I don’t intend to sound tribally prejudiced, but I can say vehemently that Kente, which originates from Ashanti Kingdom, is Ghana’s most revered cotton and silk cultural fabric.
Fondly won by Ashantis, other sects in the Akan ethnic group and other non-Akan ethnic groups, Kente is the cultural as well as the ex officio fabric won by Ashanti kings for both national and international events.
The Ashanti kingdom is the most authoritative monarchy in Ghana’s history from ancient days till date. Not only do the kings wear Kente but the Queen mothers of Ashanti wear Kente too. The Queen Mothers put it on in a style known as “baasankye” with a hair style known as “dansinkran.”
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Observing the Ghanaian scene over the last decade, Kente which is warmly appreciated and has a high commercial value when manually woven with the hands (as it has been done from ancient days till now), is gradually losing its commercial value through the importation of other ‘adulterated’ forms of Kente popularly called “China Kente.”
This adulterated Kente fabrics are imported into the country from China by some Ghanaian and foreign fabric investors. They go to China with samples of the original Kente, allow the fabric designers or textiles companies there to copy our original Adinkra symbols/designs in the Kente and print huge quantities. The final result is “China Kente” imported back to Ghana.
The most crestfallen part of this development is that, the very descents of Ashanti, I mean “Asantefoɔ” who should despise these tawdry Kente, are the very people who patronize them; thereby putting money into the pockets of the uncultured and unscrupulous Ghanaian fabric importer as well as grow the textile industry in China at the expense of ours.
The customs officers who are aware of the importation of these “China Kente” also take ‘kick backs’ and allow them into the country. Asantehene Otumfour Osei Tutu II, the government of Ghana, the Ministry of Chieftaincy, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts respectively; are all aware of these imported “China Kente” but are all watching on unconcerned.
At the end of the day, we’re all helping in devaluing our sovereign Kente as well as killing our local textile industries. The original Bonwire Kente is an intellectual property for Ghana so we must patent it. A non-Ghanaian, the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Donald Teitelbaum once advised the nation.
I quote: “Ghana must patent Kente now. Kente is considered a symbol of pride in Ghana but its losing value abroad as a result of its piracy.” He further added that, there’s the need for Ghana to attach its name to the Kente brand.
I pay my humble obeisance to Asantehene, Otumfo Osei Tutu and his Elders and ask; “Otumfo are you not aware Kente is losing its value because of “China Kente?” Otumfour are you not aware of this development? Otumfour can’t you do something? So sad Kente is losing its value!
I will not be surprised if after 20 years time, people treat Kente like rags they use to wipe dirt. Folks, I’m really sad. Make you also say some. Until then…..MOTWUM!!
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