Speaker Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin at the first meeting of the Second Session of the Eighth Parliament, on Tuesday, broke with tradition by wearing a southern Ghanaian chief’s apparrel instead of the cloak of the Speaker.
Cladded in a beautiful red, yellow, green, blue and white Ghanaian kente cloth, over a white jumper shirt, he wore beads around his neck and left hand and a gold plated traditional crown to match.
This is the first time a Speaker of the Fourth Republican Parliament of Ghana has conducted official duties in the Chamber with a traditional outfit other than the cloak of the Speaker.
The Speaker in his remarks said: “This is 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.
Declaring that, “My outfit today, as the Speaker presiding, is to set in motion that agenda”.
Mr Bagbin reiterated that the practice of Members of Parliament (MPs) decently dressed in traditional attire led by the Speaker was long overdue.
He said Ghanaians expected representation of the people to include representation of the full identity of the Ghanaian – that is culture, tradition and more importantly their dress code.
“I am glad that this decision accords with some of the propositions of the first President of Ghana, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, and the other founding members of the Parliament of the First Republic,” he stated.
The Speaker said the dominant dress code of members of the National Assemblies of independent Ghana was native costume.
He recalled that the Speaker of the first Parliament of the First Republic of the Country – 1960 to 1965 – Mr Joseph Richard Asiedu appreciated and practiced it.
He said the robe, the headgear and bib, constituted the ceremonial dress of the Speaker.
“This ceremonial dress is worn to distinguish the Speaker from members and to reflect the pomp and pageantry of special national occasions,” he said.
“It was therefore, meant to be worn on only those special occasions.”
He said the ceremonial dress was not meant to be a daily apparel of the Speaker; saying “Even the British has long abandoned this dress code”.
The Speaker said Ghana had long abandoned only the headgear and the bib.
“Honourable Members, I assure you, we are not on a walk in the park in this journey of renaissance and transformation. We will not walk alone in this matter. We have a lot of followers and supporters. It is with this, I happily invite all of you to wear Ghana, grow Ghana, eat Ghana, brand Ghana, and transform Ghana,” he said.
“From now I want to see more Members appear in Parliament decently adorned in traditional dress.”
He called on MPs to dig deep into the wealth of their innate wisdom and that they should do this together in peace, joy, love and respect for the diversity of cultures, traditions and way of dressing in the country.
He said all what leaders, particularly the whip and himself (the Speaker) must ensure was to enforce the rule of prim, prompt and decent dressing in the House.