Being invited

I might have uncovered one of the possible roots of the ‘You are Invited” phenomenon here in Ghana. This is a standard phrase one hears whenever one comes across a Ghanaian who is either eating or about to start a meal. We all also know that the standard operating procedure on being invited is to say ‘Thank You’ and move on. I couldn’t quite figure out if this was just people being polite or if there was more to it…

Then today, I heard this story of how adults in families in rural areas would always leave some food behind in their plate during their meals. In practice, the leftover food would come in handy for breakfast the next morning. But traditionally, the reason they would leave some food behind was so that they could have something to offer to any unexpected visitor. Upon my prodding them further, they mentioned that this visitor could be anyone – a friend or relative, someone stranded on the road or even the spirit of an ancestor that came to visit their previous residence. They always had to be prepared.

The idea being that if anyone turned up around the time you were eating or just after, you should be able to offer them food; and, if you didn’t have enough to eat, you would rather offer the food to your guest than eat it yourself. Therefore, You are Invited!

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