Basketmouth Offers Two Sides of African Culture in ‘Ghana Jollof’

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Basketmouth’s hit comedy series Ghana Jollof tells the story of two Nigerians migrating to Ghana to pursue greener pastures, but the show succeeds in doing more. Although it is Showmax’s first Nigerian original comedy series, Ghana Jollof joins Basketmouth’s list of thriving comedy-drama series following Flatmates and Papa Benji. However, the show sets itself apart from the others in many different ways. Its dedication to highlighting the different yet similar cultures between Nigerians and Ghanaians is just one of the reasons it is so special.

Set in Ghana and filmed in both Accra and Lagos, Ghana Jollof explores the different sides of West African culture through the travails of its main characters. Through Jasper and Romanus, played by Akah Nnani and Funnybone, we follow their journey across the different landscapes before and after their arrival in Ghana. The show starts with Jasper and Romanus, alongside their roommates Kweku (James Gardiner) and Nnamdi (Uzor Arukwe) at the University of Lagos in Nigeria. It follows them to life after school, unemployment, and a need to seek greener pastures. They find that the grass may indeed be greener in Ghana, so they make a move with the help of their now wealthy and successful friend, Kweku.

Interestingly, recent research shows some truth in the idea that life may be easier in Ghana than Nigeria. Even though Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and Ghana is only eighth on the list, their standard of living (Human Development Index) is higher. According to World Data, Ghana has the world’s 108th best standard of living, and Nigeria is 157th out of 161 countries on the list. In December 2021, Samuel Oyekanmi writing for Nairametrics, noted that Ghana’s economy is growing faster than Nigeria’s. He wrote, “Ghana’s economy recorded a growth of 6.6% in the third quarter of 2021 from the 3.9% expansion recorded in the preceding period. This is higher than the 4.03% growth recorded by Nigeria, the largest economy on the continent”.

However, besides showing that Ghana, though now thriving better than Nigeria, is a haven for Nigerians, Ghana Jollof also shows that both nations are friends. The narrative of friendship and brotherhood between Nigerians and Ghanaians pushed throughout Ghana Jollof is needed. The theme of love between friends of different origins and countries is timely. In a time where there’s constant online chatter and banter about the superiority of both countries, the show helps to put what is important into perspective. And at the core of being proud Nigerians and Ghanaians, what is most important is that we are all Africans. We have similar beliefs in God, values, and virtues. It shows that even though our differences and similarities are almost equal in numbers, the love we should have for each other trumps all that.

Ghana Jollof explores two sides of both West African cultures through the interactions between Nigerian characters and its Ghanaian cast. The cast blends seamlessly to show Jasper, Mambo, Boniface, and Romanus showcase the Nigerian hustling spirit. They have the zeal and ambition to succeed and chase after their dreams no matter where they find themselves. But, the show, set mainly in Ghana, also allows viewers to understand more of their culture. You get to enjoy their use of language, learn more about their food, and even how they treat elders. 

On the other hand, Joselyn Dumas, Jacinta Ocansey, Mawuli Gavor, and James Gardiner represent Ghana. Ghanaian culture is in full display from their extensive use of the local language to the fashion, food, and music. Yet, several things in Ghana resonate deeply with the typical ‘Nigerianess’. Ghanaians are hard workers, and they do not give up easily. They are as proud as Nigerians are but just as forgiving. If you believe that Nigerians are welcoming, you best believe that Ghanaians are too. They are also very religious, and their military leaders, just like Nigeria’s, remain very powerful even after they’ve resigned from the position. And perhaps most importantly, they like to live life to the fullest and turn up just as much.

You see the differences between the Nigerian and Ghanaian cultures in how the characters navigate their experiences, relationships, and interactions. The show focuses on culture enough to notice that meals with similar names across both countries are pretty different. For example, though similar looking, Ghana’s Fufu and Jollof Rice taste different. However, watching the main characters struggle to adjust to the diverse way of life in Ghana is probably the easiest way to point out these differences in lifestyle.

The show may also be the best guide in deciding whether or not you want to make that move to Ghana or, better still, stay in Nigeria. Most of all, in Ghana Jollof, both Nigerians and Ghanaians watching will find comfort and relatable themes across both incredibly expansive African cultures.


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