This weekend we were fortunate enough to enjoy some time away from Accra and visit Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti Region, which is about a four hour drive north from Accra. At its peak, the Kingdom of Ashanti was bigger than Ghana and stretched all the way to present-day Ivory Coast. Today, the Ashanti Region is the third-biggest region in Ghana and many Ghanaians consider the Ashanti Region to be the mot culturally vibrant region in Ghana. One way in which we were able to see this culture heritage is when we visited the kente workshop.
Kente cloth is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and is a traditional type of cloth for the Akan people. Originally kente cloth was considered to be the “cloth of kings” and was only made for Akan royalty to be worn only in times of extreme importance and ceremonial gatherings. But soon the kente cloth became widespread and has now become an icon of African culture around the world. It is known for its bright colors, multicolored patterns and shapes.
When we got to the workshop there were 12 stations in the room with strings of fabric stretching from one end of the room to the other. All along the walls pieces of cloth with different colors and patterns were hanging from floor to ceiling. One of the workers mentioned that there are different types of cloth, single-weave, double-weave and triple-weave, and each type requires a different process. The triple-weave cloths are more elegant and complex so they require more time. On a typical day a worker can produce one strip (5 ft by 6 in) of triple-weave cloth. A good size kente cloth usually has around 8-10 strips in it.