The first time I said “sorry for left” I stood still for a minute because I didn’t know whether to slap myself or laugh. I was paying for something at a supermarket and I handed the salesgirl the money with my left hand. I said it because I had heard someone say it as a way of apologizing for handing over money or anything for that matter, with the left hand. I will completely ignore its grammatical shortcomings too.
“Sorry for left… wai”
Now if you are Ghanaian, you probably know it is frowned upon to gesture, give or receive anything with the left hand. (My ga teacher in primary school used to say that a lot.)Yes, you’re disrespectful if you do that. Like most Ghanaian children, I was taught at school to use my right hand because it was the right thing to do.
See, now here is the thing. I am left-handed so I suffered a bit for it growing up. Yes, I’d get lashed as an iddy-biddy toddler in KINDERGARTEN, for writing with my left-hand. It started to affect my learning processes a bit. I’d mirror my letters; ‘3’ as ‘E’, ‘b’ as ‘d’ and then I’d get in trouble for that too. Ghana schooling hard oo. Until my mum came to the school to check those teachers; who also happened to be stealing my hair ribbons too.
Anyways, I am usually passive about little things like culture codes like shaking with the left head, wearing at hat out after 6 pm( oh yes it exists too) wearing anklets and other ridiculous things.
The essence of many Ghanaian cultural connotations are to promote respect, young vrs. old, order as well, but mostly, respect. There are trends that I understand and respect. Some, however, i strongly believe, need to go to Bin.
Like not using the left hand!
I’ve got baleful stares a few times in cars or shopping when i have paid with my left hand. Normally i shrug and keep it moving.
But what really pissed me off this one time, actually happened at church. Yep. Wouldn’t you believe it?
Now normally, and really, on reflex, I pick up the cup, with my left hand to keep the wine cup steady. It is such a solemn moment that I am always VERY careful about not spilling wine from the Lord’s cup.
While I am battling this agitation, an intern Methodist priest who has come to worship with us for a time at my church decides to take it upon himself to correct whatever is CLEARLY, genetically wrong with me. During one communion service, this man leans in and hisses at me to use my right hand to pick the cup when he sees me reaching with my left hand. Damnation! May i be damned to hell!. I am so confused and with a shaken hand, Ipick up the cup, drink and walk away to my seat, as fast as I can. I can not even pray and think after my communion because I feel invaded and violated at such a solemn time. I mean what did I ever to do to him? I didnt hear the Lord complaining.
But no. This man is not done yet.
A second time, this priest sees me in line, walks straight towards me and hisses again that when I get to the stand, I should not use my left hand to pick my communion cup! I was rebelling and seething inside, for the intrusion. The question now was either to be disrespectful or to conform.
I conformed. Don’t worry I did myself the honors and kicked myself. It won’t happen again.
Of course, after church he had to come talk to me. Just to make sure his hissing hit home.
“Excuse me, I hope I didn’t offend you. But you see, in our Ghanaian culture, it is not right to use your left hand”.
And I said, “Yes, you did offend me. You not only intruded on my quiet time at communion, you picked a wrong time to do it. I am left-handed, I am sorry that is a problem for you. It is my steady hand and I don’t think you’d appreciate it if I spilled my cup in front everyone would you? And please with all respect don’t pick on culture when it suits religion and drop it when it doesn’t. And please tell me where in the Bible God condemns using the left-hand for anything? Then you’re telling me He certainly didn’t know what He was doing when he created both hands, am I right ?
After a feeble apology from him, I walked away. Let’s just say my whole argument is in my reply. I really cannot blame him because after all we are products of our belief system. That’s fine. But we can’t all be in the same boat all the time. Not this time.
Was I wrong?
Nah.. I do not think so.