Tag: Kente


Pop-Art Kingmaker: Introducing Dennis Owusu-Ansah

Over the past few years we’ve seen an explosion of African print and culture in the mainstream. From the epidemic of ‘Angelina’ dashikis to the notorious need-to-see-to-believe ‘Ghana-Must-Go’ bags going for thousands of pounds and being billed as ‘high fashion’, you don’t need to go far nowadays to catch an essence of Africa. Even so, 2despite seeing a hint of kente here and some semblance of an adinkra sign there, it was easy to find aspects of African culture appropriated and you didn’t see much evidence of those who are considered royalty in western black culture catch onto the African trend.

 

So when a portrait painting of Nicki Minaj dressed completely in beautiful traditional kente and rechristened ‘Nicki Maame Akua Amponsah’ began to filter across our timelines and bleed down our social media profiles, many sat up and took notice. The painting went viral, and more pieces of art depicting the biggest and best stars of our age adorned in African garments were gradually unearthed. On searching for the artist responsible, all roads led to the New York Bronx.

 

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Dennis Owusu Ansah

For there resides Dennis Owusu-Ansah – a 26 year old New Yorker visual artist of Ghanaian descent who is a producer of pop art highlighting the beauty of African culture using popular personalities as his muses. His work has seen a burst in popularity and intrigue. However, superimposed upon his work’s viral nature is a serious motivation to drive aside the misconceptions many have regarding Africa.

In a recent interview with CNN, he notes how an unfortunate incidence of ignorance triggered him to get to work with his paints and use his artistry to challenge perceptions of Africans. “After witnessing my friend get teased by a group of men for wearing a kente cloth on our way to church, I figured something must be done to change the perspective of people who are not familiar with the African culture,” he told CNN. “They had no idea what my friend was wearing. One of the guys shouted ‘that man has a blanket wrapped around his body like it’s winter time.’ I saw this incident as an opportunity to educate people about who we are, and what we stand for through my art.

His ideas fall in line with the much acclaimed T.I.N.A. (This Is New Africa) adage advocated by Ghanaian musician Fuse ODG, who tirelessly pushes the agenda that Africa needs to be depicted in a better, more glorious light than Western society tends to throw upon it. “Africa isn’t only about what the media portrays on television, [but is] a continent rich in history, diversity and traditions” Dennis opines.

 

And what better canvas upon which to depict that richness in culture than the biggest and 1most-celebrated stars of young black culture today. The works of Dennis Owusu-Ansah burst with bright colour, bold statements on a background of elegance and with a foreground of opulence. How can someone fail to be captivated by the sight of Meagan Good wearing an extravagant gele, or rap behemoth Rick Ross adorned in the vestments of a Nigerian chief? How can you not be enamoured with the sight of Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs & Jay-Z, usually spotted in the cleanest of suits and urbanwear, dressed in the finest Nigerian and Ghanaian apparel – depicted as West African royalty.

He even remixes the names of his subjects when he posts their portraits, fully integrating them into the fabric of African culture – so we have had the pleasure of being introduced to characters such as ‘Sean Puffy Nana Antwi Combs’, ‘Meagan Omotola Good’, ‘Chief Shawn Ugonna Jay Z Carter’ & ‘Chris Kofi Sarpong Brown.’

 

Just like Peniel Enchill in January 2015, Dennis Owusu-Ansah is a Ghanaian artist who is taking the world and social media by storm at the turn of a year. “I’ve been getting positive comments from people all over the world,” he told Okayafrica in a recent interview. “It’s good to hear people you’ve never met tell you that your art puts a smile on their faces. Comments like that motivate me to work harder every day.”

5The artistry of Dennis Owusu-Ansah has given those who may not be too familiar with African culture a bridge over which they can cross in order to appreciate the power and the nobility which resides within. How better to showcase the best of African culture by using some of the most recognisable stars around – using those with the biggest social media followings and the biggest fan nations to spark a strong desire to learn more about authentic and genuine African culture. The movement of African awareness now has another member added to its ranks, as Dennis continues on his mission to challenge misconceptions by bringing Africa to the world at large and making Africa accessible through contemporary pop art.

Follow Dennis Owusu-Ansah on his Instagram page @denny_ow for updates and visit his website densahcollection.com to check out his artwork and fashion collection.
By Dr Jermaine Bamfo (@Dr_Jabz27)

Ghana Society UK presents…Kente Festival & Dinner Dance 2015

The Ghana Society UK  is holding its annual  Kente Festival & Dinner Dance this Saturday, 7th November 2015 in London.

This year’s special edition will be the grand finale of their programs towards an unforgettable Black History Season themed ‘Akwaaba to Ghana’, to promote our motherland’s rich cultural heritage and the symbolic Kente cloth. The event will be held at the Porchester Hall, Westbourne Park Road, Bayswater-London, W2 5HS from 7pm to 1am.

Their health initiatives on Breast, Cervical & Prostate Cancer challenges in Ghana will be highlighted during the event as they create awareness and also fundraise towards eradicating the myths surrounding these health problems, as well as championing traditional values that are being forgotten which are integral to our uniqueness as Ghanaians.

The highlight of the evening will include a fashion show, cultural displays, kente giveway and exclusive live performances, including the fantastic Davidson Band, lined up to add a touch of colour and merriment to an unforgettable evening. It’s not too late to purchase tickets so buy your tickets here now!

Asaawa by Josephine hits Oxford Street with Africa Fashion Week London Concession Store

Josephine Frimpong steps out with own brand

With over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, after building a reputation through her popular made to measure service and working with various designers, Head Designer Josephine Frimpong has decided to truly bring her creative ideas to life by launching her very own clothing line. The Asaawa by Josephine brand is a womenswear label that uses luxury hand woven fabrics to create contemporary designs.

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The label has a specific focus on pattern technology that contributes to a bespoke construction of each garment for every customer.  Josephine achieved her degree in Fashion Design and Technology from the London college of Fashion and as a native Ghanaian; she works with luxury kente, a special hand woven fabric from her home country to create garments that encompass Ghana’s colorful and delicate materials with her natural eye for design. The opening of the Africa Fashion Week London’s (AFWL) concession store in the West end Plaza, is a momentous occasion for the fashion industry and especially the African culture.

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Asaawa by Josephine are looking forward to showcasing their designs along with 14 other great designers through an initiative aimed at supporting the high street entrepreneurs of the future. The brand hope to build grow and create a following similar to that of Mefiri Ghana’s, a brand that encompasses the colourful creativity of Ghana with the style and sophistication of the Western world and espescially the Diaspora community. The fashion world is looking forward to seeing more of what Asaawa by Josephine has to offer..

You can follow the Asaawa brand on the following platforms

Twitter: @AsaawaJosephine
Instagram: @AsaawaJosephine
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/asaawabyjosephine
Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_GHANA)

The Africa Centre’s 2nd Summer Festival 2/8/14

London’s Covent Garden to host Textile Themed festival

The Africa Centre is a London-based charity that aims to promote awareness of African cultural and developmental issues in the UK. They will be hosting their second Summer Festival on August 2nd 20141 from 2 noon – 10 pm in the East and West Piazzas of Covent Garden, London WC2E 8RF
This year the theme of the event is the “African Textile Experience”
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The centrepiece of the festival will be an inspiring programme, curated by Magie Relph of the African Fabric Shop and advised by Chris Spring, Curator of the African Collection at the British Museum, showcasing the rich tapestry of African textiles in all their beauty and diversity which will engage, inspire and fascinate you. Learn how to make your own Africa-inspired textiles at our craft workshops or take home a memento from our African craft stalls in Covent Garden’s Piazza.

The day will give attendees an opportunity to see, touch, hear and taste the best that contemporary Africa has to offer. You will also be able to feel the energy of Africa through vibrant dance and acrobatic performances. Have fun for all the family with African face and mask painting. Move to the beat of Africa with live music, drummers and DJs. Savour the flavour of Africa with authentic cuisine.

So why not go along and take part in celebrating the vibrancy, creativity and sheer joy of contemporary fabrics from all over Africa, including Kente, of course.

For more information please visit the website – africacentre.org.uk

A Poem by Adwoa Asiedu….

Celebrating The Kente Cloth of Ghana- The Happy Nation

 

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Ordinary isn’t the word.

Representing a rich culture, we are devoted to the motherland.

Oh the beauty of the silk and the cotton fabric, the vibrant colours and the geometric shapes!

They all scream out originality and ooze an air of dignity and grace.

Welcome to my world, yeah you can call us patriotic.

As we are approach the world cup,this is a time to unite!

No more fear, no more feelings of inferiority.

The old has gone! The new has come so let’s wear our Kente with confidence.

A new season I declare. Rejoice oh people of Ghana.

We will be known for being the happy nation.

This will be a legacy which will forever stand.

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Adwoa Asiedu ( @AdwoaAsiedu777)

Check out some of Adwoa’s work on her individual blog–  http://adwoapoems.blogspot.co.uk/ and look out for more posts from her right here on the Me Firi Ghana blog.

Kente ; Ghana’s National Cloth

The History of the Kente

KENTE as we all know is a beautiful and symbolic type of nwentoma (woven cloth) that is entirely hand-woven on a wooden loom, which is operated by the weaver’s hands and feet. Its vibrant colours and symbolic patterns define the Kente cloth.

The word kente is derived from ‘kenten’, which translates to “basket”. It is largely known that the Kente cloth originaly stemmed from the Ashantis (of Bonwire in the outskirts of Kumasi), however today it is being woven not only in the Ashanti region but also in the Volta region by the Ewes. Legend has it that the Kente cloth was first designed by 2 friends mimicking the techniques of a spider they observed weaving its web.

It is believed that the Kente cloth has been around since the 17th century and has been an important part of the Ghanaian culture ever since. In the olden days Kente was exclusively worn by King’s and Queens; TODAY Kente is being worn not only across AFRICA but it is also being increasingly incorporated into western fashion.

Imbedded in each Kente cloth is a story with a proverbial meaning, which makes every design unique! There are about 50 different types of Kente patterns. Here are the meanings for some of the designs;

  • Adwini Asa – (“All motifs are used up”)
  • Abusua Ye Dom – (“The extended family is a force”)
  • Fa Hia Kotwere Agyemang – (“Lean your poverty on Agyemang”)
  • Sika Fre Mogya – (“Money attracts blood relations”)
  • Obi Nkyre Obi Kwan Mu Si – (“Sooner or later one would stay in the path of the other”)
  • Fathia Fata Nkrumah – (“Nkrumah merit Fathia”)
  • Emmada – (Novelty; what we have not seen or heard before”)
  • Oyokoman Na Gya Da Mu – (“Crisis in the Oyoko Nation”)
  • Obaakofo Mmu Man – (“One head does not rule a nation or constitute a council)

 

Colours to design each cloth are chosen carefully for both their symbolic and visual effects;

  • Yellow – is a symbol for things that are holy and precious, royal, fertile and beautiful
  • Pink – symbolises gentle qualities (e.g. calmness)
  • Red – stands for blood and for strong political and spiritual feelings
  • Maroon – associated with the colour of mother Earth; it represents healing and protection from evil
  • Blue – stands for the sky and is used to symbolise holiness, peace, harmony, good fortune and love
  • Green – is associated with plants and stands for growth and good health
  • Gold – symbolises royalty, glory, wealth and spiritual purity
  • White – stands for purity and healing
  • Black – stands for aging because in nature things get darker as they get older; black also stands for strong spiritual energy and the spirits of the ancestors
  • Grey – represents ashes, which are used for spiritual cleansing
  • Silver – is a symbol for the moon and stands for serenity, purity and joy
  • Purple – is associated with Earth and healing; also associated with gentle qualities

Kente became Ghana’s national cloth on the 6th of March 1957- the day Ghana celebrated independence.

Nora Mitersky

Change in Ghana – Fashion

Me Fira Entoma

 

 

 

designs from Burberry SS 2012 collection

My mother has a cupboard full of amazing Ankara fabrics. Her favourites are those with the age-old proverbs and bold old skool prints covered with browns and reds – they transport her back to her youth. The moment I spot anyone wearing a particular type of the fabric (or Kente of course), I immediately know or assume they’re Ghanaian – and it can sometimes hint at the event they’re off to, be it a funeral, wedding, church etc. So for me, at first sight – right or wrong – it’s my familiarity with the shapes, patterns or colour and how it’s worn that will often tell me if it’s Ghana Entoma or not. Everything I’ve learnt about these fabrics I acquired from my mother, and by being immersed in stories on visits to Ghana. Without realising it, I know a lot more than I thought I did about ‘Ghana fashion’, and the recent obsession with African-inspired prints has conjured up everything I unconsciously grasped when growing up.

 

Not so long ago, wearing ‘traditional dress’ below 15 degrees Celsius was usually a mega sign that you were on your way to any of the following: a party, a wedding, a funeral or just

Burberry SS 2012 collection

off the plane back from Ghana… Yet these days the same full-on traditional look would be considered ‘on trend’ and the head wrap gets you bonus points! I’ve seen more ‘traditional dress’ on the streets of London recently than ever before and designers quickly picked up on this by showcasing prints and textures inspired by Africa for the Spring/Summer 2012 collections. Of the shows, my personal favourite was by Burberry. Their use of Ankara-inspired fabrics for wax print skirts, dresses and even accessories were precisely on point and exactly what consumers want to buy right now. Although the collection became a controversial topic, I totally loved everything and it gave me a couple of ideas on what to do with some of my own fabrics! Away from the argument of ‘was it or wasn’t it African fabric’ and ‘can Africans claim ownership of the idea?’, I felt the strongest point was made by Hannah Pool in the Guardian. Her piece encourages us to step away from the generalisations of placing all ‘African prints’ under one umbrella. We ought to do better by identifying the amazing proverbs and traditions spoken through the cloth we all love so much. If there is a name, and connection to a specific country or village we need to make that connection known.

 

Burberry SS 2012 collection

I love it that it’s now deemed super cool when I wear my tulip shorts made from Ankara cloth. When I got it at Ghana Party in the Park about 3 years ago I thought it was fun, not fashion-forward! African-inspired anything is so cool right now that wearing anything hand-dyed or wax print could be a clever move to get your picture on a fashion blog. Africa continues to inspire fashion – growth in the right direction – let’s not deny that, but I personally agree with voices like Hannah Pool in that I would like to do better and take it a step further. Non-Africans or non-Ghanaians should know what’s truly special about our fabrics. The trend goes beyond the ‘African print’ label, learning and sharing the names and tales associated with the cloth is our fashion moving forward. Talking about the eras they come from is our personal connection. That’s what my mother still loves about her fabrics and it’s how she clings to her youth back in Ghana. It’s also what makes Ghana Entoma valuable to me. The fabric and the way we wear it speaks about our culture. Without those stories, it’s just good fabric with a great print.

Adjoa Wiredu

Easter Celebrations…

Kwahu Festival 2012

 

The Kwahu festival  has become very popular on Ghana’s tourism calendar. This special event is always celebrated in line with the death of Christ.

Paragliding at the Kwahu Festival in 2011

The festive occasion has become imprinted in the country’s annual entertainment calendar, and what makes  it so enjoyable and memorable is the entertainment, food, music, dancing and just pure enjoyment during the Easter festive occasion.

Every year the event has received high expectations. On the day of the event  all roads will lead to the eastern region for the easter festivities.

 …And not to forget the vibe and the bubbly people, who make up the actual event as expected, sizzling sun glasses, sun kissed skin, Ntuma, Kente prints and cultural attire. This event goes well especially with Eatser being a big celebration. In Ghana everyone will be looking forward to the Kwahu festival. What I think attracts people to this event is the fact that its suitable for all age groups, fine ladies, older women and even kids, can all unite and parade the streets of Mpraeso and Obomeng whether in cultural attire or even just casual vest and shorts or skirts, during the Kwahu Easter festivities. If your touching down in GH this easter season.. Make sure you show your face down @ Kwahu!! Its going to be a mad ting!

 

By CLOUDIA

Ghanaian Culture: Kente Cloth Growth

 It has graced on your father’s shoulders, and been worn at parties by your mother. Kente has come a long way from just being fit for Ashanti chiefs and other men of supreme status.

Said to have been created in the 17th century by the Ashanti people, Kente cloth is now a strong signifier for Ghana; and more so West Africa.

WEST MEETS WEST

This silk and cotton cloth is now suited for all people. With African prints at its peak in the fashion industry throughout the past couple years; it is not uncommon to see African inspired styles placed before us in shops such as H & M, or magazines such as Grazia. From the weaving looms of villages such as Adanwomase and Bonwire, to the bodies of red carpet fashionistas such as Gwen Stefani and Solange Knowles. Since catching onto the wave of West Africa’s finest cloth, the western world has incorporated the pattern into its own styles. Shorts, mini skits, and even scarves, along with other forms of clothing and accessories have all been styled with a Kente feel to represent a cross culture in fashion.

COLOURFUL CLOTH

For a long time, there has been a misconception that Kente must be gold. Often, Kente is embedded with colours that symbolise different qualities. For example: Blue represents harmony and serenity. Pink connotes femininity, and the more recognised colour gold signals strength and wealth. With the multitude of colours that can be incorporated into Kente, this shows that Kente is a fabric that is extremely versatile and incorporates many meanings.

By Nadia Brobbey