Ghana (and sub-Saharan Africa at large) loves its ceremonies – the elegant traditional dress, the singing and dancing, the honor and status, the gathering of community, and especially the speeches, speeches, speeches.
Typical ceremonies, including church services, can last several hours. I did not know on Thursday that the ‘Love to Read campaign launch’ was in fact a commissioning ceremony for a new library in Kpedze [ped-jay], but I quickly realized we were not there for a meeting. To be honest, my heart leapt when I learned our actual purpose. The shortage of books in Ghana – especially non-Christian literature – is disheartening at best for an avid reader like myself.
A few development partners, including PoP’s friends DIVOG, have spent the past several weeks building and outfitting a library for the community. A Canadian NGO Links Across Borders, under Professor Sylvia Morrison, has led this project.
Prof. Morrison, Jamaican by birth, was honored in an ‘enstooling ceremony.’ In short, the village chiefs made her a queen of Kpedze – a very high honor.
Traditionally, kings and queens are presented with beads, a staff, and various gifts once they have been seated on their elaborately carved stools. In return, a king or queen is expected to care for the community. The honorary title now extends to particularly influential development partners, like Prof. Morrison, as a symbol of immense gratitude for the work they have performed on behalf of the community. She received the title Mama Agbalényó, or Queen Mother Book is Good. (And yes, even my Ghanaian colleagues thought the name was ridiculous.)
As staff photographer, I passed the majority of the ceremony standing, snapping photos of the fun. But after nearly four hours, I was glad to stop and sit for lunch.