Saturday, July 14, 2007
All dressed up to go where?
By: EBOW DANIEL
WHEN we last heard from them, the Wulomei, in song, were on their way to Meridian, to eat, drink and dance, to have a good time! The Meridian Hotel at Tema has since disappeared from the social landscape. This is why we begin to wonder where anyone might be going when all dressed up.
To church, almost certainly. But it is only our women who can be said to be dressed up for the occasion. The Kaba and skirt have become so stylish the wearer always looks dressed up. But they might be going to work
For the social event, the invitation comes on a card addressed to “Mr. Mensah and Spouse”. Evidently, for being neutral, “spouse” is preferred to “Mr. Mensah and wife”. If the card is addressed to a woman who is married, “spouse” extends the invitation to the man in the house. That is the advantage of the neutral “spouse”.
“Spouse” may be convenient but it shows indifference, if not laziness. This is what it says: We do not care to find out the family status of the person invited, but man or woman, if they are, married, let them bring their spouse!
“Mr. Mensah and Partner” also occurs. For sure, “Mr. & Mrs. Andoh” are on the guest list, so is that any reason for foisting an unknown spouse or partner on Mr. Mensah? Mr. Mensah may now look for anybody willing to accompany him; might that be the idea? On the invitation card, “Mr. Mensah” is without initials. We could find out, surely? Or, for knowing Mr. Mensah to be Akan, we could even risk “Mr. K. Mensah”. But if we are too busy to do any of that, it is the reason we begin to look for the one size that fits all. “Spouse” or “Partner” does indeed fit all.
There are guests who come with expectation. Of course, they are disappointed when beer, wine, brandy or whisky comes in the same glass. Also, when the luncheon to which we have been invited turns to be vegetarian, complaint is to be expected, because we had no warning. It is the Pastor in our midst who may not complain, as he regularly presides over functions where guests are forced-fed sweet drinks apparently because the Good Book is in parts averse to potent drink.
To take sides with the guest who complains, we dare say that pressing one’s food or beverage preferences on others is not good form. We owe the vegetarian an apology when we have not provided for him, surely? The “take it or leave it” response is what Black Americans call “attitude”. "He has an attitude" is no compliment.
Good form is also missing when we ask the person we have invited to be chairman of the event we are organising to bring his CV ahead, so he can be introduced. The point is that nobody may be asked for their CV if they are not looking for employment!
They were certainly dressed up who attended the National Honours Awards at the National Conference Centre on Friday, July 6, 2007. It was also clear from the sartorials in array that the Ghanaian male is yet to come to terms with what to wear at a formal occasion to identify his nationality. Two-piece or three-piece, the agbada identifies us more as ECOWAS nationals. Often, we are in what has come to be known as “Friday – wear”, which is another name for casual.
Nana Otuo Siriboe 11, Juabenhene, Engineer, Farmer, Industrialist and Member of the Council of State, was by no means casual. The Kente he wore, the precious metal ornaments on the upper torso and his sandaled feet identified him as a paramount chief of considerable substance and Ghanaian. This was confirmed also by his response to the Adowabeat as he stepped off stage, after being decorated Member of the Order of the Star of Ghana.
The Secretary-General of the Civil Service Association, Mr., Smart Chigabatia, was also in the outfit that identifies his part of the country, complete with home-made leather boots. He had resounding ovation as he goose-stepped to be decorated with the Order of the Volta.
One of the citations read referred to stabilization of the Cedi, denoted by its redenomination, to bring to the stage Dr. Paul Acquah, Governor of the Bank of Ghana, now admitted to membership of the Order of the Star of Ghana.
Another citation targeted Her Lordship Georgina Wood, Chief Justice, the first female to come to that position, the third in the Republic’s pecking order, whereupon overjoyed females began a hand-clap that drowned the rest of the citation. Her Lordship was still decorated with the insignia of the Order of the Star of Ghana.
Representing all shades of political or ideological orientation and including the young and not so young from all occupational types across the country, others were also decorated. Remarkably absent were party flags or colours.
“Distinguished Award- Winners” featured in the President’s address. We also heard “awardees” and “honorees” and others. “Awardees” and “honorees” are in happy company where “invitee” and "addressee" have been welcomed. But they are both journalese, to be confined to the Press Box, though unlikely.”Distinguihed Award-Winners” more becomes the formality of the occasion.
To begin proceedings, the son of Akokokraba Ampofo, familiar on TV, came on stage to welcome everybody on behalf of the President. Chip off the old block, in poetic Twi exploiting alliteration that was pleasant to the ear, the young man had appellations for nearly all strands of the country’s ethnic configuration. But he had nothing to say of Cape Coast or Elmina, although we were the first to host seafarers visiting from across the Atlantic five hundred years ago.
For good or ill, the consequences of that initial encounter in Elmina with foreigners includes the Ghana that we celebrate today. For the slight in not mentioning us, both Akokoraba and Akokokrababa will surely hear from the revived Fante Confederacy!
While we were still sulking, Atukwei Okai, recipient of the Order of the Volta took the stage to render “Obuntu”, the declamatory piece worthy of the national poet-in-residence.
For those of us who complain ever so often, the bill of fare at the reception was different. Pastries came refreshingly warm. Proteins went beyond chicken. Beverages featured quite arange, and there was enough for all. For once, we could say a good time was had by all!
National Honours Awards might be one event to attend when all dressed up, and not going to church.
TIMES WEEKEND - Saturday, July 14, 2007 Page: 14