Diversity in Legon

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CIEE wants all our students to feel welcomed, supported, and empowered to succeed while studying abroad. On this page, local CIEE staff have provided details about conditions and cultural attitudes that students with specific identities might encounter at their location. 

The information below is just a broad overview so if you have specific questions or concerns not covered here, please email inclusion@ciee.org. We would be glad to have local staff share their perspectives, talk with you about accommodations, connect you with resources, and/or put you in touch with a program alum who could speak about their experiences navigating a program in this location.

No matter where you choose to study abroad with CIEE, our staff—all of whom receive regular and comprehensive training in diversity, equity, and inclusion—will be on hand throughout your program to provide advice, resources, and support regarding these issues. 

Body Size/Image

There is a general perception among quite a number of Ghanaian people that a big body size is indicative of living a good life.  People with more rounded body features are perceived as more beautiful than those with slender or slim features. In recent times however, plus size persons tend to be perceived as unhealthy. 

Disability

Generally, in Legon, people with disability are faced with a number of challenges. There can be an attitude in Ghana that training and/or education of people with disabilities is a waste of family and society resources. Many buildings, vehicles, and other social spaces are built with little recognition for persons with any form of disability. The buildings in the University of Ghana are generally not disability-friendly and it is the same for the built infrastructure across the nation.  Public transportation is also not special needs friendly.

Students are encouraged to provide as much information as they can related to their specific disabilities (or related needs) prior to arrival so CIEE staff can assess potential challenges and arrange for appropriate accommodations.

Gender and Gender Identity

Along a continuum of patriarchy and matriarchy, Ghanaian society is more inclined towards a patriarchal orientation. You are likely to experience deference towards male persons in variety of social situations, such as homes, schools, and family gatherings.  Ghanaian women tend to be more reserved and are likely to not initiate conversations with people they are meeting for the first time. This is largely due to upbringing and cultural socialization.  It is important to note that in some cases women wield more power and influence compared to their male counterparts especially among the Akan societies in Ghana who practice the matrilineal system of inheritance.

Heritage Seekers

Ghana can inspire a mix of emotions for the heritage seeker as you might encounter a range of receptiveness – some people welcoming, some unwelcoming.  One of the recommended ways attain support for your journey is to ensure that you are respectful of the host culture, have an open mind to learn and be challenged, and learn to speak some simple phrases of the local language, especially Twi language

Racial and Ethnic Identity

Issues of race and racial discrimination as pertains in the United States and other parts of the world are not necessarily foremost on the minds of the average Ghanaian people. The average Ghanaian is not necessarily a Pan-Africanist. The issues that receive front burner attention tend to be economics, poverty, unemployment as well as issues of ethnicity, religion, and politics.  

Persons from the Asian continent tend to be referred to as Chinese irrespective of country of origin and this may pose some challenges to the student. There is the general perception that China or the continent of Asia was where COVID-19 began and spread across the world.  So, there is the tendency for locals to avoid interaction or act in a disconcerting manner towards Asian people.

During orientation and throughout your program, CIEE staff are on hand to provide support and resources on issues of racial and ethnic identity.

Religion

In Ghana, 95% of the population ascribes to one form of religious belief or another. Christianity is the most common faith, with Islam and Traditional religion following in descending order. Religion is such an integral part of people’s lives that religious writing can be found on public transportation (trotro and taxis), kiosks and shops, as well as billboards advertising one religious event or another.

Practitioners of the three major religions co-exist peacefully and respectfully, as evidenced by political party leadership (the current president of Ghana is Christian, and the vice president is Muslim). There are inter-faith marriages as well.

Ghana is generally respectful of other religions such as Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism among others as there are temples around the country for worshippers. Practitioners of religions that are not mainstream sometimes are misunderstood by some Ghanaian people who may even ask that a person convert to one of the mainstream religions in order to be "saved."

Sexual Orientation

Ghanaian society is largely not welcoming for persons whose sexual orientation deviates from heterosexuality.  This is mainly due to the culture, religion, and traditional beliefs and practices of the larger Ghanaian society.  There are no criminal laws against homosexuality, even though unnatural carnal knowledge is criminal.  In recent years, some organizations have made attempts to criminalize homosexuality by petitioning the Parliament of Ghana. Visitors are to be mindful of the religious and cultural norms and not flaunt their sexual orientation as open displays are seen as an affront to the values of the larger society.

Socioeconomic Status

Ghana is described as a low middle-income economy. People new to Ghana, depending on country of origin, may find it more expensive in terms of cost of living. Ghana’s capital, Accra is ranked 63rd most expensive city out of 209 cities in the 2019 Mercer Cost of Living Survey. Aside from saving prior to departure, you should budget for your time abroad well in advance. Consider all possible expenses including things you may not be used to paying for such as: public transportation, weekend trips with new friends (outside of CIEE excursions), phone/data use, housing supplies, etc. Often, meals are not included in the cost of study abroad- consider cooking for yourself rather than eating out, making shared meals with peers, and selecting lower cost grocery stores/markets. There are a number of eateries/canteens that sell freshly cooked food at generally inexpensive prices at various residential facilities on the University of Ghana Legon campus.

Programs in Legon

Live from Legon

Legon’s well-educated citizens welcome other international students with open arms to their quiet suburban town, just northeast of the city center in the Accra Metropolis District. The sprawling University of Ghana campus is ranked as the 7th best university in Africa. Learn more about programs in Legon