By Nii B. Andrews.
In the world of contemporary African art (CAA), Ghana and specifically Accra is known as the home of the fantasy coffin aka ABEBU ADEKA or box of proverbs/ aphorisms.
The fantasy coffin is a custom made sarcophagus built to resemble a significant element of a person’s life. The tradition is almost certainly less than 100 years and the genesis is often attributed to the legendary Ga master carpenter, Kane Kwei.
If death as acknowledged in almost all cultures is “darkness” then the motivating source behind the often lavish Ghana funeral is multidimensional including, honoring the memory of a deceased person’s life as well as embracing the “hereafter” towards which the deceased is headed.
Central to the posthumous construction of identity that takes place in Ghanaian tradition is the ABEBU ADEKA.
Roberta Bonetti contends, “As story-telling symbols, fantasy coffins are concise and pointed narratives expressed in a type of visual ‘writing’ that negotiates a new identity for the deceased”.
What then is the new identity that our Parliament seeks to negotiate for the LGBTQ+ community in ghana or for that matter our society as a whole?
The Bill even has the pompous and provocative title: “The Promotion of Proper Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values, Bill 2021″….no kidding, just try wrapping your head round that!
Here are a few toxic excerpts from it.
Any person who “holds out as a lesbian, a gay, a transgender, a transsexual, a queer, a pansexual, an ally, a non-binary or any other sexual or gender identity that is contrary to the binary categories of male and female.” commits an offence.
Section 14 of the Bill proposes the prohibition of funding or sponsorship for LGBTQ+-related activities.
Therefore it will “prohibit a person who funds or sponsors an activity prohibited under the Act commits an offence and is liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years.”
The Bill also proposes the disbandment of all LGBTQ+ groups, societies, associations, clubs and organizations.
All groups in existence before the Bill came into existence and are intended to promote such activities are to be disbanded.
If this Bill is passed, it will serve to define – or depending on your perspective, solidify our glorious nation as a backward, useless and annoying country with poorly educated or disingenuous or arrogant so called leaders; a s***hole where might is right!
Such shall be our deserved identity.
And that is far removed from the enlightened respect accorded us from the fabrication of our colorful fantasy coffins, stunning and rhythmic kente cloths; the intellectual depth of our Adinkra symbols and drum language; the elegance of an Akuaba doll; precise intimate miniaturisation of our gold weights; or the panache of an Anatsui metal cloth sculpture and the philosophical poignancy of an Ablade Glover painting.
All of this and more will be replaced by the meanness and intellectual dwarfism exemplified and amplified in this pernicious and disgraceful Bill.
This Bill is not ‘visual writing’; this is a proposed law that reinforces bigotry with moral and intellectual retrogression of the worst kind; it makes a mockery – a pitiful sham of our country’s avowed commitment to Freedom and Justice.
When carefully analysed and properly understood, it ought to be an affront to every patriot.
Indeed, every clear thinking and principled human being should be appalled by its provisions.
If we are serious and knowledgeable about our proverbs and aphorisms; true traditions, history and culture; if we really have aspirations for a modern, progressive and inclusive society; then there is only one thing to do with this predatory bill.
To oppose it and ensure that it is buried in a nasty, nail joined, plain, raw wawa coffin with zero ceremony; and return it to the darkness from whence it came.