Finally, thousands of Ghanaians gathered at the Black Star Square on 7th January 2017, to witness and celebrate the investiture of our new leader, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and his Vice, Dr. Mahamoud Bawumia.
We witnessed a bevvy of Heads of State from the African continent and beyond, coming to wish us well. The Head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and President of the Republic of Liberia, Her Excellency, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, delivered a beautiful address and so did the Special Guest for the Occasion, President of Ivory Coast, His Excellency Alassane Ouattara. Their messages made me nod with pride as an African and above all, a Ghanaian –they expressed admiration for Ghana’s lead role on the continent and being the trail blazer of democracy on the continent (but I could not appreciate President Ouattara's admonishing to the First Lady, Mrs. Akufo Addo, when he used the word “my condolence”). I took it as “English word gone bad in French). I'm sure he must have intended 'my congratulations.'
I monitored the event behind my television like any other ordinary Ghanaian who could not get accreditation to be there. I sat on tenterhooks when the event commenced. Why? For the obvious reason that the last time we had such an official ceremony at the same event, we had protocol go bad. That was the infamous “Independence Day Brochure” debacle. But the State Protocol and Organizers came through perfectly this time around.
The set-up, ushering, emceeing, crowd control etcetera, went seamlessly smooth (I also enjoyed the “br)fo” commentary given by Nana Yaa Ofori Atta and her team. I was relaxed because I thought we must present an international commentary – commentary with “swag”, until they started wrongly identifying very prominent personalities – I mean HOOOOOWWWW??
But one significant part of the ceremony that caught my attention that I think is worth sharing was the display of beautiful Ghanaian culture.
The presence of the State Drums and the Ghana Dance Ensemble established the presence of culture on the grounds. Drummers and Dancers were on point.
There was also the beautiful display of our rich kente cloth. The traditional authorities that graced the occasion were attired in the kente cloth and beautifully adorned in royal accessories. I can confidently, though unscientific, say that all the beautiful Ghanaian women at the event had a trace of kente design in their apparel. The typical Akan men wrapped their cloth on their warrior-like bare chest. Others were also in their well –sewn and pressed boubou and batakari outfits.
His Excellency the President was not left out of the traditional vogue (I was apprehensive when GTV showed on the screens the arrival of the President at the Conference Center, in a small sized smock. I was convinced it was a bad choice of fashion for such an occasion). But knowing the man we have mandated to lead us and his penchant for modern fashion, I knew he would appear differently at the Black Star Square). True to my thoughts, President Nana Addo appeared at the square in his spotless woven royal kente with all the traditional adinkra symbols represented (please do not doubt me).
Did you observe his majestic walking steps? Eiiiii, President one (1) – no size! The President typified royalty and how to walk when dressed in a cloth- with the hand on the waist. It was beautiful – “I saw it, I liked it, and I am saying it”. Hahahahaha!
Then I noticed the “procession” of the Heads of State and other dignitaries to pay homage, as it were, to the newly installed President. His Excellences respectfully went up the dais to exchange pleasantries with President Nana Akufo Addo. One striking moment was that, the President sat down to shake hands with the people. The Vice President and the Speaker had to rise from their seats to shake hands anytime someone was introduced on to the dais (Mr. Vice President, please save any plans to have any physical exercise for the next few weeks- getting up and down was enough exercise). Obviously, it is our African way of showing respect but the President did the opposite. Please do not be quick to misjudge the President yet. Indeed the President was spot on. He was right not to rise. Little wonder he has links to the Okyeman Royalty. In our Akan culture, the Chief or King sits to receive pleasantries and on this occasion, the President was the King. I read on the lips of the President, his words of confusion when he asked his aide or protocol officer whether he was to stand or sit to greet former President Kufuor when President Kufour got his turn to greet him (if you doubt me on this one too, you can ask the President). I will not be surprised if the visiting Presidents go home and replicate this style.
One thing I am not sure about though, Mr. President, was why you only showed the State Sword to the people (in the 360 degrees turn) without the usual raising of the sword three times (up and down), to signify your pledge to respond to the call of the people in the morning, afternoon and evening?
But generally, it was an impressive ceremony by all standards. First and Second Ladies, you looked gorgeous! Mr. and Mrs. Rawlings, once again you stole the show - your hugs and smiles with the President and his Vice, were sincere and genuine. Thank you.
“I will protect the public purse, if you want to make money get into the Private Sector. Do not be SPECTATORS, be CITIZENS” – H. E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, Black Star Square, 7th January 2017.