Alban Bagbin was seen in a different outfit
This was during the first meeting of the second session
He indicated that he will only wear the Speaker’s cloak on occasions
At the first sitting of the second session of the 8th Parliament on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, Ghanaians were anxiously waiting for the reintroduction of the controversial Electronic Transaction Levy, E-levy, – something that ended the last session abruptly – to be passed into law but it turned out that the E-levy was not part of the business of the House.
Rather, something ‘unusual’ happened in Parliament that got many people talking. The Rt. Hon Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, presided over the proceedings of the House in what Parliament described as “a more indigenous wear from the Volta region” after ditching his usual Speaker’s cloak i.e. the long garment, the headgear, and bib.
Speaker Bagbin showed up in Parliament clad in his kente cloth over a white lace shirt and a black and gold crown and gold necklace as worn by a section of the traditional leaders in the Volta region.
But why the Speaker’s new look for commencement of proceedings for Parliamentary business?
In an interview late last year, the Speaker announced that he would only be using the Speaker’s cloak for ceremonial occasions this year as part of his commitment to change the dress code and code of conduct of MPs.
In his official welcome to the House, Alban Bagbin urged the MPs to take a cue from his outfit and dress in traditional wear just like the first President of the nation, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.
He explained that, his rich traditional outfit worn on the first day of the second session of Parliament is to set in motion the agenda that, the Parliament of Ghana is “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. My outfit today, as the Speaker presiding, is to set in motion that agenda.”
Bagbin noted, “the practice of MPs decently dressed in traditional attire led by the Speaker is long overdue. Ghanaians accept representation of the people to include representation of the full identity of the Ghanaian – i. e. 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. The dominant dress code of members of the National Assemblies of independent Ghana was a native costume. The Speaker of the first Parliament of the First Republic of the Country – 1960 to 1965 – Rt Hon Joseph Richard Asiedu appreciated and practiced it.”
He explained further that his usual Speaker’s cloak constitutes the ceremonial dress of the Speaker whereby when it is worn, it distinguishes the Speaker from the MPs to reflect the pomp and pageantry of special national occasions, hence, it will be worn only on special occasions.
“Hon Members, the robe, i. e the long garment, the headgear, and bib, constitute 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. It was therefore meant to be worn on only those special occasions. The ceremonial dress is not meant to be a daily apparel of the Speaker. Even the British has long abandoned this dress code. Ghana has long abandoned only the headgear and the bib.
“Hon 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. From now I want to see more Members appear in Parliament decently adorned in traditional dress,” Alban Bagbin said.
“Hon Members I call on you to dig deep into the wealth of your innate wisdom and let us do this together in peace, joy, love, and respect for the diversity of cultures, traditions, and ways of dressing in the country. All what leaders, particularly the Whip and myself must ensure is to enforce the rule of prim, prompt, and decent dressing in the House,” he stressed.