Entertainment is not hard to find throughout the country. Be it highlife music, jazz, performing arts, African dancing, theatre, cinema or video rental, all are available and accessible once you know where to find them.
Highlife music is the form of entertainment that first comes to mind in Ghana, and although it is not quite as everywhere as one might imagine, there are several venues where you can hear wonderful highlife music and dance the night away.
Highlife is a tradition in Ghana that traces back to the Fante recreational music of the southwest coast of Ghana, which was subsequently influenced in part by military marching music and other Western music played by regimental bands of the European forts in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Other outside influences came from sea shanties - tunes introduced by seamen from the Caribbean, the Americas and neighbouring African countries, played on portable instruments such as guitar, banjo and harmonica. A third influence on highlife was the hymns introduced by missionaries and school teachers, popular among the Christian-educated Ghanaian elite.
This local and African neo-folk style became generically known as "highlife" in the 1920s, when it was incorporated into the repertoires of the high-class dance orchestras and spread throughout Ghana. Subsequently, many variations of highlife evolved such as "palmwine" music and "Ashanti blues", and eventually it was also influenced by the swing bands introduced by the Allied troops, culminating in a fusion of swing, calypso and Afro-Cuban music.
Contemporary highlife incorporates pop, soul, jazz, and Afro-beat as well as reggae and disco. More recently, there has been an upsurge of gospel-highlife bands, which have introduced many female singers to the stage.
Groups to look out for are the famous African Brothers, George Darko, Daddy Lumba, the City Boys, Pat Thomas, Paapa Yankson, Pozo Hayes, and for gospel-highlife bands; the Tagoe Sisters, Daughters of Glorious Jesus, Suame Pentecost Fire Band, to name a few. However, nowadays you will find more than just highlife. Many of the clubs play the latest American, European and Caribbean music. In fact, you can find just about any musical genre if you look around.
In Accra and other major centres, there are nightclubs with Western popular music and Afro beat. Concerts can be seen at the national theatre in Accra. The School of Performing Arts, University of Ghana, Legon often hosts drama, poetry and cultural dancing shows. Foreign and Ghanaian films can be seen at the Ghana Film Theatre and Executive Film House in Accra.
Food and Drink
International food is available in most large hotels and many restaurants serve a range of local traditional foods. On the coast, prawns and other seafood are popular. Dishes include traditional soups (palmnut, groundnut), Kontomere and Okro (stews) accompanied by fufu (pounded cassava), kenkey or gari. In Accra there are also restaurants serving Middle Eastern, Chinese, French and other European cuisine. Local beer (which is similar to lager) and spirits are readily available.
Cinemas and Movies
Most Ghanaian cinemas are open air. There are few air-conditioned, indoor theatre which shows many recently released Ghanaian and foreign as well as children's films.
Although nice cinemas are few, you can always rent a video! There are many video rental shops, most of which carry PAL/SECAM (British system) tapes, although quite a few also stock American-standard NTSC. Prices vary depending on how recent the films are.
Cultural Entertainment And Drama
Cultural centers of other countries also offer exciting entertainment through visiting troupes and shows. There are several drama groups in Ghana.
Music And Live Bands
Of course, for private parties, you can hire a live band! Just ask around - they can be found through personal reference.
Almost all commodities, including luxury items, can be found in the shops and markets. Artefacts from the Ashanti region and northern Ghana can be bought along with attractive handmade gold and silver jewellery. Modern and old African art is also available (although prices are high), in particular, Ashanti stools and brass weights formerly used to measure gold. In all the northern markets, earthenware pots, leatherwork, locally woven shirts and Bolgatanga baskets woven from multi-coloured raffia are sold. Shopping hours: Mon-Tue, Thurs-Fri 0800-1200 and 1400-1730, Wed-Sat 0800-1300.
Ghanaian festivals are well worth seeing, with drumming, dancing and feasting. Every part of the country has its own annual festivals for the affirmation of tribal values, the remembrance of ancestors and past leaders, and the purification of the state in preparation for another year.
Ghanaians should always be addressed by their formal titles unless they specifically request otherwise. Handshaking is the usual form of greeting. It is customary in much of West Africa not to use the left hand for touching food. Photography: Permission should be sought before photographing military installations, government buildings or airports. Tipping: When a service charge is not included, a 10 per cent tip is usual.