The recent, most apparent snub of the Accra Mayor Alfred Vanderpuije by Former president Jerry John Rawlings has brought to prominence the issue of etiquette at state functions.
Rawlings was attending Thursday’s State of the Nation address delivered by President John Mahama in Parliament with his entourage when the incident took place.
In the video, a very stern-faced Rawlings is seen taking a swipe at the mayor as the latter tries to spark a conversation with him as they climb the stairs of parliament.
Rawlings stops and gestures him to move aside whiles he continues to parliament house. Vanderpuije then moves back and greets some colleagues.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of an event, especially a prestigious one, is the red carpet. A lot of people would indeed agree it is the most anticipated part. The glitz that goes into making a five minute long, head turning and unforgettable impression on the red carpet could be the most expensive yet profitable thing a person could do. It is traditionally used to mark the route taken by heads of States on ceremonial and official occasions, and also extended to heads of missions on some official occasions.
So it begs the question; how is one supposed to behave at state functions.
1. When one is on the red carpet, the person is expected to be in motion. Stopping is only appropriate when in a media mixed zone or when alone and press photographers ask for poses.
papa Jay with Okoe on the red carpet
2. Limit loud conversations: Although red carpets are noisy in general, avoid talking when other reporters are conducting interviews. Print journalists use recording devices that can pick up a lot of background noise. The last thing they need is to have to filter out your conversation when transcribing their interview.
3. Get there early; Arrive at the event with enough time to allow for traffic, parking and credential verification. If you arrive late, it’s likely that most of the good spots will already be taken and squeezing yourself in between veteran reporters is disruptive.
4. The most important personality or the guest of the event is the last to go inside the auditorium. And as soon as he or she does, the doors are supposed to be closed and no one follows.
5. Give the appropriate salutations when addressing the sections eg, His Excellency, His Majesty, Nananom etc. some of these little but important accolades matter to the individual at that particular moment.
6. Greetings are expected to start from the left side to the right side, when in Ghana – per tradition.
7. Guest should keep to the left of the host
The accompanying members walk about two meters behind the designated person, keeping to his left-hand side. Taking a critical look at the trending video of H.E. Jerry Rawlings and Mayor Oko Vanderpuije, one will notice that, the accompanying members of Jerry Rawlings understood the protocol governing the official red carpet. The three accompanying members were at about few meters behind the former President, taking to his left-hand side of due to the open environment.
John Mahama with Nana Addo at the flagstaff house
Indeed, during a recent visit by president-elect Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo Addo to the flagstaff, the incoming President is clearly seen keeping to the left side of the host, John Dramani Mahama.
8. Always follow what the security personnel tells you. Obey instructions of security personnel. They have all the right to make your life miserable when you try to disobey them. At that particular moment, they dictate to you because the success of the event depends on them.
9. .Try and talk to only people you are familiar with, people who know you well enough to show respect and interest in what you have to say. When someone is clearly not interested in your conversation, you do not unnecessarily persevere – for that would be risking humiliation in the full glare of the media and onlookers. With respect to the Rawlings-Vanderpuije saga, it was obvious they aren’t as familiar with each other (or fond of each other, perhaps) but Vanderpuije tried to cozy up to him, thinking the formality of the occasion could compel Rawlings to be hospitable (for the cameras). But he was in for a rude and humiliating shock.