Anago Gangster: The Art of Looking Ridiculous

Perhaps a day came and brought with it an epiphany that life is a lot more exciting with some sense of humor and it––the epiphany––took you by the shoulders and shook out, from you, some of that toxic seriousness. I am not sure when I had this experience. It seems that I have always been playful (my lessons have been how to not be excessively so, so to cease having to issue several I am sorry notes). 

Disclaimer: I do not think this outfit ridiculous in the sense that it is idiotic. I find it ridiculous in the sense that it is brilliant! Now, the whole purpose of looking ridiculous is not for others, it is really for you. It is for every time you pass a surface that throws back your reflection, and teases you into a smile; for every time you remember that you look a bit out of it, i.e. OMG! You're actually wearing what you really want to! Or every time you meet someone’s eyes and see that peculiar twinkle in them that says they ‘get it.’  The thing is, wearing something playful helps keep you present.

It is not very easy to exit the safety of your comfort zone, your home,  into the streets wearing something that is...ahem, and what is this exactly? But one must try and live a little daringly or foolishly––call it what you like. One learns, quite often than not, that, that which initially seemed ridiculous is not really so. 

Anago is the Krobo word for Nigeria, but it is also the name of an exaggerated Nigerian inspired style worn by Ghanaians. The anago is often worn to engagement parties, other words fancy events. A woman’s Anago is often a four piece set: an oversized and often extravagant lace embellished blouse; a long wrap skirt or drawstring skirt; a scarf that is often arranged on just one shoulder; and a head scarf that is often transformed into that fascinating gele. What I wear here’ve guessed it, the oversized blouse! This is, however, a lot bigger than it ought to be. But this is Mother’s Anago and I have no desire to bring it in––I only hemmed the sleeves because that was quite necessary. 

When first I saw my reflection in this blouse, I laughed quite hard. I was certain I had not the guts to walk out in it. Do not get me wrong, I loved the look immediately for it is fun, super playful, and promises many spontaneous giggles. But a declaration to my reflection that I could not go out like so collided into a rebellious streak. Why not was the answer that escaped me!

Having decided that I might as well dare, things got really exciting. I fetched my jewelry box because everyone knows that ‘Nigerian inspired’ means going big! I did not stop at my Happy Koryo, which added this gangster (Oh, have you seen that SNL sketch: "Bushwick, Brooklyn." A parody on a concept of the contemporary gangster? HILARIOUS!) bling-bling effect that got me bawling. I fished out the faux pearl necklace next and thought bingo! Then the super long strand of brown beads was the necessary over-the-top ingredient. Ah, but it did not feel done. I wanted something to make the look more easygoing. The jeans, my brother's hand-me-downs, was good as was my tennis shoes but I wanted things to be a lot more laid-back, more playful, and that is when I fished out my AmeriCorps baseball hat. Ta-da! 

The first people I encountered were three men who work in my building. I knew one of them and when I greeted him it was quite obvious that he was trying his best to suppress a laugh. As I walked away from them, I heard all three laugh softly behind me and I thought, aha! 

Yes, I got a lot of looks but that is not the point. The point is that I allowed myself to be a little brave or a little foolish, call it what you will, and had a blast! 

Have a blast!


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