Culturally Conservative.

Those are two words that can best describe the atmosphere in Ghana. Every Sunday, you can expect most households to be up early, dressed and headed to church. On weekdays, you can hear loud music from special events and services in church. Oh, and don’t forget the all-night services as well.

On radio stations, workplaces, online profile bios, people aren’t shy to show their affiliation to their God.

“In the 90s, a woman wearing a skirt which was above the knee was seen as problematic. In today’s fashion, conservatives from that era would probably have a heart attack seeing what women wear these days.”

The conservative attitudes tied to religion manifests itself in how people are taught to speak, dress and behave in Ghanaian society. But all that conservatism hasn’t stopped most of the younger generation from being free spirits and expressing themselves in every way possible.

Efia Odo is an interesting case in this context. A young Ghanaian woman raised in Brooklyn, New York who is currently living in Ghana. Her rise to fame gained momentum when she was featured in a couple of movies and later got a gig as a host on Kwese TV and later a host at Okay FM.

At the moment, she gets more attention and popularity from what people see on social media. The word “Slay Queen” gets tossed around and Efia Odo definitely gets hit with that tag. Of course, “Slay Queen” is mostly used in a negative connotation in her context.

Ashawo”, “Hoe”, “Prostitute” are just a couple of words that also get thrown at her due to the outfits she wears at award shows and in public and also the men she’s always hanging out with.

Free Spirted, Famous And A Target

Efia Odo’s style can be described as “free-spirited”, some would say. This “Slay Queen” has numerous pictures on her Instagram page which some may describe as “salacious“, “open“, and “controversial“.

But that’s coming from the Ghanaian perspective. In other societies, her pictures could be described as mild at best.

Whether it was saying she was “born again” and still posting scantily-clad pictures of herself, to posting pictures and videos of herself with Shatta Wale, Efia is definitely not going to leave headlines soon with conservatives in the background shaking their heads.

But if we’re being honest, Ghana’s conservatism atmosphere seems to be particularly aimed at women. If you’re 25 years old and not married, the questions about marriage will definitely come at you from family members and society. The outfits you wear will definitely get scrutinized.

Showing too much skin? You better cover-up.

Too much cleavage? Cover it up.

In the 90s, a woman wearing a skirt which was above the knee was seen as problematic. In today’s fashion, conservatives from that era would probably have a heart attack seeing what women wear these days.

Maybe it was her New York life that encouraged her free spirit but in Ghanaian society, Efia Odo has made herself a moving target.

Whether it was saying she was “born again” and still posting scantily-clad pictures of herself to posting pictures and videos of herself with Shatta Wale, Efia is definitely not going to leave headlines soon with conservatives in the background shaking their heads.

But it’s the social media age and people nowadays, especially public personalities, tend to live their lives online.

So if Efia Odo decides to show her life online, including who she fraternizes with and wears what she wants to wear, who are we to judge? We’re just along for the ride.

Sticks And Stones Can Break My Bones But Words Can’t Hurt Me

The internet is more opinionated more than ever because of social media. It takes just a couple of seconds to easily tag someone online and write them a message, positive or negative.

From rumors of sleeping with different men to who her current boyfriend is, Efia Odo’s life is going to keep catching the attention of bloggers and media. She’s going to get praise as well as criticism from both sides of the spectrum.

Whether it’s Sister Deborah, Sandra Ankobiah, Akuapem Poloo or Ahoufe Patri, women who don’t follow conventional norms in Ghana get the ire of conservatives. Whether it’s voicing strong opinions on politics, religion or pertinent issues in society, they will always get judged for what they wear more often than not instead of what they say (Unless it’s criticizing religion or politics).

Ghana is obsessed with conservatism. It’s always going to fall back on religion and some outdated traditions. And yes, conservatives are going to be hypocritical and sexist to women in this society.

Female free spirits aren’t allowed here. They’re always going to be judged differently. But I doubt that’s going to stop this free-spirited woman in Ghana from doing what they want to do.


Story originally published on Labari Media