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Making a difference in Ghana

  • Ghana interview
Interview
Published last month

Italian journalist Antonella decided to move to Ghana and set up her own business. She also blogs about her day to day life as well as broader issues affecting the country and the broader Sub-Saharan region. She tells Expat.com about how she finds life in Ghana so far.

antonellas

antonellas

Vivo in Ghana - Keta. Per sapere di più ecco i miei siti: http://ghanaway.net/ e http://wildcampghana.com/ I live in Ghana - Keta. To know more about, those above are my website

Please introduce yourself. Where are you from, and what were you doing before you moved? Why did you move, what are you doing in Ghana and how long have you been there?

My name is Antonella Sinopoli and I come from Italy where I was working as a journalist. At the moment I’m editor in chief of an online newspaper. We mainly write about the issues on the African continent, such as human rights, social justice and immigration. I came to Ghana the first time to shoot a documentary for a charity about a micro-finance project for women living in villages in the Ashanti Region. In 2010, I made up my mind to go back to Ghana and settle down there. I still do projects with the charity, and I set up the Italian branch of the organization. Most importantly for my personal experience I set up a tourist site on the coast of the Volta Region, in Keta. It lays in a fishermen village, called Aflasco, between the lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. My aim was to live a simple life side by side with the local people.

What is the process to move to Ghana?

Moving to Ghana was not very difficult, even though at the beginning I found problems accessing electricity and water. For the first two years I had to ask for a visa every time I travelled to Ghana or I had to renew my permission to stay, then I got a resident permit, so things have been changing. I didn’t have much problem leaving Italy with what I had, because I think new experiences are much more important than material things.

What is your favourite thing and least favourite thing about Ghana?

My favourite thing about Ghana is the relaxing and friendly atmosphere, my least favourite thing is the corruption at any level. Once you know the people and the country you can manage to deal with it and overcome it.

What has surprised you the most about Ghana?

©Antonella Sinopoli/Ghanaway.net

The vitality of the country and the people. You can feel a sparkling atmosphere wherever you go.

What are the features of today’s expat job market in Ghana?

Ghana still offers many chances for business. Tourism, bio agriculture, furniture, selling of cars and motorbikes; services are the main sectors in which to invest.

How easy or difficult it is to find accommodation in Ghana, and what type of accommodation is available for expats?

In Ghana sometimes you can experience that there is no middle ground in accommodation. You can either find very expensive accommodation in Ghana even more expensive than in Europe or bad places at low price. Anyway, if you have time to search and/or good friends to advise you, you can find a good deal. One of the best ways is either to talk with friends or to go through expat.com.

What are the year’s biggest holidays in Ghana? What is some essential etiquette in Ghana?

I’d say the Independence day on the 6th of March is the main and most important holiday in Ghana. Over the years, Ghanaians have started to celebrate Christmas, but more with a materialistic spirit, like nowadays in Western countries. Anyway, funerals are by far the most important traditional celebrations. They usually last three days, and during these days people meet, drink, eat and dance. Taking part in the funerals of relatives, friends, neighbors is quite compulsory and part of the country's etiquette. Another etiquette is to give and eat food with the right hand.

How do you find the lifestyle in Ghana? What is your everyday life like?

Life in Ghana is quite relaxing if you live in the outskirts, but in Accra, for example can be very chaotic and traffic is sometimes crazy. By living in a local village on the coast I chose a quiet life. When we have guests I take care of them, when nobody is there I write, read, walk on the beach and think to organize the best for the future. 

How is the transportation system in Ghana?

It is better if you have a car. Tro tros are the main means of public transportation. They are small vans, often very old, but sometimes you can have the chance to travel on better ones during longer journeys. They are cheap but the cheapest one is the metro mass, used mainly by the locals.

Have you been able to adapt to Ghana and the society there?

©Stefano Stranges

I’m lucky, because I’m a very adaptable person, so it's not a problem to live in a different environment and society, even though my body was not so happy at the beginning. After some time everything became easier.

What do you do in your free time?Are there activities for people who enjoy nightlife?

As I said, I live in a very peaceful place and there is no social life apart from organizing games, bonfires at the beach, watching movies or concerts on the computer, listening to good music, drinking and chatting with friends or guests. Those who like a frantic life have to live in Accra or Kumasi, where there are more chances to live according to the European style.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Ghana?

You would expect that the country is cheaper, actually you can spend a lot for food and accommodation. Even the electricity bill has increased a lot over the years and the local currency, Ghana Cedi, is weak. But if you live in the countryside and shop in the markets things are much more affordable. The same, if you live in the big city and your salary is in euros or dollars. In that case you have a good and comfortable life.

What is something that you would like to do in Ghana but haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?

I would like to involve the people of the village where I live in projects to develop and improve their lives, particularly for women and children.

Share your most memorable experience in Ghana.

©Antonella Sinopoli/Ghanaway.net

My most memorable experience in Ghana is when I met the man who soon would become my husband. That meeting changed the course of my life.

If you could do the move to Ghana over, what would you do differently?

I would not change anything. What there is to change and/or improve I do day by day. I’m still happy of my choice and I’m still learning something new. Even when things are not so smooth I’m grateful of the chance I had. Then, when I’m tired I travel to other neighbouring countries and relax my mind.

What do you think of the local cuisine? What are your favourite dishes?

Being Italian I miss all the diversity of dishes and flavors we have in Italy, but I don’t have any problem with Ghanaian food. I like fufu, plantain, and gari. I think in Ghana, unlike the French speaking countries, there is no abundance of vegetables. Moreover I don’t like too much their bread. I’m lucky to be close to the Togolese border, so that we can buy baguettes.

What motivated you to create your blog 'Ghanaway'?

I created my blog Ghanaway with the aim to share my experience in Ghana, not as an expat, but as a person who chose to live in a local village taking the good and the bad of this choice. Then, as I’m journalist, it comes natural for me to write about African issues politics, arts, culture, sociological issues and more. So I’d say Ghanaway is a mix; it reflects my life in Ghana and my personal experience and, at the same time, it gives news and information about Ghana and Sub-Saharan Africa in general.

Give us some useful tips that soon-to-be expatriates in Ghana will benefit from.

To people who are about to move to Ghana I’d suggest that you leave your bias, if you have some, and what you know about Ghana at home, and come with a clear mind. Even though there should be experiences in common between one another, everybody has to experience Ghana in their own way. Then, if you work with Ghanaians, don’t get too annoyed if people are less frantic than you.

What is one thing that you will take with you from Ghana?

What I took from Ghana, apart from a husband, is something immaterial, it is another way of living, appreciating and enjoying life. So, it is what I take with me wherever I go.

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