Explore and Understand Africa Through Her Food and Culture

He who wants to plant corn must make peace with the crows. -African Proverb

Thursday, October 27, 2016

What is Kente Cloth?

Kente cloth ("Ken-Tay") is one of the most famous African textile designs. Kente is a colorful Ghanaian traditional fabric that is worn mostly on important occasions and celebrations.


Chief wearing kente cloth in Ghana West Africa
Chief wearing kente cloth in Ghana West Africa
African culture, particularly in the areas of dance, music and the fine arts has influenced cultures around the world for two millennia. African people are creative having a long history of unique cultural elegance valued around the world over.  The making and trading of cloth have been vital elements in African culture. The first colorful kente cloth was worn by Otumfuo Nana Prempeh I, a former Ashanti king.

Through cloth, we can understand not only Africa’s history but also its engagement with other parts of the world. Textiles can be used to address global issues and to express individual traditions of Africa. African textiles unspoken language often provides a way of suggesting thoughts and feelings that may not or cannot be expressed in other ways, and these cloths regularly move between the kingdoms of the earthly and the revered.

The Ashanti people of Ghana and the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo make the African cloth kente. Kente cloth is the most recognizable of all African textiles. Kente cloth originated with the Ashanti people of Ghana dating back 375 years in the village of Bonwire.

Weaving kente cloth in Bonwire Africa
Weaving kente cloth in Bonwire Africa
Bonwire is a kente clothing weaving village in Ejisu-Juaben Municipal district, a district of Ashanti. To this day, Bonwire is still the most famous center for kente cloth weaving.

According to legend, Kurugu and Ameyaw, two brothers from the village, went hunting one afternoon and came across a spider spinning a web. They were amazed by the beauty of the web and thought that they could create something like it. Upon returning home, they made the first cloth out of black and white fibers from a raffia tree. A second legend of the origins of kente cloth told by Bonwire villagers is the story of a man named Ota Karaban and friend, Kwaku from Bonwire had their weaving lessons from a spider that was weaving its web. They tried to do same by weaving a beautiful raffia fabric.
Bonwire Kente Weaving Village
Bonwire Kente Weaving Village

Traditional Kente Cloth was black and white however the colors of black, red, yellow and green symbolize:
·        Black represents Africa
·        Red represents the blood of ancestors
·        Yellow represents wealth of gold

·        Green represents the land

Share this page

Trending Now

Did you know?

The eye never forgets what the heart has seen - African Proverb