A viral photo of Ghana's parliament in 1971 showing dignitaries clad in Kente has evoked a sense of national pride from Ghanaians and a conversation around personalities who owned that deep pleasure.
Set in history and proudly attired by honourable men to vividly highlight the people’s culture and identity, Ghana’s Kente, a national asset is intelligently hand-knitted with colourful fabric by weavers.
The unique Ghanaian traditional luxury cloth has made a huge impact on the international fashion industry, past and present. And certainly would in the future.
Recently in history, members of Ghana’s Parliament in 1971 owned the beautiful national cloth.
The viral photo of past honourable members attired in Kente is currently making rounds on social media and Ghanaians are full of praises for their forbears.
Others have suggested that perhaps ‘‘our ‘modern’ honourable members should start wearing more traditional outfits.’’
YEN.com.gh takes you on a ride on ‘‘time's wing chariot’’ to events and moments of colours, national pride and the undercurrent political twist, sometimes blatant advocacy the Kente cloth has been used to convey.
In a more recent history, Mohammad Ali in 1964, former US Presidents Bill Clinton, 1990, and George Bush, 2001 and Barack Obama in 2009 during their state visits to Ghana had a regal feel of what is perhaps the best of West African textiles - Kente - the Oyokoman, the design worn by Ashanti royalty.
At the XXI Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Queensland in Australia in 2018, Ghana’s rich Kente cloth made headlines after the opening ceremony when team Ghana featured in the matchless Kente apparel which left most spectators admiring the team after the event.
Also, popular Ghanaian on-screen personalities rocked exquisite Kente designs from local designers at the 2018 Vodafone Ghana Music Awards with the aim to showcase the rich cultural underpinnings to the world.
The timeless traditional piece transcends fashion; it has become a significant material to protest belligerent narratives and uninformed stereotypes prior to the recent State of the Union Address by US President Trump - Kente was used to identify with Africa as congresswomen and men made a statement of support for African nations after Trump described some African countries as '"shitholes".
26-year-old Ghanaian artiste, Owusu-Ansah blends bright block colors contrasting intricate patterns to create images that have transformed the acclaimed global power celebrities including Drake, Rihanna and Beyonce into powerful African icons in traditional Kente apparels to challenge and dismantle reinforced negative stereotypes about Africa.
His works attempt to address a history of negative systemic stereotypes, toxic narratives and misinformation about products made in Africa - this time about the Kente.
The origin of kente weaving could be traced to the traditions of the ancient West African kingdoms between 300 A.D and 1600 A.D. Some historians are of the view that Kente is a development of various weaving traditions that existed around the 17th century.
Nevertheless, while the Kente cloth may have its origin from around the 11th century of West African weaving traditions, the art of Kente weaving was developed earlier in Africa.
Kente, now Ghana’s national cloth is one indigenous handicraft that has won worldwide recognition. There are many types of Kente each with its own symbolism and name which tells the history, culture and social practice of the weavers of the cloth.
Declared a national cloth on the attainment of independence on 6th march 1957, Kente is used for different purposes and at different functions.
It is important to note that Kente is used not only for its beauty but also for its representational imperative.
The weaver derive names and meaning from moral values, oral literature, philosophical concepts, human behavior, individual achievements, animal life, proverbs and social code of conduct.
A weaver’s choice of a colour may also be influenced by his tradition or a matter of preference.
Gender plays a key role in the selection of colours as women prefer pink, purple, light yellow and light blue while males cherish black, dark blue, dark yellow, orange, red and dark green.
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