There are certain things about Ghanaian custom that you don't learn until you live here, or in some cases (mine and my friends'), until someone explains to you what your actions mean.
I realised this several weeks ago after being told that a certain acquaintance was my boyfriend. The person who told me, mentioned it as a fact, not a rumour and was surprised to hear it wasn't true. I was in complete shock, wondering how this 'fact' had come about, what Virgo would think of hearing such a 'fact', then realising, on top of all the untruths in the 'fact', the acquaintance was a married man with children!
Suddenly it stopped being an innocent mistake (I know Virgo's secure enough to handle such rumours) and instead I was the mistress of a husband and father. Nice. My crime? Strolling through Shoprite with the acquaintance a good eight months earlier.
Similarly, a friend who shared her meal with a guy she just met at a lunch with a group of friends, was understood by the whole group, including the man who ate half her food (scooped on to his own plate), as signalling that they were actually sleeping together! I can only imagine the guy wondering over his luck, not having to chat up this beautiful lady and yet she was ready to go all the way with him.
Sometimes it has lesser consequences, but is equally puzzling until you realise what has happened. For example, the time my mum and went to a lunch said hello as we entered the house, then both felt we were given the cold shoulder by the other guests (women, of course) until I realised and whispered in Swedish to my mum: "We didn't go round from left to right and greet everyone as we entered the room". A few smiles and introductions to the other guests individually, and suddenly we were part of the crowd.
Right now, I can only imagine who else I am a mistress to, after all, I too have shared meals with friends (the Poet, as recently as last Thursday), sat in my male friends' cars (yes, that too is a crime) and walked through shops with other male friends.
So for the sake of your reputations, please, share your experiences so we can all learn and walk through Accra as citizens of good standing! ;)