On a normal day, Ghana’s Parliament can be described as a hot theatre full of sizzling partisan debates, occasional outbursts and, once in a blue moon, walkouts largely by the opposition. But last Thursday, the situation was different. It was not ‘normal’.
What started ‘like business as usual’ on the main Floor of the House eventually turned into a festival of laughter triggered by the unrefined pronunciation of names of some Ghanaian communities with sexually suggestive (you may call them profane) connotations.
By Ghanaian cultural convention, names revolving around the male and female genitalia are restricted to the bedroom and pronounced by married couples and the very elderly, but when a Member of Parliament badly needs development projects for his constituents and has to lobby in parliament for the projects, those conventions can be thrown to the dogs, at least for a moment. That was what happened on Thursday.
The Member for Abirem constituency in the Eastern region, Hon. John Osei Frimpong, had a rare opportunity to question the Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, about plans by government to connect some communities in the constituency to the national electrification grid. Breaking the cultural protocol, he went like:
“I want to know whether the Ministry has plans to provide off-grid electricity to the following communities which are difficult to connect to the national grid: Akyiri Ahantan, TWENWINSO, ETWE NIM NYANSA, KOTE YE ABOA, HWOA YE MMOBO, Akyekyeresu , Tetteh Brofo , Asarekrom , Alhajikrom and Yaw Broni”.
That was when the House was thrown into prolonged, uncontrollable laughter, largely from the male MPs. While the male MPs were seen on camera gleefully enjoying the drama and calling for an encore, the female members of the House displayed countenances of restlessness.
Their edginess is quite understandable because, while “kote ye aboa” literally means the penis is stupid, “etwe nim nyansa” means the vagina is wise. ‘Twenwinso’ also ‘female pubic hair’, and ‘Hwoa ye mmobo’ means ‘the testicle is pitiful’.
Interestingly, seated in the public gallery as the question was asked on behalf of the residents and subsequently answered were Nana Dr. Boakye Dakwah III, Chief of Pankese who is also the chief of Kote Ye Aboa and Hwoa ye Mmobo.
As if hit with a blow the Minister, after soaking the shock, gave a rather humorous response, which further generated a more electrifying laughter.
“Mr. Speaker, I now understand why the Member from Abirem belongs to a happy lot. Coming from a constituency with such names, you can’t but only be happy. … I suspect that providing them with electricity may interfere with the nocturnal activities as suggested by their names” he said.
Since that historic moment, there has been much talk on social media, with some people virtually castigating the MP for not applying some form of euphemism in his presentation.
THE PUBLISHER disagrees with those castigating the MP, and wishes to congratulate Hon. Frimpong on his bluntness on the floor of Parliament. The paper thinks that, if indeed there are names like Etwe nim nyansa and Kote ye aboa, in his constituency, then the issue of euphemism doesn’t come in at all.
His duty is to fight for the development of his constituency, and he was doing just that. We think by going blunt the way he did, he had rather put those communities on the world map and on the internet.