Growing up, every child dreaded the sound of two pieces of metal making a specific rhythmic sound announcing the presence of masked individuals in very colorful clothing, moving from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, household to household, shop to shop and begging for alms during festive occasions like Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year and Easter. We called these individuals “Ankos” and most of us would run and hide for fear of being caught by these Ankos. When children were being naughty at home, a common threat that they would be picked up by Ankos caused instant obedience and discipline. Members of ANKOS were perceived to be wayward, dropouts etc. This however is no more the status and reputation of Ankos which is now a huge masquerading carnival in the West. The first Ankos club was formed in the sixties.
Formerly, Ankos which is the name of the first fancy group is now known as Bench fancy club. Just as Pampers has become the household name for all kinds of diapers. Then came other fancy groups like Holy fancy club ,Sunnato, Supreme, Tumus etc. It was just for entertainment purposes then. More abs more people from different walks of life joined, with brass band music playing mostly Christian and popular songs to just feel thankful for another year.
It then became an annual event where these clubs would sew new and different designed uniforms to impress the public. The costumes are quite uniform, but those of each group differ in the details. Many many layers of thin brightly colors fabric and ricrac are sewn loosely to a base, building up dense patterns and textures. They also challenge other fancy clubs with their marching and dancing skills. The dance moves are tight, with a lot of high stepping and fancy interesting footwork. On the day of the event the clubs move through the streets celebrating, dancing, and facing off when they cross paths with each other. All kinds of fancy masks are worn, hair dyed, braided with fancy colours etc. As the groups increased in number, an association was formed to regulate the activities of the clubs and sanction those who flouted any of their rules. The rules drive responsible conduct. Now we have the Taadi Fest which started as the Westside Carnival. It is becoming an important aspect of our tourism industry as people from all over the globe travel down to the Twin City just to have a feel of the carnival like the famous Caribbean carnivals.
During the festival, sponsors and other traders display their products and sell to the tourists and the general public. So economically, people do benefit from the carnival. With a club like Sunnato, students have been given gift items for good performance in their academic work, others too have been given employment opportunities for joining the club, some are now masters of their trade. There was a tendency and reputation that all fancy club members were vagabonds or rascals, just because it was mostly the boys from the ‘street’. But now we have members of parliament, lawyers, doctors, police, army officers, businessmen, nurses, etc. I am sure you can tell that I AM SUNNATO . Our core values in Sunnato are discipline and dedication. We have people from all walks of life in SUNNATO. I am a career family woman who proudly represents the traditions of the Western Culture displayed in this fun and exciting gathering of indigenes and visitors. Today in Ankos, we have an all ladies club to promote diversity and inclusion in our society. It is our hope to drive more tourism and responsible networking for education, business and employment through responsible masquerading.
Takoradi has clearly become the Christmas City of Ghana.
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