How to Reject Marriage Proposals from Ghanaian Men

September 18, 2015
ghana, ghana men, gp
How to Reject Marriage Proposals from Ghanaian Men

“Hello! Hello! Where are you going? You are so beautiful! Do you have a boyfriend?”

I get these comments on a regular basis while walking the streets of Koforidua, my home for the next 10 months. Ghanaians are world-renowned for their friendliness and hospitality which is wonderful but with that comes a very direct way of telling women how much they love them.

Before I came to Ghana, I read that Ghanaian men use the term “I love you” as a way of showing their seriousness about a girl. But for me, a westerner and an American, this sign of affection is a little too overbearing. Both Ghanaian men and women insist of me marrying a Ghanaian and staying in the country. They often offer to introduce me to their friend/brother/cousin.

After I told my male coworkers that I was single, they spent the next two weeks telling me their plans to find me a Ghanaian husband. While I appreciate their enthusiasm and compliments, constantly being approached about my love life gets old. Though I don’t usually condone lying, here are some tips and tricks I use to stretch the truth about my martial status when talking to Ghanaian men:

Make up a boyfriend/fiancé/husband

In the short time I’ve been in Ghana, I’ve already made up about three different boyfriends/husbands. This is probably the easiest trick to remember and most guys will act bummed but usually let you go on your way without much hassle. When they ask where my significant other is, I usually respond with a vague answer like, “Oh, he’s at home” or “He’s at work.”

Wear a fake wedding ring

My male coworkers told me this is the most evil thing to do to scare away Ghanaian men. I suspect they told me this because they really, really want me to marry a Ghanaian man and anything I do to deter that messes with their plan to get me to stay. I feel this is one of the more discrete options. The flash of a simple wedding band partnered with a story of your better half seems to do the trick.

Tell them you don’t know how to make banku/fufu

Banku and fufu are traditional starchy Ghanaian dishes that take considerable time and effort to make. These dough balls also make up a large portion of the Ghanaian diet and some men can eat an impressive amount. While I haven’t tried this approach, I’ve read that saying you don’t know how to make banku or fufu will deter them since first wife material includes being able to cook.

Make up an age

Ghanaians have a very difficult time determining the age of a foreigner, especially a westerner. And to be fair, my teammates and I have a hard time determining Ghanaians’ ages as well. This tactic only works if you know the relative age of somebody and if he is a good bit younger than the age you can pull off. As part of our training, we taught a couple of classes at a training college and while there was a wide age range of students, most were in their early 20s. While I’m only 26, here I can easily pull off 34 and seem out of the reach of most college students. If you can achieve a wide enough age gap, you’ll seem out of their reach and therefore not dateable.

Become friends with a local

Becoming friends with locals is a great for many reasons besides having them help you ward off potential suitors. Friends are easy to make in Ghana but it’s important to find friends who aren’t trying to use you for a green card and instead value your experiences and companionship. Although your Ghanaian guy friends might try to marry you off to their friends, they’ll at least always have your back and step in to defend you if someone is harassing you.

If all else fails…

There are nice guys and not so nice guys everywhere and just as you wouldn’t put up with constant harassment back home, you shouldn’t be subjected to it in Ghana. I would recommend trying a more diplomatic and friendly approach as mentioned above but if all else fails, you can tell them “Jai!” or “Mempe saa” meaning “stop” or “I don’t like that” in Twi. Ghanaians love when foreigners learn their language but in this situation, it also shows you mean business. For every one person who is bothering you, there will be 50 Ghanaians nearby that will rush to help you out.

Photo credit: Francisco Anzola

About Gena Perry

Gena is currently living in Koforidua, Ghana for a year working in youth and agriculture development. When she's not in Ghana she loves hiking with her dog, live music, college football and learning about agriculture. Her favorite travel spots include Alaska, Oregon, Zanzibar, Switzerland and the Isle of Iona.

3 thoughts on “How to Reject Marriage Proposals from Ghanaian Men

  1. Judy
    March 11, 2017
    Reply

    You were a volunteer at the orphanage? Did you get harnessed there? I went to Ghana in Jan. This year, even the security officers will make passes at you. But my boyfriend that lives there. Wouldn’t let that happen.

  2. Abubit
    September 21, 2016
    Reply

    I’ve only had one experience with a Ghanaian and it’s enough for me to not venture there anymore. It was the case of saying hello one day then the next he was talking about wanting children with me and making me his wife. Despite making it clear to him that I wasn’t interested and I’d be happy to just be friends, he was relentless, clingy and overbearing: texting me practically every hour of the day with non-conversation and lamenting if I didn’t respond immediately, claiming to his friends, family and the whole of Ghana that we were going out and wanting me to speak or visit everyone he knew, trying to invite himself round to my place to meet my family, going on about my physique and it even got to the point where he’d actually grab and touch me on the streets. He would have plenty of childish tantrums when I wasn’t giving him sole attention at public spaces or events. On top of that, he claimed all these things about his background that I found out were not true after much researching. Eventually, I had to block him from contact after the three weeks of knowing him and it’s been blissful as it was before I met him.

  3. Kari
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    I was supposed to stay in Ghana for six months, but I ended up leaving after 1 month due to sexual harassment. I was volunteering in Medina near Accra and I had many men treat me horribly. I tried to be polite and joke and get them to back off nicely, but it never worked. They’d grab me, try to pull me into shops, bars, wherever, demand personal information, physically block me to keep me from escaping. They’d demand my name, my number, where I’m staying. They kept pushing and demanding and if I’d say no, they’d demand, “Why not?! Why not?!” every time. Eventually, I’d have to get firm and tell them to stop. Then they’d get cruel, screaming in my face, calling me a bitch and a racist, threatening to tell everyone that I 1. hated black people so locals would turn against me or 2. tell people I’m a whore so I’d get further harassed. This happened more than once. I got to the point I’d avoid leaving the orphanage I stayed in so I wouldn’t have to be confronted with the men. I went to Ghana actually being open to the idea of finding a husband there and left Ghana so disgusted by the men that I had to go into therapy to deal with the trauma of my stay there. And it is NOT true that other Ghanaians would step in to help when I was being harassed. They’d either stand by and watch silently or actually would join in the harassment, encouraging the man grabbing at me or insulting me along with him. I think women should be aware of how bad it can be before going to Ghana. If I had any idea, I never would have gone!

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