Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cultural Orientation at UDS

Yesterday we visited the University of Development Studies (UDS) to meet Dr. Nafiu Hamidu, the Dean of Allied Health Science, Dr. Thomas Azongo, the Head of Department of Nursing, and Dr. Kofi Glover who provided a lecture on Culture. Dr. Vida Yakong, the Head of Department of Midwifery, accompanied us to the University.

We were warmly welcomed by each person we met during our time at UDS and had the opportunity to experience a unique lecture that enlightened each of us in many ways. During the opening of Dr. Kofi’s lecture he explained to us that each Ghanaian name has a meaning, and that people “come by their names, rather than being given them”. For example, Kofi is a name given to a man who is born on a Friday. We thought that this was unique and allowed us to gain an understanding of the significance of names within Ghanaian Culture.

Dr. Kofi Glover
“You can see, but not perceive, you can hear, but not understand.” This quote by Dr. Kofi explains how we can go through life paying attention to the things we encounter, while at the same time not challenging our thoughts and asking why something is the way it is. Often, the reasoning may be greater than our knowledge. This situation encouraged us to be curious, mindful, and open to learn new things. There are times where what we perceive to be true, is not a universal truth, and we must be open to other perspectives to gain an understanding of all views. Dr. Kofi explained how the Ghanaian faith is so strong, that many believe they have “already found the truth”, and therefore some people may not be as willing to search for answers outside of their religious beliefs. Learning about this helped us to understand the reasons behind some of the major health disparities in Ghana. As Canadian nurses, we cannot simply impose our beliefs on our Ghanaian colleagues and expect them to be useful. Instead, we must collaborate, ask questions about their needs, and work together to find solutions.

Lecture at UDS
During the lecture, Dr. Kofi said the word “polygyny”, and instantly many assumed that he meant to say polygamy and had mispronounced and misspelled the word. He began to explain the meaning of polygyny and how it is quite different from polygamy. The definition of polygamy is that it is acceptable for both genders to have more than one spouse at the same time. While polygyny means that a man can have multiple wives, but the woman can not do the same. In Ghana, some groups practice polgygny, while polygamy is not as culturally accepted. Our initial reaction is an example of how we often assume that we have all of the answers, or even that our knowledge is superior. We were fortunate to have had this lecture to open our minds and to inspire us to value and appreciate the knowledge that others can offer us.

- Posted by Stephanie Bandura, Amanda McCrate &
  Kenya Mokoena

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