Spitting all over Ghana

sputumIt is amazing how Ghanaians spit around in this country.

I am very angry at this moment especially because someone just “accidentally” spat at me. That brings to two (2) the number of sputum attacks I have had to endure this week alone. Last week, I suffered one such situation.

A driver’s mate spat from a moving “trotro”; and as fate may have it,
I just happened to be walking along the road at Kejetia, Kumasi and hence became the target of that spittle attack. On another occasion,

I was just bypassing two young men who were chatting beside the road when one of them turned and spat without looking.

I know that I am not the only person who has been spat at because almost all my colleagues I discussed the situation with seem to remember a similar experience in the past.

A friend recounted how saliva from a moving vehicle they were following on a highway landed on their windscreen and how disgusting the whole situation was.

That keeps me wondering why Ghanaians spit so much.
Early in the morning, especially in a compound house, one is likely to see tenants spitting out a mouth full of saliva as if they ate bad food at night.

Some even have developed “styles” of spitting. Some, with a chewing stick protruding out of their mouths would spew the saliva in a fountain-like way. Another variation of that is when people spew out saliva through their front teeth.

So once again I ask; why do Ghanaians spit so much?
Do we have a problem with oral hygiene? Do we find spitting fashionable? Or do we eat bad food?

Whatever the cause is, I hope someone with much knowledge could be of help, not only in stating the problem but in helping solve this bad habit which is almost becoming a fashion among some.

Though I do not lay claim to any specialized knowledge on any effect spitting indiscriminately may have on people, my little basic science gives me the courage to state that spitting openly and haphazardly has very negative health consequences and should hence not be encouraged nor taken lightly.

Saliva is a good medium through which many disease –causing organisms spread. Airborne diseases may be introduced into the air through the sputum of an infected person. Tuberculosis for instance is easily spread through spittle. Viruses such as meningitis are also easily transferable through spit. Other germs, such as the common cold and influenza, are significantly prevalent diseases spread by saliva.

Considering the number of infectious diseases in the world, one can appreciate the consequences we are likely to face if this open spitting contest is allowed to continue.

Many countries, including China and some parts of the United States, being conscious of these consequences have promulgated laws against public expectoration. Though they might have their own challenges upholding and enforcing the law to the latter, I believe it is serving them well.

It might be considered too sudden and extreme by some Ghanaians for me to ask that spitting openly or in public be made an illegality, considering the difficulty in even promulgating the anti tobacco bill and other laws against more obvious dangers. But I certainly believe that the time is long over due to ask Ghanaians to make little behavioural adjustments for the greater good of all.

I believe also that it is time for Ghanaians to have our own renaissance; a revival of learning and culture, when we can bring up some of our attitudes, believes and culture in totality and examine them under a new light. The time has come for a kind of knowledge not only borne on the back of formal education but of questioning the status quo and our very lives as a people and as individuals.

For, it is by so doing that we get to understand our own culture and the emphasis it places on respect for one another. This will enlighten us to respect each other by considering the need for an appropriate location to spit; and not just take liberties to either spit at people or spread diseases through the air with our sputum.

Perhaps it has not yet been mentioned in plain language; It is highly disgusting, ahh.


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