my country for what is really is, rather than hearing about it from my family or seeing pictures of people volunteering in villages there. I will learn my language eventually, but like learning all new languages at a certain age, you have that fear of sounding stupid and silly and not getting the accents and pronunciations correct, I just hope that it will pass quickly. I also hope that there is a time where I become like my dad and would visit Ghana frequently.


One thought on “On Not Speaking Ga/Twi.”

  1. Oh my darling! I loved the openness of this piece 🙂

    You are NOT alone. Many Africans in the Diaspora often struggle with this issue, and also often face judgement from Africans who do speak our languages fluently.

    I find that it is negative of others to judge so harshly.
    And I find that one need not speak an African language fluently to still embrace, represent and embody their culture.

    Our cultures are so rich that they go WAY beyond just our (beautiful) languages 🙂
    And nobody can take away your culture and heritage from you. No one!

    However, if you really would like to learn your language (as indeed it can only be a plus! :p), then I suggest that you make a sincere effort to do so.
    It is possible and it is never too late! 🙂

    Nowadays we have so much diverse African media available to us via the internet, plus you have your family. The two combined make a rich resource for you to draw from.

    Follow some of my language learning tips and perhaps, if you really wanted to do, you would find yourself speaking Ga or Twi 🙂


    But remember, even if you NEVER do learn to speak them, it is still OKAY. And you are not less connected to your culture for not being able to do so 🙂


    I hope to read more of your stuff :p

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