|“KENTE” is a brilliantly colourful fabric, entirely hand-woven by Ghanaian weavers. The brilliant colours and intricate designs associated with Kente have definitely made this fabric the best known of all Ghanaian, and perhaps even all West African textiles. Every design has a story with a proverbial meaning, giving each cloth its own distinction.
Textile manufacturing in Ghana is an industry consisting of ginneries and textile mills producing batik, wax cloth, fancy printed cloth and Kente cloth. Firms have located in Ghana to serve local and regional markets with printed African patterned fabrics. The industry has shown signs of significant growth in recent years, promoting high-quality traditionally designed fabrics as “Made in Ghana” to niche markets, especially the US.
Ghanaian textile companies prefer to locate within designated industrial areas to take advantage of Ghana’s free zone regime and stable operating environment. Today, Ghana’s textiles industry include vertically integrated mills, horizontal weaving factories and the traditional textile manufacturing firms involved in spinning, hand-weaving and fabric-processing.
Ghana Textile exports include:
The dry, savannah climate in the northern regions of the country is ideal for the cultivation of cotton, which is the primary material used by mills, weavers, batik, and tie-dye manufacturers in Ghana.
The industry is supported by National Vocational Training Institutes throughout the country. These institutes provide basic practical and theoretical training in tailoring and dressmaking. There are also a growing number of private fashion design institutes and internationally acclaimed designers that teach latest techniques to aspiring textile designers.
The government has initiated various policies aimed at restructuring and improving the textiles industry. The objectives include
More about Kente
Kente, known as nwentom in Akan, is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is native to the Akan ethnic group of South Ghana. Kente is made in Akan lands such as Ashanti Kingdom, (Bonwire, Adanwomase, Sakora Wonoo, Ntonso in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti Region) and by Akans in Ivory Coast. It is also worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Akans. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Akan dialect Asante. Akans refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth. It is an Akan royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings.
Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with Akans. The Ewe people especially those from Agortime-Kpetoe of Ghana also claim that, Kente which they also refer to as Agbamevor has always been their traditional cloth. According to their history, weaving was the skill they came with when they migrated from Egypt through Nigeria to their present location in Ghana. Per the oral history of the people, during the Ashante wars they captured some of their men who were skilled in the weaving of Agbamevor.
These captured men were asked by their captors (Ashantes) to teach them how to weave Agbamevor; the Ewe kente experts instruct them to “Ke” meaning spread or open in the Ewe language, pass the waft through, and “Te” meaning tighten or press also in Ewe. For that reason, the Ewes believe that the name Kete originates from the method used to weave such cloths which is also the same name that has been corrupted into kente, as time goes on.
Uses Of Kente
Men wear the cloth in much the same way as the ‘Toga’ was worn by the ancient Greeks, and it would seem that these ancient people must have been in contact centuries ago.
The patterns are so intricate that the artist, amid a welter of balls of cotton thread of every colour, must sometimes snip off tiny bits to be applied over a width of about 1 centimeter, or even one milimetre, while carefully counting the wool threads.
The History Of Ghanaian Kente
One story about Kente says that two friends learned to weave by observing a spider weave its web. They wove in imitation of the spider, using raffia fibers to create a strip of fabric.
Kente Colours And Their Meanings