Ghanaians were pleasingly surprised Tuesday to see Speaker of Parliament Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin dressed in native garb instead of the customary cloak in the first parliamentary sitting of 2022.
There was keen interest in the session because it had been reported that the contentious government-proposed levy on electronic transactions, which led to a December brawl between members of parliament, would be on the agenda.
But it was not discussed.
Instead there was a talking point generated by Bagbin’s choice of attire. He wore a traditional outfit with kente cloth and a crown worn by chiefs during ceremonies.
Prior to the recent holidays, Bagbin urged MPs to promote locally made traditional outfits instead of wearing formal attire like suits.
And he led by example.
“This the Parliament of Ghana, a unique made in Ghana product and we must showcase and market it to the world as a brand. We must create a unique set of values and norms that will give a unique character to our Parliament to set it apart from the colonial legacies of the British system,” Bagbin wrote in a Facebook post. “I am convinced that Ghanaians define representation of the people to include representation of the full identity of the Ghanaian – i. e. Culture, Tradition and more importantly their dress code! Much love!”
Ghanaians react on social media
Builsa South Member of Parliament Clement Apaak agreed with the speaker. He said Bagbin showed the way in promoting the Ghana brand and he urged the Chief Justice to emulate the speaker in ensuring that lawyers and judges are also permitted to dress in local fabrics in court.
“Folks, the Speaker has shown the way, and has encouraged us to wear more Ghanaian clothes to Parliament: Wear Ghana, Project Ghana. Let the Chief Justice follow. Why should our Lawyers and Judges continue dressing like British several years after independence?,” he wrote on Twitter.
A leading member of the ruling government, Gabby Otchere-Darko, also supported the move.
“I kind of like it! Original! Culturally, representatively cool! So long as he doesn’t get majestically carried away with kingly thoughts and behavior,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Mr Speaker is on a mission to rebrand Parliament as an independent Institution of govt. We must support him. MPs must wear local attires to work to help boost the local/traditional textile industry and create employment. Nigeria’s Senate is a typical example, not every time wearing Suit & Tie. Well done, Alban Bagbin!” John Gwala wrote on Facebook.
However, Edusei Kennedy wants the move to include all sectors. Babin recently was in the United Arab Emirates for a medical checkup. That formed the basis of Kennedy’s argument as he commented on Facebook.
“Don’t travel abroad for medical checkups. Use our local herbs. If you’re able to achieve these then I can say kudos, other than that then you’re just seeking unnecessary attention.”
“What Ghanaians need is a change of mentally not outfit. We have a long way to go as a country,” Rufai Mohammed added.