Masqueraders are responsible members of society – Chief Masquerader speaks
•Masqueraders are people from diverse backgrounds
Has it ever crossed your mind that your pastor, doctor, lecturer, that senior officer in any of the security services or the famous food vendor in your neigh bourhood could be the face behind a masquerade you have been seeing at a programme?
Be informed that masqueraders known locally as “kaakamotobi”, who dress in fancy-clothes dancing at festivals and displaying in vari ous forms are responsible members of society.
Typically, they wear masks, which make them fearful but this adds a level of excitement to the festival. During Christmas and New Year celebrations or other events, it is a handful of them who wear masks with most of them exposing their faces.
In an interview with The Spectator, the President of the Masquerades Association in Tema , Mr. Justice Gameli explained that the leadership of the various groups had taken a decision not to disguise themselves again so that the public would easily identify them.
“This is because, many people think Masqueraders are vagabonds but this is not true. We have very responsible members in the secu rity services, clergy, health sector, business and academia among others and I am sure if people see and identify them they would have a change of mind about masquer ades,” he said.
According to him, the associ ation had over 15, 000 members and it was opened to anybody who is ready to abide by the rules and regulations. He emphasised that even disability was not an excuse to deny a person membership into the association.
Mr. Gameli said many of their members were the youth who had been educated to stay away from all unacceptable social behaviours and crimes such as drug abuse, teenage pregnancy among others.
He said as part of the programme for the year, “they socialise and organise mentorship programme for the youth to discover their talents to promote the association and develop their communities and the nation as a whole”.
Recounting their major challenges he mentioned that costuming took a lot of their time and funds to sup port the association. He, therefore, called on corporate institutions to come to their aid with funding and to promote their businesses with the association’s branded costumes.
Mr Gameli added that with assistance from various institutions, it would help the association to en gage in corporate social responsibil ities to develop their communities and the youth.
He commended the Ghana Tourism Development Company for ex tending a hand to them to promote the culture of masquerade which had gained roots in some of the regions in the country.
He promised that the association would work hard to ensure that the festival stays to make Tema and its environs an attractive place to be during Christmas and the New Year and even beyond to make the area a preferred tourism destination.
From Dzifa Tetteh Tay, Tema.