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How the West is winning Ghana through fashion and fast food

When I lived in America, Africa was everywhere I went. Many of my friends were second generation African, so it was not unusual to see them wearing bright colour fabrics in modern styles. The homes I visited often had some sort of African statue or art, reminding the owner that, although they may be in America now, their roots were from the Motherland. And someone was always taking a trip to Africa or talking about how wonderful it would be to visit the continent one day.

Cordie Aziz

However, now since I am in Africa, Ghana in particular, I often feel like I am in America. Ghana is known as the “Gateway to Africa”. However, it is apparent that this gate has two way traffic. Each day, I am amazed about how American the life in Accra is. Now, I must admit, the further you go out of Accra the better it gets. But in the capital city, it is very easy for one to forget that they are in Ghana – minus the open gutters and super aggressive street vendors.

Women in Ghana have abandoned their traditional style clothing for modern day suits and dresses, some made of fabrics that aren’t even conducive for the weather. These same women have also abandoned their traditional head wraps, for a head full of weave. Yaki is flying off the shelves left, right and centre here and is also debuting in multiple colours. A few times, I have been tempted to take pictures to send to, but then I feel bad. After all, these women have looked in some Western hair magazine and are convinced this is what Western women are doing. In fact, many of them think I am crazy for wearing an Afro. “Sista,” they often say, “are you going to do something to your hair?”  Of course, I just smile and shake my head no.

The men have also been equally hypnotised by the West. The younger generation has picked up on skinny jeans in bright, vibrant colours with the shoes to match. And they have also learned the art of the sag, also known as showing your behind to the rest of the world. To this day, it still escapes me how grown men are comfortable with their bottoms being worn out for the world to see. They even seem to identify with the words of artists like Rick Ross and Lil Wayne, though many of them have never even been close to setting foot on American soil.

Then recently, the first fast food chain in Accra popped up, KFC. Since its opening, the characters mentioned above have made it their Mecca. They excitedly fill their bodies with excessive amounts of grease in hopes of feeling more Western. The worst part of it all, this KFC doesn’t even have buttermilk biscuits, so people don’t even know what they are really missing. I am sure that is my own personal lament though, considering our UK counterparts have a different definition of biscuits.

In the end, I must say sometimes I am disheartened by the local people’s lack of ability to identify, embrace and love their own culture. I often feel that many of them are missing the sense of self pride that drives true success. They spend so much time trying to escape their lives and get to the West that they often forget the opportunity that surrounds them in their own country. But then again, maybe this is all part of the plan of how the West is winning Ghana.

Cordie Aziz is a former congressional staffer who moved to Ghana after losing her job in January 2011. Follow her daily adventures at

  • jeanny

    oh yes thats what they did….with our southern africa and turn us upside down….if the the world is into globalization how many europeans have we manage to influence with our beautiful lifestyle and morals…..why are the only one who always copy….the westerners….because we told that everything about them is better….that why im starting my own school were i will teach africans who they really are….africanism…..globalization or what ever you want to call it…is fine…but for me its better to copy the good things from someone culture while you keep the best from your own….but not just to abandon your own culture and totally adopt other people culture….and think that the other people own is better than your own….

  • Nathan Midgley

    “I am disheartened by the local people’s lack of ability to identify, embrace and love their own culture.”

    That seems unfairly broad – the piece only really addresses what well-off teens and young adults get up to in Osu, East Legon etc. Hardly a decent cross-section of Accra life.

  • J.E.

    I have to say i don’t understand the point of this article… Young africans being under influence of the west is nothing new! I’ve lived in West Africa since i was born and i’ve ALWAYS seen boys sagging jeans, wearing XXL denim jeans and the fake hair thing has been around since our mothers (even if it wasn’t called Yaki, Peruvian human hair or else back then). Globally, in this article, you’re telling us that the western world is aggressively getting into Africa/Ghana through fashion and food..were you living under a rock or..? Ghana is not the only country to go through this. The WHOLE WORLD is under a globalized (mostly western) influence, may it be India (go to Mumbai or Bombay and see for yourself), Kinshasa or Bangkok.

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