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Opinions of Sunday, 27 April 2008

Columnist: Albion, Kojo

The Culture Of Our Ancestors- the outfit.

“…And a generation grew up that neither knows nor understands the culture of the ancestors.”

Do you remember the furor over the President’s attire for the Ghana@50 celebration on March 6th 2007? Why did many people react negatively to the way that he dressed? “A Ghanaian President on such a big occasion wore a suit?” That was the question and according to Asante-Bordoh, “that was Ghana@50 for you!”

This article is neither meant to be a research paper for we reserve that for another forum nor an indictment of anyone. This is just a conversation with that generation that grew up without knowing how and why our ancestors dressed the way that they did or what it means go indigenous (Afrocentric).

Is there African (Ghanaian) attire that stands for our indigenous culture and in most instances, conducive to our climate also? Remember the average temperature in the tropics is about 80°F a year. Are a coat, a shirt, underwear, a tie and pants fit for our weather and in most cases, in buildings where there are no air conditioners?

Asante-Bordoh said: “I blame most of our managers who wear coat and tie to work in the tropical heat everyday, they turn on air conditioners in their offices and then they complain that we have energy crisis. Then to make matters worse, most Parliamentarians wear suits to Parliament all week and then they say that, “to promote patronage of Ghanaian outfits and industries, they declare Fridays as “Casual Fridays.” Bordoh said: “One day a week, they declare what? That is Ghana@50 for you!”

Asante-Bordoh wants to know why we as Africans, wrap ourselves in clothes that are not indigenous or conducive to the climate and then we complain about the heat and the lack of electricity for air conditioners to work in some offices and some homes.

He also wants to know why in the year 2008, our Lawyers and Judges wear wigs and robes to Court and many Church Choirs wear robes in their Churches? The legacy of colonialism lives on, declares Asante-Bordoh.

Do we have indigenous outfits? What did our ancestors wear in those days? What about Dr Kwame Nkrumah and the others on March 6th 1957? What did they wear? When Dr Nkrumah spoke at the Un in New York City, what did he wear? What improvements to these outfits have we seen in our modern times? Are the coats and ties appropriate for many office workers today? What about the ladies who wear high heels to “Project Sites?” Are we being practical?

How can we dress daily in such a way that visitors to our Homeland will know that they are no longer in the West and that the people are free to be themselves (Afrocentric)? What about dressing to promote our Africanness and also to stay cool in the tropical heat? What about being practical?

Fifty-one years after independence, do you feel out of place when you wear your best African outfit to the Office, to Church or to a wedding? If so, then something is wrong and according to Asante-Bordoh, “that is Ghana@50 for you.” We are free to be Africans and wearing indigenous clothes (Afrocentric) is one way of expressing our freedom, our Africanness, staying cool and promoting local industries.

I rest my case. Your witness.



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