Local Names and English names for commonly used Ghanaian household items

by Jake Wyatt

Last updated on 19th October, 2022

English is our first language in Ghana, hence we use it more frequently than any other to communicate.

Unlike Twi, Ewe (Eʋe), Fante, Ga, Hausa, etc, which is only spoken by a portion of Ghanaians, the entire nation speaks English.

We were deceived about a lot of things in primary school as kids. In today’s articles, we will learn about English names of common things we use every day in Ghana that you don’t know about.

1. Asanka/Apotoyewa: The English name for asanka is “Earthenware Bowl”.

Asanka can be found in almost every Ghanaian home and also used in chop bars to serve local dishes like fufu, banku, konkonte and riceballs with soup.

Asanka in English is Earthenware Bowl

2. Bentoa: This is called “Enema Bulb Syringe” in English.

Enema Bulb syringes were once a need for every Ghanaian woman. It was used by women most especially for system/colon cleansing.

Bentoa in Twi

3. Abrofo nkatie (Abrɔfo nkateɛ): Indian Almond or Tropical Almond

I’m sure this brings back a whole lot of childhood memories. During childhood plucking abrofo nkatie was a skill we all learnt and mastered. Haha. It is said to have a lot of health benefits but we won’t talk about that today.

Indian Almond (Abrofo nkatie)

4. Kontonmire: Most of us enjoy Kontonmire stew and probably one of our favorites. Well… the English name for your favorite Kontonmire is “Taro Leaves”

Taro leaves (Kontonmire) – Image Credit: MyJoyOnline

5. Aluguntugui: If you’ve been calling this fruit “sweet apple”, you’ve been saying it wrong all your life. The English name for aluguntugui is “Soursop

Soursop (Aluguntugui)

6. Alasa: Because it is high in copper and vitamin C, it is an extremely popular fruit in Ghana. The English name for alasa is “African Star Fruit


7. Akoko mesa (Akokɔ mɛsa): Don’t mistake akoko mesa for mint leaves even though they look very much alike and from the same family. One can be used in place of the other but akoko mesa is completely different from mint leaves. Akoko mesa is mostly used in Ghanaian homes to steam poultry so I think that’s where it got its name from (Akoko in Twi means Cock/hen). The English name is “Basil”.

Akoko mesa

8. Hwentia: Shito, soups, porridge, and drinks are all made with this pepper sauce. The English name is “Negro Pepper

Negro pepper

9. Yooyi: The English name for yooyi is not blackberriessorry. It is “Velvet Tamarind

 10. Abedru / Kwahu Nsusua: Abedru is used in many Ghanaian dishes especially for Kontonmire stew and Palmnut soup. The English name for this popular vegetable is “Turkey Berries

 11. Dadesen (Dadesɛn): This is what we mostly use for cooking or boiling on open fire or coal pot. Some homes have it purposely or preparing banku. You may have been lied to about its English name being iron pot. The correct name for our popular pot is “Cauldron”

12. Banku ta: Wooden Spatula. This is the term for the “stick” used to stir banku to give it its smooth texture. If you have been calling it “banku stick”, now you know the correct name. Go and sin no more

Wooden Spatula – Image Credit: creativecommons.org

13. Egyire (Ɛgyerɛ): This is the gap between your teeth. I’ve been calling it gap teeth until recent when I got to know the correct name for it. The correct name for this is “Diastema

Diastema – Image Credit: creativecommons.org

14. Sobolo: Sobolo is one is one of the most popular herbal tea you’ll find on the streets of Ghana. Its English name “Hibiscus Tea”. Hibiscus tea can be beneficial for weight loss and lower cholesterol.

15. Dawadawa: This is used as seasoning in Ghanaian dishes mostly in the northern part. The English name is “African Locust Bean

16. Prekese (Prɛkɛsɛ): This plant is used in soups in Ghana. It is also used in everyday tea for concoctions as well because of its medicinal uses. The English name for prekese is “Aidan Fruit

Aidan fruit (Prekese)

I sincerely hope this post has helped you learn something new. Please comment if I’ve missed anything. Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comment section.

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