“Hair Spray in Parliament” by Ewuradwoa Assaba Paintsil

Somewhere last week, my dad engaged me in a conversation that set me thinking. He was fanatical about the calibre of persons in Parliament, and how a gallant institution such as the Courts of Ghana existed to give meaning to laws created by persons in Parliament. He beautifully convinced me that it would make more sense if most Parliamentarians were lawyers, even if not practising ones. I promptly agreed without giving it much thought. It makes sense right? If people are eventually going to make their cases in court based on what Parliament passes as laws, then it would make sense that they who relatively have a more holistic view of the law be the very ones who debate on which laws to pass before they eventually do pass them.

In December 2016, one Madam Mercy Adu-Gyamfi a.k.a. Ama Sey pulled 21,433 votes in the Parliamentary elections in the Akwatia Constituency in the Eastern Region, beating Mr Baba Jamal, the incumbent MP who doubled as the Deputy Minister for Employment & Labour Relations. The latter, who calls himself a ‘professional politician’ who also is a lawyer pulled 15,905 votes. His ardent campaign advice to the people had been that a vote for the now Akwatia MP would be a wasted vote as she was merely a hairdresser and could barely contribute anything useful to Parliament. This obviously fell on deaf ears, as Ama Sey holds the seat for the constituency.

But Ghanafuor kasa! The ‘world’ was patiently awaiting the manifestation of Ama Sey’s ‘powers’ in Parliament. And she didn’t disappoint! On December 19, 2017, when she made her first submission in Parliament, the media went haywire. In fact, one of the captions I chanced upon read “Hairdresser MP delivers powerful address to constituents.” Just in case you’re wondering, no, she did not sound like Berla Munde or Joselyn Dumas, but she did send her point across pretty clearly in submitting that she was not too pleased with the management of the Ghana Consolidated Diamond Limited located in her constituency!

So did my dad and Baba Jamal have a point? In all honesty, at first glance, they did. But let’s take another second to think about what really lawmaking is about. Every law student is familiar with Almighty Sowah JSC’s submission in Tuffuor v Attorney General which says that the Constitution is a document that captures the will and aspirations of the people of Ghana. He further submitted that it mirrored the past of the people and was a pertinent in the ascertainment of progress for the Ghanaian. Justice Marshall had same to say in the case we read some 15 times- Marbury v Madison. He acknowledged that the basis of the whole American Constitution was so that the American could establish for their future governments such principles that they thought would promote their own happiness.

While acknowledging that the focus of these Justices was the Constitution, it may be argued that this is the aim of law as a whole – from all the Article 11 sources (Acts of Parliaments and all instruments, Customary Law, Common Law, etc.) to the unspoken sources of law (judicial precedents, legal writings and publications).

If Friedrich Von Savigny were alive, he’d wonder what the fuss was about. Savigny is the father of what is known as the Volksgeist, which is the basic component of the Historical School of Jurisprudence. For him, this was the spirit of the people which manifested itself in physical elements such as language and law in any society. So for Savigny and his ever-faithful disciple Puchta, the law and everything it came with were only reflections of the spirit of the people.

So the question is: Can a hairdresser tell what the hopes and aspirations of the people of her constituency are? Can she mirror their history in her submissions as she searches for progress for her people? Can she adequately capture the spirit of the people of Akwatia during debates in Parliament? Can she propose vital principles that should guide the Government in a bid to secure the happiness of her people even if her English flows like original organic honey?

They say you do not ask questions and answer them yourself, but permit me to break this rule. Heck yeah she can! In fact, if anyone knows the woes of the average resident of Akwatia, it would be a hairdresser! So does Madam Ama Sey, Honourable Member of Parliament for Akwatia have prospects of success in her administration? Certainly yes, if she puts in the work required!

My only reservation in making this assertion is; what if we had 275 Ama Seys in Parliament?