‘And we shall go with our sheep and with our cattle.’ Ring any bells? Charlton Heston? The Ten Commandments. It’s a well-known classic. Just like the iconic Ghana Must Go bag.
Ghana Must Go was a popular name given to the migration of illegal migrant, mostly Ghanaians, from Nigeria following a presidential executive order in 1983. The then President of Nigeria, Shehu Shagari issued an executive order mandating immigrants without proper immigration documents to leave the country or face punitive sanctions. What followed was an exodus of a million Ghanaians from Nigeria to Ghana. With all that they had, they fitted into the bags that would later be known as the Ghana Must Go bag.
The Ghana Must Go bag is a chequered and woven nylon zipped tote bag which comes in different colour variations. Over the years the bag has become somewhat of a staple functional choice for many Ghanaians. Almost, every household has one in one way or the other. And while it’s been mostly used for storage there’ve been other uses that have come up along the years. Innovation- always the mother of necessity, right?
Here are ten iconic things Ghanaians use Ghana Must Go bags for.
1. School Provisions
If you went to a secondary boarding school in Ghana you already know how essential provision are. I’m sorry whether you ate dining hall chow at Achimota or Christian High school please, you still needed provisions. Ghana Must Go is the most essential bag for the Ghanaian high-schooler.
Remember pre-denomination when you needed bundles upon bundles of notes just to have GHS100? Too far down memory lane? Well, back then, Ghana Must Go bags were the best choice for moving bulk sums of cash. And even now in our digitised age some Ghanaians, especially our favourite fabric-traders in Makola, would rather use Ghana Must Go bags to keep their monies.
Speaking of fabric traders is enough of a segue into one of the most Ghanaian uses of the Ghana Must Go bag. A culture rich with a love for woven and wax prints for every and all occasions, Ghana Must Go bag remains the most utilized means of storing fabrics.
4. Books (and Handouts!)
Thank God the years of university course books and printed course handouts are behind some of us. However, the memory of storing stacks of Political Science books and Communication Skills handouts in Ghana Must Go bags in our four-in-a-room hostels stay are in our hearts.
Remember those classic Ghanaian movies where the bewitched man throws out his God-fearing wife and kids for the ‘other-woman’? And then it almost always ends with him going back to beg his wife after the enchantment is broken? That scene always had to have the wife carrying her clothes, which magically or rather conveniently fit in one Ghana Must Go bag. And as art imitates life, these bags remain a popular Ghanaian choice for storing clothes and bags.
Ghanaian mothers have this thing where they inscribe their names on silverware utensils and bequeath them to their daughters. Cupboards are all well and good but Ghana Must Go bags are some of the most used means of hauling utensils from one place to another.
Not all of us can afford that celebrity footwear closet a la Vogue’s 73 Questions and so we make do with the resources we got. Ghana Must Go bags is that dependable bag for all your footwear. You got a party with the girls tomorrow? Rummage in that Ghana Must Go bag. How about something sporty up Aburi’s road this Saturday morning? Rummage in your Ghana Must Go bag.
8. Haute Couture
Going beyond the bounds has always been a reflection of high fashion, and Ghanaian and West African designers are no excuse. In recent years a fashion renaissance of sorts has been sprawling and a lot of native fashion designers are being inventive with their fabrics choices, thread seaming and designs. And the iconic print for Ghana Must Go bags have not been left out. While popular Western clothing stores like Topshop and Urban Outfitters, now sell these bags in their stores, high-end designers like Louis Vuitton have also added the Ghana Must Go bag aesthetic to their recent collection. Needless, to say the reclamation of something untapped such as the Ghana Must Go bag is a celebration of Ghana in a way that appeals to generations.