Florence Bedford: The woman who has been cooking for Ghana’s MPs since 1993

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Madam Florence Bedford joined Parliament as a staff cook in 1993 – the first Parliament of Ghana’s Fourth Republic – and has served Parliament ever since.

Madam Florence Bedford, 55, who is now the Chief Catering Officer, said she did not expect to be in Parliament this long.

In an exclusive interview with GhanaWeb’s Nimatu Yakubu Atouyese, she explained that she was employed by Parliament at the age of 25 under the leadership of Justice D.F. Annan and now under the leadership of Alban Bagbin.

“I joined Parliament at the age of 25, when we came to Parliament in 1993, the leadership was Owusu J.H Acheampong, Owusu Agyekum and Justice Annan.

“We started serving the MPs when they were very few because the other party was boycotting parliament. But as you can see, there are now over 200 MPs. I served the leadership in 1993 and I enjoyed everything I did,” she said.

“Everyone I served from 1993 to 1996 was friendly and open and we could actually go to them and they would come to us if there was a problem. Most of them also took our advice when there was something wrong, for example, some of them will come out of the chamber angry, then after talking to us, we advise them and they take it easy,” she added.

Auntie Flo, as she is popularly known, recounted how Yaw Osafo Maafo, President Nana Addo and former President John Mahama used to come and have breakfast with her, during which time she would engage them in conversation.

She said the provision of food for MPs was suggested by the former Clerk of Parliament, Samuel Ntim Darkwa, after he noticed that MPs were eating from places around and to reduce the risk of their exposure, he suggested that Parliament should provide breakfast and lunch for MPs.

This was done for some time but changed in 1996 when MPs started demanding money for their meals instead of Parliament providing them.

“…the former clerk of Parliament, Samuel Ntim Darkwa did not want the MPs to eat outside as it was very risky. So initiated that MPs should be provided with breakfast and lunch. But in 1996 the MPs said they did not want parliament providing them with meals and wanted their money, so the cafeteria started selling foods for those who wanted to buy from them,” she told GhanaWeb’s Nimatu Yakubu.

Florence Bedford is married with four children and is expected to retire from her work as a caterer in parliament in five years.

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