I’m writing in response to what you said about the dress code of ladies in my school, the University of Ghana, Legon. Before I proceed, however, let me caution you to keep this letter more securely than a diplomatic cable.
Our republic is getting scary, and there seems to be no secret these days. Individual bank statements are now splashed in newspapers and private letters are intercepted even before the writer posts them. When Dr Kwabena Adjei, the National Democratic Congress (NDC Chairman), wrote what was supposed to be a confidential letter to President Mills, the media received a copy before it got to the Osu Castle.
So be careful with my letters. I don’t think you want these Legon ladies to accost yours truly, and with their mouths like talking birds that have eaten too much pepper, tear me into shreds. Some of our ladies here have tongues that are sharper than the edge of a circumcision blade. With their locally-acquired European and American accents, I will regret being born if they intercept this letter. I already have enough on my head on this campus. I’ve been compelled to abandon my favourite Bush Canteen after publishing an article about the appalling sanitation situation at the university’s popular eatery. That’s just by the way.
Serwaa, I’m sad that we’re still grappling with these basic issues after being in a relationship all these years. One thing I said I could not compromise, right at the beginning of our relationship, is indecent dressing. I have never failed to draw your attention to your outfits, though you’re also never tired of reminding me that the issue of decency is highly subjective. However, I least expected you to retort sharply the way you did when I complained about your dress code last Friday, which almost exposed your nipples.
“Are you not in Legon?” you snapped before I ended.
“What has being in Legon got to do with your provocative outfit?” I asked.
“Are you saying you don’t see more indecent dressing on Legon Campus than this?”
Serwaa, that comparison stung me like a bee. First of all, one thing you should note is that the dress code of Legon ladies is not the standard for others. For heaven’s sake, it is not all ladies in Legon who dress that way. Why did you not compare yourself to the decent ones? Like some of my Christian sisters at the National Union of Presbyterian Students, Ghana (NUPS-G)? Or better still, you could use the decent ones in your own school as models.
Do you remember the last time I visited you on campus I said I liked how the ladies of your school dressed?
“Well, this is Kwame Nkrumah University of Spiritual Training – KNUST – for you,” you remarked sarcastically. Not long ago, I also heard your Vice Chancellor, at the induction of the Moderator of the Global Evangelical Church; refer to your school as the “University for Spiritual Training.” Well, if it is so, why don’t you use them as a benchmark? And for your information, not all Legon ladies are like what you think. And you ought to be careful you don’t repeat that anywhere. You know we are rivals?
I used to think that the rivalry between educational institutions existed only at the senior high school level until I came here. Just last Sunday, it was manifested at the Church Service of the Methodist and Presbyterian Union (MPU). Mr Emmanuel Boakye Agyarko, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate for Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, was invited to chair the launch of this year’s Hallelufesto, our mega musical concert.
In his opening remarks, Mr Agyarko said he felt at home because he was a strong Presbyterian, who was also trained at Presbyterian and Methodist Schools. He mentioned a Methodist School in Kumasi, and he was applauded. He also said he attended Prempeh College before going to PRESEC for his Sixth Form. More Applause!
“From there, I went to KNUST to read Pharmacy,” he ended. And to my surprise, the Central Cafeteria exploded: Aaaahhh!”
“He has spoilt his record,” a young man who sat next to me remarked.
So, never make an unfavourable comparison or remark about Legon, especially when not all of them are like that.
My role model, Chinua Achebe, has a proverb I like so much. He said in his novel, Arrow of God, that if you beat any rhythm in a big house, you will always get someone to dance to it. Apostle Paul puts its more succinctly in 2Timothy 2:20 of the Holy Bible: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.”
So I admit that, like in your school, we have the shameless kind of ladies you’re talking about here in Legon. They have debased themselves to the level of sex objects and I wonder the essence of their university education.
They walk about practically naked, and there are some of them you must not sit behind in a lecture room if you want to understand what is being taught. I have read somewhere in the African Writers Series when a man was said to have seen a woman’s beads. Guess what the writer meant? He was simply saying the young man had slept with the woman.
Can that be said today? It will be madness. Not only do these ladies show their beads but they also show their —. Sorry, I nearly said “assholes.”
See, the madness driving our country to its ruins is this foolishness they mistake for human rights. Talk about indecent dressing on campuses and you’ll get someone to spin weird tales about abusing students’ fundamental human rights.
Interestingly, the Ghana School of Law is just behind my department and you often find them in uniforms. Yes, uniforms! Dark suits and ties in the blistering sun. You cannot dress anyhow in the Ghana School of Law. But do the law students not know their rights?
Judges and lawyers who are the custodians of our human rights don’t tolerate indecency. Two years ago, a judge in Accra walked a female student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism out of his court on the ground indecent dressing. The student was there to do a class assignment. How shameful!
That wayward dressing is a sign of immaturity. By merely looking at the appearance of ladies on campus, you can tell a graduate student from an undergraduate. I’m sure some of the graduate students behaved the same way but they are now too mature for that. Serwaa, you’re not growing any younger.
My love, I know I’m being too harsh. But sometimes, words need to have a stinging effect. I love you and want your appearance and everything about you to connote dignity. It is true that on Legon campus, when you see some ladies, the only possible thing you can think about is sex. They are happy when guys refer to them as sexy.
But the truth is that no serious minded guy wants to date a sex symbol. See, the worth of such ladies ends after ejaculation. But there’s more to a relationship than sex, you know? There are also some ladies here on campus, who are so decent that your mind goes to marriage anytime you see them. Be among the latter.
I’m a female gender advocate, remember? The battle for gender equality will forever remain fruitless if women continue to reduce themselves to sex symbols. I don’t see the sense in ladies featuring in music videos almost naked while the male artiste, whose track they are helping promote, is in a suit and tie.
Are the Okyeame Kwames or the Sarkodies superior to their female artistes? Why do their equally talented female counterparts such as Mzbel think that showbiz is about showing one’s vital parts on stage? Former American First Lady, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, teaches us that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. You ladies must learn send the right signals to men who think they are divinely superior to you just because they have two balls and a rod.
Serwaa my love, please, don’t ever point to Legon ladies again when I complain about any attitude of yours. They are not your benchmark or the benchmark for the morality of our society. Besides, I have no control over them and will not risk confronting them and asking them to dress properly. What moral authority do I have? Over you, however, I have that right in much the same way you have the right over me.
I love you and will forever remain true to you. My mind, heart, and soul have settled on you, and understanding should be the password of our love.
On this understanding shall we build our marriage and the gates of divorce shall not prevail against it.