Last month several African leaders met in China for a historic economic session with Chinese leaders. Dubbed the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the “Ethiopia in Beijing” summit understandably put the West in a quandary because it sees China as chipping away at its socio-economic (and probably cultural) hold and gain on Africa since Europeans set foot on the “the sleeping continent of the world.” However, our focus at this point in time is not on the economies of the mega summit, but the Africannes of the leaders in attendance.

On a roundtable – or rather a rectangular table – session shown worldwide, almost all the African leaders were seen in Western-style suits. On this score, we missed the likes of former Nigerian President Obasanjo.  We aren’t sure whether China’s protocol dictated that African leaders to the mega-summit must be in suits! We are not sure either if the U.N. General Assembly has laid down protocol that also demands Western-style suits as its dress code!

But it is not only African political leaders who are “afflicted” with the status quo of Western clothes. Last month, the Ghana Mission to the UN hosted President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and invited cross section of the Ghanaian community. The invitation did not stipulate a dress code, but we think the word “dinner” did the trick. Purely a Ghanaian affair, the number of revelers in their national and traditional clothes could be finger-counted. Almost all males were in suits, probably because “dinner” is a status symbol in Western terminology that connotes good education, profession, and higher social level. Paradoxically, the sumptuous food – including the tasty and delicious goat meat and pepper soup – was Ghanaian!

Yet again last month (looks like September is the peak of social gatherings), New York City Mayor De Blasio and his wife invited some Africans to Gracie Mansion (official residence of the Mayor) for the first African Heritage Reception. This time, though, the planners did a better job, for the invitation stipulated dress code as “festive and traditional attire.” And indeed, the festive mood of the event was crowned with a gorgeous mosaic of multi-cultured African costume and wear. It was a marvelous sight to behold.

Generally, judges in Ghana and elsewhere in Africa still wear the colonial-era ermine and the horsehair wig at the bench. Black color absorbs heat, so one can imagine how that attire feels in a courtroom that lacks well-functioning air-conditioning and ventilation! Contemporary science has also proven the correlation between hair products used by African women (to straighten their hair) and hormonal imbalances and other health conditions.

Amandla wishes to remind Africans that until and unless we embrace and enhance our God-given natural selves, we will always remain secondary in the eyes of those we struggle to “be equal to!” Fortunately, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. For a start most Ghanaian media practitioners  back home now proudly utilize their indigenous given names at birth. And in recent years, younger Ghanaian women have started going the natural way of hairdo mostly practiced by their southern African counterparts. We have a long way to go to enshrine the African identity and personality propounded by Ghana’s first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Let’s do the right thing ny being our natural selves!

Posted by on Oct 13 2018. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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