Textiles in Ghana
Textiles in Ghana

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Textiles in Ghana

4.2 The meaning of kente designs

Activity 13

Once you’ve watched the video, explain, using your own words, what kente designs mean.

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Transcript: What do Kente designs mean?

Catherine (VO)
The Kentehene, the Chief of Bonwire Weavers, is the official guardian of the history and meaning of Kente.
Kentehene
Originally, this was called Obaa Kofo Mmu Man. But as our first president, Kwame Nkrumah married a lady called Fatia, the person who designed it wanted it to be a success, and took it to the elders and they named it - ‘Fatia’ has been added to Nkrumah!
This one is called ‘Abusua Ye Adom’. It means that with your family and relatives around, your family can be a powerful force.
Nana Ashanti
This particular one, it’s proverbial. I mean …….. you have to mention. ‘Proverbial One’. This is called ‘One man does not Govern, Two Heads are better than One’. ‘One person does not go into counsel’. They’re all exactly the same, and some folks simply call it ‘Fatia’, because a design, this design was given in honour to the wife of the President of Ghana, the ….. Fatia, so a lot of people call this one ‘Fatia’, but it has got all the other names, the ‘Two Heads are Better than One’, ‘One Person does not go into counsel’ and so forth, you may call it in the name of democracy. That’s what it means.
But of course, that is the design. The various parties in that design also have names. For example, you see, there are nine squares here, we’ve got nine tufts of hair, when the chief’s go in the durbah there are young girls, they ride in front of the king.
Sometimes they come before the counsel of elders.
This is in ……, you swerve, you wouldn’t swerve if you look at it. …… Go that way and go that way.
Akwasi interview
Q: What meaning does the pattern ‘Adwenisi- Adwenisu’ have?
A: The whole pattern is called ‘Adwenisi- Adwenisu’ but this particular pattern is called ‘Atsem’ (shield). This, ‘Ohwia Tu Dei’ (everyone must die). ‘Atsem’ again. ‘Ohwia Tu Dei’. ‘Nakachene’ (snakes skin). ‘Afafrantu’ (butterfly). And so on, all the way to the end.
Q: So can any skilled weaver use his own combination?
A: Yes, anyone can do that. You just use your imagination.
Q: Why is ‘Adwenisi-Adwenisu’ (design upon design) so-called?
A: Weaving it is more difficult than all other patterns.
Q: Why? A: We use more threads. Whereas other patterns require 2 or 3 strands, this requires 5. CU Osei and shop
Catherine (VO)
Osei Antobre is a leading master weaver and shopkeeper in Bonwire. Master weavers are continually making new designs and naming them, sometimes to commemorate personal events.
Osei Antobre
This is ‘B….’. The name was given by me. I was having a boy, was a doctor, and he died all of a sudden. Then, that means, I have spent a lot on the boy but nothing came from it.
Catherine
What does that motif mean … there?
Osei
That, this is a stool.
Catherine
Why was that, why, why did that represent the boy?
Osei
That maybe he was come to make a chief, to be a chief, but death came to take it, to take him away.
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What do Kente designs mean?
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