SAFETY v STYLE: Masking Our Faces, Masking Our Inconvenience


We knew, of course, that we’d get to this point.

As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic ravaged some of the world’s more developed nations, Ghanaians watched in anticipation of a time when the living among us would step out just as those in China, Italy, Spain, and the USA were (and still are, in fact) — with fabric strapped to our faces, masking noses and mouths.

How, though, would we mask the obvious inconvenience?

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By the time Ghana’s COVID-19 case count rose enough for the president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to prescribe the wearing of masks by all, many had embraced the prospect of the associated discomfort and, on the other hand, of the fact that the no-face-touching measure would now be a tad easier to stick to.

With the global scarcity of such Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), however, there just weren’t enough disposable masks to go round. True to form, Ghanaians — masters of improvisation and at making the best of a bad situation — devised a solution, quickly transforming a potentially life-saving item into an attractive accessory.

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From plain to plaid, material for making masks hasn’t been in short supply. Popular local prints were the earliest variants — and, indeed, they’re still very much in vogue — but bolder types have emerged that make a real fashion statement and, at a glance, one could easily tell from the brand that adorns a mask just where the wearer’s allegiance lies: NDC or NPP, SM Family or BHIM Nation, Arsenal or Chelsea, Asante Kotoko or Hearts of Oak.

Speaking of football clubs, these have actually been encouraged to make the most — a few bucks, at least — out of the trend, especially in these lean times when the absence of competitive sport has left coffers dry.

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“The numbers are there for us to do the calculations, and I will use myself as an example because I support Kotoko,” Hillary Adwoa Boateng, chairperson of the Ghana Football Association’s Women’s League Committee, recently told Starr Sports.

“I tell you if [the likes of] Kotoko, Hearts of Oak, Aduana Stars, Ampem Darkoaa come out with these things, trust me there is no way the fans will not patronize it.”

On the streets and on the markets, there is enough evidence to back that claim.

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And then there are the masks that put the ‘personal’ in PPE, featuring designs that are, in effect, signatures . . . like that in the picture just above which hugs the face of Sam ‘Dzata’ George, a Ghanaian lawmaker, or that in the image right below of photographer Boakye Buckman.

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Legitimate questions could be asked about just how properly – not how beautifully, mind — these masks are made and worn, with safety seemingly sacrificed for style. Still, if that makes it any easier to wear these masks — which, regardless of their newfound appeal, we’d rather do without — not many would be bothered.

Or would they?

NY Frimpong — Daily Mail GH

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