On March 28th, 2023, Ghanaian musician Black Sherif, whose real name is Mohammed Ismail Sherif, met with US Vice President Kamala Harris during her visit to Ghana. While many praised the young artist for having the opportunity to meet with such a high-ranking official, others criticized him for his shabby dressing.
Black Sherif is a rising star in Ghana’s music industry, known for his socially conscious lyrics that touch on issues such as poverty, inequality, and mental health. His song “Second Sermon” went viral in Ghana and beyond, making him a household name. It’s no surprise, then, that he was selected to meet with Vice President Harris, who is known for her advocacy on issues such as racial justice, gender equality, and access to healthcare.
However, what should have been a celebratory moment for Black Sherif quickly turned sour when photos of him and Vice President Harris surfaced on social media. In the photos, Black Sherif can be seen wearing a tattered t-shirt and a pair of faded jeans, which many saw as disrespectful and unprofessional.
Critics took to social media to express their disappointment, with some calling Black Sherif’s attire an embarrassment to Ghana and Africa as a whole. Others accused him of lacking respect for the Vice President and for failing to dress appropriately for such an important occasion.
The backlash was swift and widespread, with many Ghanaians expressing their disappointment with Black Sherif’s choice of outfit. Some even went as far as to call for a rebranding of the atist, arguing that he had disgraced Ghana on the global stage.
However, others came to Black Sherif’s defense, arguing that his clothing was a reflection of his authentic self and his message as a musician. They pointed out that Black Sherif’s music is all about authenticity, and that he should not be judged based on his clothing. They also argued that his attire was not disrespectful, but rather a reflection of his personal style.
Moreover, it is worth noting that Vice President Harris did not seem to be bothered by Black Sherif’s clothing. In fact, she appeared to be engaged and interested in their conversation, which focused on issues such as youth empowerment and education.
This incident raises important questions about the intersection of culture, identity, and professionalism. While there are certain expectations around how one should dress in formal settings, it is important to recognize that these expectations are often culturally specific. What is considered appropriate attire in one context may not be appropriate in another, and we must be careful not to impose our interests on others.