Strip weaving has exited in West Africa since the 11 th century. In 1697, the Asantehene, the King of the Ashanti people, selected four towns including Adanwomase to travel to Bontuku, a trading centre in northern Cote D’Ivoire, to study the art form.
Once they returned, these apprentices began weaving for Asantehene. Over time, they created their own styles and designs, giving birth to the cloth that today is known as Ashanti Kente. Since that time Adanwomase has been a royal weaving enclave for the Asantehene, and home to the MFUFUTOMAHENE, the chief responsible for weaving traditional black and white kente Cloth for Asante royalty. The Chief is responsible for keeping the Sesia, a basket containing all the historical samples of Kente woven in Adanwomase. Kente Weaving is a complex art, and the unique and beautiful cloths are powerful cultural symbols and a source of pride for Ghanaians and African Diaspora. The cloth is worn and used by royals during ceremonies, and for worship, outdoorings, marriages and funerals. Kente designs chronicle local history and knowledge. Designs have specific names and meanings that reflect cultural values and historical events. To this day, Adanwomase carries on the centuries – old Kente tradition.
has its origin with the Ashanti Kingdom, and was adopted by people in Ghana and many other West African counties. It is an Ashanti royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem with Akans.
Kente is predominantly made by the Ashanti people (Bonwire,Adanwomase,Wonoo in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti Region) and Akans (including the Brong, Ahafo and Fante). Kente is also produced by Akan groups in Ivory Coast, such as the Baoule and Anyi. Lastly, Kente is worn by many other groups who have been influenced by Akans. It is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in Asante. Ashantis refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth. The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, Asante kente is identified by its dazzling, multicolored patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes, and bold designs. Kente characterized by weft designs woven into every available block of plain weave is called adweneasa. The Asante people choose kente cloths as much for their names as their colors and patterns. Although the cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the lengthwise (warp) threads, there is often little correlation between appearance and name. Names are derived from several sources, including proverbs, historical events, important chiefs, queen mothers, and plants.
The Maroon people of Suriname in South America are the descendants of people who were brought from Africa as slaves after the mid-1600s and who escaped to live in the forests of the interior, eventually obtaining the right of self-government from the colonial powers. The Pangi cloth made by the Maroons is a cotton fabric with multi-colored vertical and horizontal stripes, similar to West African kente cloth.
There is an art to wearing kente. To wear kente properly, it must be worn so that the woven patterned strips are straight horizontally and vertically. In addition, the bottom edge of the cloth should be even all the way around.
Meanings of the colors in Kente cloth:
black—maturation, intensified spiritual energy
blue—peacefulness, harmony and love
green—vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
gold—royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
grey—healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
maroon—the color of mother earth; associated with healing
pink—assoc. with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
purple—assoc. with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
red—political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
silver—serenity, purity, joy; assoc. with the moon
white—purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
yellow—preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility
Kente cloth, a silk and cotton fabric of bright colors and bold patterns, is prized by the Akan kings of Ghana, who wear it only on special occasions. Kente cloth is woven in strips, which are then stitched together to make ceremonial robes. Joining strips of material together is the signature technique used by the West African artist El Anatsui (1944- ) to make his hanging sculptures, such as Old Cloth Series (cover). The components of Old Cloth Series are strips of wood that have been incised with grids, distressed with a chain saw, burned with an acetylene torch, sanded to remove the surface scorching, and then marked with symbols cut and painted into the squares of the grid. In a final step, the wooden strips are aligned so they resemble the folds of a weathered bolt of cloth. The art of El Anatsui is a contemporary take on the traditional forms of African art, and the grids, weathering, symbols, and burning of the sculpture offer a perspective on the role of western Africa in international trade…..Read more on kente history by clicking here.
How did this fabric (Kente) get from Ghana to you?
Kente cloth has history ranging back over 400 years. Legend has it that kente fabric was first made by two friends who went hunting in a forest and found a spider making its web. The friends stood and watched the spider for two days then returned home and implemented what they had seen.
Originally made from white cotton with some indigo patterns, the making of Kente patterns changed radically when in the seventeenth century when Protuguese traders began to bring silk into Africa. The silk fabrics were pulled apart, at first, to use the silk thread in their fabrics until eventually whole skeins of silk thread began to make their way to Africa and the art of Kente took off.
Kente cloth is produced by the Akan people. It is a royal and sacred cloth originally worn only in times of extreme importance. Kente was the cloth of kings. Even today, when a new design is created , it must first be offered to the royal house. If the king declines to take it, it can then be sold to the public. Designs worn by Asante royalty may not be worn by anyone else. Over time, the use of kente fabric became more widespread, however its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem in the Akan family and the entire country of Ghana. Kente may be used as a special gift item during such ceremonies as child naming, graduation, or marriage. It may also be used as a symbol of respect for the departed during funerals and ancestral remembrance ceremonies.
In Ghana, kente cloth is made by the Akan people (including the Asante, Bono, Fante and Nzema). Kente fabric is also produced by Akan groups in Cote d’Ivoire, like the Baoule and Anyin, who trace their ancestry back to Ghana before the rise of the Ashanti Empire. It is the best known of all African textiles. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means “basket”. The very first Kente weavers used raffia, or palm leaf fibers, and wove them into a cloth that looked like a basket. The Asante peoples refer to kente cloth as Nwentoma or “woven cloth”.
The icon of African cultural heritage around the world, Asante kente fabric is identified by its dazzling, multicolored patterns of bright colors, geometric shapes and bold designs. Kente cloth characterized by weft designs woven into every available block of plain weave is called adweneasa. The Asante peoples of Ghana choose kente cloths as much for their names as their colors and patterns. Although the cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the lengthwise threads, there is often little correlation between appearance and name. Names are derived from several sources, including proverbs, historical events, important chiefs, queen mothers, and plants.
HOW TO WEAVE KENTE
The procedures for general kente weaving are based on the following; designing, yarn preparation, warping, raddling, beaming, heddling, reeding, tie-up, and weaving.
Preparation of the yarn for warping
Yarns for kente weaving are purchased on hanks and these are wound onto ‘‘duaduwa’’ literally known as bobbins to the required yarn length by the help of the ‘‘ɛntene nnua’’ also known as warping mill.
Warping of Yarns
Warping is the process whereby many long yarns are put together to form the yarn that run lengthwise in a woven fabric. This is done on a warping mill or warping board. But the most frequent and traditionally used one is the warping mill. The next process will be to build up the warp after securing the figures for the number of warp ends and total number of hanks needed for the warp. According to SOURCES, initially primitive weavers drove pegs into the ground and moved with their warp yarns to and from these pegs till they obtained the total length and number of ends required….MORE
The Ashanti Empire was a pre-colonial West African state that emerged in the 17th century in what is now Ghana. The Ashanti or Asante were an ethnic subgroup of the Akan-speaking people, and were composed of small chiefdoms. The Ashanti established their state around Kumasi in the late 1600s, shortly after their first encounter with Europeans. In some ways the Empire grew out of the wars and dislocations caused by Europeans who sought the famous gold deposits which gave this region its name, the Gold Coast. During this era the Portuguese were the most active Europeans in West Africa. They made Ashanti a significant trading partner, providing wealth and weapons which allowed the small state to grow stronger than its neighbors. Nonetheless when the 18th Century began Ashanti was simply one of Akan-speaking Portuguese trading partners in the region. That situation changed when Osei Tutu, the Asantehene (paramount chief) of Ashanti from 1701 to 1717, and his priest Komfo Anokye, unified the independent chiefdoms into the most powerful political and military state in the coastal region. The Asantehene organized the Asante union, an alliance of Akan-speaking people who were now loyal to his central authority. The Asantehene made Kumasi the capital of the new empire. He also created a constitution, reorganized and centralized the military, and created a new cultural festival, Odwira, which symbolized the new union. Most importantly, he created the Golden Stool, which he argued represented the ancestors of all the Ashanti. Upon that Stool Osei Tutu legitimized his rule and that of the royal dynasty that followed him. Gold was the major product of the Ashanti Empire. Osei Tutu made the gold mines royal possessions. He also made gold dust the circulating currency in the empire. Gold dust was frequently accumulated by Asante citizens, particularly by the evolving wealthy merchant class. However even relatively poor subjects used gold dust as ornamentation on their clothing and other possessions. Larger gold ornaments owned by the royal family and the wealthy were far more valuable. Periodically they were melted down and fashioned into new patterns of display in jewelry and statuary. If the early Ashanti Empire economy depended on the gold trade in the 1700s, by the early 1800s it had become a major exporter of enslaved people. The slave trade was originally focused north with captives going to Mande and Hausa traders who exchanged them for goods from North Africa and indirectly from Europe. By 1800, the trade had shifted to the south as the Ashanti sought to meet the growing demand of the British, Dutch, and French for captives. In exchange, the Ashanti received luxury items and some manufactured goods including most importantly firearms. The consequence of this trade for the Ashanti and their neighbors was horrendous. From 1790 until 1896, the Ashanti Empire was in a perpetual state of war involving expansion or defense of its domain. Most of these wars afforded the opportunity to acquire more slaves for trade. The constant warfare also weakened the Empire against the British who eventually became their main adversary. Between 1823 and 1873, the Ashanti Empire resisted British encroachment on their territory. By 1874, however, British forces successfully invaded the Empire and briefly captured Kumasi. The Ashanti rebelled against British rule and the Empire was again conquered in 1896. After yet another uprising in 1900, the British deposed and exiled the Asantehene and annexed the Empire into their Gold Coast colony in 1902.
Although located in the heart of the forest, Asante dominion was extended by military action and political skill towards the European occupied castles on the coast to the south, and also into the dry savannah lands to the north. This led to various wars with Britain. Kumasi was captured by the British Army in 1873 (as a result of which much of the magnificent Asante gold regalia can be seen in London in the British Museum). After a final uprising in 1901, led by the Queen Mother of Ejisu (Yaa Asantewaa) Asante came into British Protection and finally became a region of the Gold Coast colony.
In 1957, after a period of internal self-government, the Gold Coast became the first African colony to achieve independence under the charismatic leadership of Kwame Nkrumah. Kumasi Getting to the end of the 17th century Anokye Komfuo planted three “KUM” trees at different places. One at Kwaaman ruled by the Nananomayokofuo , a second one at Apemso-Bankofo ruled by Nananomaduanafuo and a third a village near Fomena and Amoafo called Oboani ruled by Nananomekuonafuo.
The Kum tree at Kwaaman flourished and became a very big tree under which the King and his people often sat and so Kwaaman became Kum-ase meaning under Kum.
The tree at Oboani was however very tiny and for no apparent reason was relatively short. According to oral tradition this small tree however produced a couple of other trees which were all small in size. The name of the village was changed to Kuma meaning small KUM.
The Kum tree at Apemso-Bankofo did not grow at all. After some few weeks the leaves got rotten and the tree fell down and so it was said that the Kum tree has died or the Kum tree was dead and so the village became Kum-awu and this later chnaged to become Kumawu.
The Ashanti kingdom, or Asante, dominated much of the present-day state of Ghana during the period between the late 17th and early 20th centuries. It was ruled by an ethnic group called the Akan, which in turn was composed of up to 38 subgroups, such as the Bekiai, Adansi, Juabin, Kokofu, Kumasi, Mampon, Nsuta, Nkuwanta, Dadussi, Daniassi, Ofinsu, and Adjitai.
In the late 1500s, there were at least 30 small states, which corresponded to the subsections of the Akan people. By 1650, these groups had been reduced to nine, and by 1700, they united. Ultimately the groups formed a confederation headed by the chief of the Kunasi group.
The kingdom, formed by its legendary warrior Osei Tutu in 1691, was in fact a confederacy of both Akan and non-Akan people. The king’s symbol was the golden stool; equivalent to the throne, the stool became the symbol of kingship, so that a ruler was said to be enstooled or destooled.
The asantehene, or king, had authority when he was raised three times over the stool. Even after 1901, when Ashanti became a protectorate, and 1957, when it became part of the modern state of Ghana, the stool and the enstooling ceremony of the Asantehene were important ceremonies.
The Ashanti kingdom, although originally a confederacy, had three bases of power—administration, communications, and economics—and was located in what is now north Ghana. Osei Tutu took over the administration set up by Denkiyira, the former hegemon, and added to it.
Communities within 50 miles of the capital city of Kumasi were directly ruled by the asantehene. Under Osei Tutu and his successor, Osei Apoko (whose reign collectively lasted from approximately 1690 to 1750), the state expanded so much that by 1750, it encompassed about 100,000 square miles, with a population of 2 to 3 million.
All of present-day Ghana with the exception of areas directly on the coast with small adjacent areas in the contemporary states of Togo, Ivory Coast, and Burkino Faso were part of the Ashanti state.
In order to accommodate the new extent of the state, the administration divided itself into a metropolitan and a provincial area. The metropolitan area consisted of those towns within a 50-mile radius of Kumasi. The rulers of these towns were made up of the confederacy. Their only obligation was to pay annual tribute to Kumasi and troops in the event of war.
This practice was extended to newer members of the state. All towns elected a governing advisory council composed of powerful members of the community. The towns were considered part of the Kumasi sphere, as they paid taxes that supported a steady army in the early 20th century. After a revolt of a military chieftain in 1748, a palace guard was organized.
The rulers of the metropolitan spheres were members of the royal Oyoko clan and served on the royal council and had autonomy in nonfiscal and military matters. The Council for the Asantehene had gained substantial power; it occasionally destooled an incompetent ruler and formally helped to choose the new asantehene.
Asante Kings (Asantehene)
Nana Osei Tutu (1680 tp 1717), Nana Opoku Ware I (1720-1750) Nana Kusi Obodum (1750-1764) Nana Osei Kwadwo (1764-1777 Nana Osei Kwame (1777-1798) Nana Opoku Fofie (1798-1799) Nana Osei Bonsu (1800-1823) Nana Osei Yaw Akoto (1824-34) Nana Kwaku Dua I (1834 – 67) Nana Kofi Karikari (1867-74) Nana Mensah Bonsu (1874-1883) Nana Kwaku Dua II in 1884 Nana Kwaku Duah II alias Nana Agyeman Prempeh I from 1888 to 1931, Nana Osei Tutu Agyeman Prempeh II from 1931 to 1970 Otumfuo Opoku Ware II from 1970-1999. The Asante kingdom was founded by the great King Osei Tutu in the eighteenth century. His fetish priest was Okomfo Anokye, who unified the Asante states through allegiance to the Golden Stool, which miraculously descended from heaven. Okomfo Anokye planted two trees in the forest and predicted that one tree would live and become the capital of Ashanti. Hence is derived the name Kumasi (the tree lived); the place in which the other tree was planted became Kumawu (the tree died).
The mainspring of the confederation was economic. It had fertile soil, forests, and mineral resources, most notably gold. The future state of Ashanti had two ecological zones. In the southern forest belt there were forests and fertile soil.
Original subsistence crops included yams, onions, and maize and, in the 19th century as farming became commercial, cola nuts and cocoa. In the northern savanna belt, there were yams and Guinea corn. The state was advantageously located for the importation of slaves from both the north and the west.
In this period, beginning in the 15th and 16th centuries and lasting until the 1830s when slavery was abolished, the Ashanti still used slave labor to plant more crops such as plantains, yams, rice, and new crops such as maize and cassava brought from the Americas. This led to an increase in population and a movement of the Akan peoples to the forest zones.
The use of slave labor was involved in its most important mineral product, gold. Akan enterprise utilized the labor of slaves for both trading with Europeans (Portuguese, Dutch, English) and in the state grassland belts first in clearing new land and then for the development of deep-level mining and placer mining.
The slave trade for gold brought more slaves to produce more gold, and slaves were also traded for firearms. The desire to exert control over gold production and the new farming communities in the forest helped facilitate state functions.
The desire to control access to labor pushed the Ashanti state in its attempt to control the coast inhabited by its Fanti peoples. The attempt to conquer the Fanti led to disputes and battles with the British, who had taken over the Gold Coast by 1815.
Earlier the Ashanti had played the Dutch and Portuguese against the British. However hostilities after 1800 erupted for control of its coast. After the Ashanti were able initially to defeat the British in 1807 and in 1824, they suffered setbacks and accepted the Prah River as a border.
Thereafter peace reigned for over 40 years. In 1872, a long-simmering dispute on the control of El Mina (the great Portuguese and Dutch post) saw a renewal of hostilities. After early Ashanti success, the British occupied Kumasi in 1874 until peace was concluded.
In the late 19th century, the state began a rapid decline. Other parts of the state broke away so that by 1900, the state had dwindled to approximately 25,000 square miles and a quarter of a million people. The British began to interfere in events in Ashanti.
In 1896, they deposed the asantehene and in 1900, a British demand for the golden stool resulted in an uprising that was put down in 1901, after which Ashanti was a protectorate. Incredibly, the golden stool was never surrendered and was restored to the nation after being “accidentally” found in 1921. In 1926, the asantehene was restored to the stool, and in 1935, its ceremonial role in Ashanti was formally restored.
During the colonial period, its population increased more than fourfold. The Ashanti peoples engaged in cocoa growing while also actively producing crafts such as weaving, wood carving, ceramics, and pottery making. The bronze and brass artifacts produced by the lostwax process became prominently displayed in museums throughout the globe. Since 1935, the kingdom, now part of Ghana, has been organized into 21 districts.
Throughout its golden age, the Ashanti state demonstrated impressive flexibility, often at the expense of neighbors whom it enslaved and whose tribute it exacted. It continued to increase production in the gold mines and to migrate and clear forest for agricultural production. It utilized the slave trade to increase its military might and diplomacy to key European allies.
After slavery was abolished, it found a new economic outlet in cola nuts, and in the 20th century, the production of cocoa, Ghana’s biggest export. Even in independent Ghana, the Ashanti kingdom still maintains a clear existence and the Ashanti people have retained their cultural identity.
The provincial aspect of administration was subject to increased centralization as the centuries progressed. Outlying Akan districts did not participate in the royal selection process but were forced to pay taxes. By 1800, they were also forced to pay tribute.
They were subject to increasing bureaucratic control such as a state agency that controlled all internal and external trade. The non-Akan areas controlled until the mid-19th century also sent thousands of slaves annually to Kumasi.
The effectiveness of the Ashanti state relied on communication processes. The complex bureaucracy served as a conduit throughout the state. In addition both taxes and tribute were used to establish a well-maintained army throughout the century. Most famously were the talking drums.
Since the national language of Ashanti, called Twi, was polytonal, any military commander or administrator could send out messages by matching syllables to the tones of the drum in a fashion similar to Morse code.
Medieval Ghana (4th – 13th Century): The Republic of Ghana is named after the medieval Ghana Empire of West Africa. The actual name of the Empire was Wagadugu. Ghana was the title of the kings who ruled the kingdom. It was controlled by Sundiata in 1240 AD, and absorbed into the larger Mali Empire. (Mali Empire reached its peak of success under Mansa Musa around 1307.)
Geographically, the old Ghana is 500 miles north of the present Ghana, and occupied the area between Rivers Senegal and Niger.
Some inhabitants of present Ghana had ancestors linked with the medieval Ghana. This can be traced down to the Mande and Voltaic peoeple of Northern Ghana–Mamprussi, Dagomba and the Gonja.
Anecdotal evidence connected the Akans to this great Empire. The evidence lies in names like Danso shared by the Akans of present Ghana and Mandikas of Senegal/Gambia who have strong links with the Empire.
Gold Coast & European Exploration: Before March 1957 Ghana was called the Gold Coast. The Portuguese who came to Ghana in the 15th Century found so much gold between the rivers Ankobra and the Volta that they named the place Mina – meaning Mine. The Gold Coast was later adopted to by the English colonisers. Similarily, the French, equally impressed by the trinkets worn by the coastal people, named The Ivory Coast, Cote d’Ivoire.
In 1482, the Portuguese built a castle in Elmina. Their aim was to trade in gold, ivory and slaves. In 1481 King John II of Portugal sent Diego d’Azambuja to build this castle.
In 1598 the Dutch joined them, and built forts at Komenda and Kormantsil. In 1637 they captured the castle from the Portuguese and that of Axim in 1642 (Fort St Anthony). Other European traders joined in by the mid 18th century. These were the English, Danes and Swedes. The coastline were dotted by forts built by the Dutch, British and the Dane merchants. By the latter part of 19th century the Dutch and the British were the only traders left. And when the Dutch withdrew in 1874, Britain made the Gold Coast a crown colony. By 1901 the Ashanti and the North were made a protectorate.
Britain and the Gold Coast. The first Britons arrived in the early 19th century as traders in Ghana. But with their close relationship with the coastal people especially the Fantes, the Ashantis became their enemies.
Economic and Social Development (Before 1957) 1874–Gold Mine in Wassa and Asante. Between 1946-1950 gold export rose from 6 million pounds to 9 million pounds.
Political Movements and Nationalism in Ghana (1945 – 1957) The educated Ghanaians had always been in the fore-front of constructive movements. Names that come into mind are –Dr Aggrey, George Ferguson, John Mensah Sarbah. Others like king Ghartey IV of Winneba, Otumfuo Osei Agyeman Prempeh I raised the political consciousness of their subjects. However, movements towards political freedom started soon after WWII.
This happened because suddenly people realised the colonisation was a form of oppression, similar to the oppression they have just fought against. The war veterans had become radical. The myth surrounding the whiteman has been broken. The rulers were considered economic cheats, their arogance had become very offensive. They had the ruling class attitude, and some of the young District Commissioner (DC) treated the old chiefs as if they were their subjects. Local pay was bad. No good rural health or education policy. Up to 1950 the Govt Secondary schools in the country were 2, the rest were built by the missionaries.
There was also the rejection of African culture to some extent. Some external forces also contributed to this feeling. African- Americans such as Marcus Garvey and WE Du Bois raised strong Pan-African conscience.
In 1945 a conference was held in Manchester to promote Pan African ideas. This was attended by Nkrumah of Ghana, Azikwe of Nigeria and Wallace Johnson of Sierra Leone. The India and Pakistani independence catalysed this desire.
Sir Alan Burns constitution of 1946 provided new legislative council that was made of the Governor as the President, 6 government officials, 6 nominated members and 18 elected members.
The executive council was not responsible to the legislative council. They were only in advisory capacity, and the governor did not have to take notice.
These forces made Dr J.B. Danquah to form the United Gold Coast Conversion (UGCC) in 1947. Nkrumah was invited to be the General Secretary to this party. Other officers were George Grant (Paa Grant), Akuffo Addo, William Ofori Atta, Obetsebi Lamptey, Ako Agyei, and J Tsiboe. Their aim was Independence for Ghana. They rejected the Burns constitution.
Ghanaian festivals are a colourful and vibrant part of the culture. Each year festivals and durbars are held in various parts of the country to celebrate the heritage of the people.
Throughout the year festivals and durbars are held in various parts of the country for reunion, development purposes and to strengthen beliefs of society.
Most people believe that festivals help them forge close bondage with their ancestors and ask for their protection. Festivals are also held in order to purify the whole state so that people can enter the New Year with confidence and hope.
Importance of Festivals
Festivals are very important in several ways: historically, religiously, socially, economically, culturally, morally and politically in the lives of Ghanaians. See our timetable of festivals below.
Historically It makes the people know more about their history. For instance, the Nyidwoo festival of the people of Esumegya makes the people and for that matter Asantes it know more about their origin.
Also, the Homowo Festival reminds the people of Ga-Adangme to know much about how they have come out of hunger by settling at their present day area. It makes the people recollect the noble past of their ancestors, and to express their gratitude to them.
Religiously The people believe in the existence of the ancestral spirit, hence they ask for forgiveness of offence committed, petition the supernatural powers for material prosperity, peace and long life. There is continuity between the dead and the living.
Socially It serves as reunion of family members, relatives and love ones. At this time, quarrels and misunderstandings are settled. It provides a forum where marriages among people within a particular geographical area can be transacted.
The youth at this stage get the chance of arranging marriages, (to court). Besides, the period is characterised by merrymaking and entertainments.
Economically It brings most of the citizens together. This helps them to initiate development projects and to contribute financially towards these projects. Visitors who also come to witness the festival contribute economically to the locality.
Politically It gives the people chance to asses the efficiency of their chiefs. Most citizens who left the town for so long a time return to see whether the traditional ruler (the chief) had implemented development projects agreed upon.
Homage is paid to the chiefs. Sub-chiefs also renew their allegiance to their immediate boss. For example, local chiefs to paramount chief (Omanhene) and in Asante Omanhene to the Asantehene.
Government ministers even take advantage of the festival which has brought a lot of people (Citizens) together to announce development projects, government policies to the people and to educate them on important issues affecting the locality, town or an area.
Culturally The rich cultural heritage of the people are usually being manifested during festivals.
With the people of Asante chiefs, they may be decorated in the traditional Kente cloth gold ornaments and carried in a palanquin especially the Asantehene or the paramount chief (omanhene).
Ghanaian hospitality can also be seen in this regard. The ways the people speak and relate to others portray their culture of friendliness.
Morally It strengthens all to play their roles as good citizens. It provides a forum where the chief must be more effective, morally upright, and Accountable to the people. For instance, the Apoo festival celebrated by the chiefs and people of Techiman traditional area gives the people chance to talk about the inefficiencies of the chief as well as his ill doings.
It again reminds the youth to lead morally acceptable life so that, they may grow to become good people, whose lives are worthy of emulation by the future generation.
Bugum Festival Although the Bugum Festival was also linked with Islam, it has become a major event on the traditional calendar too. It commemorates the flight of Naiyul-Lah Mohammed from Mecca into exile in Medina in AD658. The festival is celebrated in Dagbon, Gonja, Mamprusi and Nanumba. The events begin with processions from neighbouring villages. By nightfall, all the villagers converge at the Chief’s palace with lighted torches. Following special invocations by the Chief, the ceremony illuminate the streets. Festive drumming and dancing continue until the early hours of the morning.
Edina Buronya Festival This is the native version of Christmas which is exclusively celebrated by the people of Elmina (Edina) on the first Thursday of the New Year. The festival was influenced by the Portuguese settlers who celebrated a similar event every January. For the people of Edina, it is a period of purification, sacrifices to the gods, remembrance of the dead, and the welcoming of a new year. Families pour libations and invite friends to participate in dining, and merry-making, throughout the town.
Rice Festival Is celebrated by the people of Akpafu, in the Volta Region.
Kpini-Kyiu & Tenghana Festivals Is celebrated by the people of Wa & Tongu, in the Upper East Region.
Danso Abaim & Ntoa Fukokuese Festivals Is celebrated by the people of Techimentia & Nkoranza, in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Apafram Festival Is celebrated by the people of Akwamu, in the Eastern Region.
Papa Festival Is celebrated by the people of Kumawu, in the Ashanti Region
Dzawuwu Festival Is celebrated by the people of Dabala, in the Volta Region. It is an Annual traditional and thanksgiving festival of the Agave people.
Damba Festival Originally linked with Islam to mark the birth of Mohammed, the festival has gradually taken on a traditional rather than Islamic tone. The two-day festival is full of pageantry and showmanship and is celebrated in the towns of Dagbon, Gonjaland, Mamprusiland and Nanumbaland.
Ngmayem Festival This is the annual traditional harvest and thanksgiving festival of the Krobo people. It is celebrated in March-April by the people of Manya and Yilo Krobo in the towns of Krobo Odumase and Somanya, in the Eastern Region.
Asikloe Festival Is celebrated by the people of Anfoega, in the Volta Region.
Volo Festival Is celebrated by the people of Akuse, In the Volta Region to commemorate the end of the exodus of the Volo people from Togo, forced to flee the tyranny of an impious ruler.
Lekoyi Festival Is celebrated by the people of Likpe, in the Volta Region.
Kotokyikyi & Ogyapa Festival Is celebrated by the people of Senya Beraku, in the Central Region.
Kurubie Festival Is celebrated by the people of Namase, in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Lalue Kpledo Festival Is celebrated by the people of Prampram, in the Greater Accra Region.
Gologo Festival This festival is celebrated in March by the Talensis of Tong-Zug just before the planting of grain. During the three-day festival, sacrifices are offered to the gods for plentiful rain and good harvest.
Bugum, Serpeemi & Wodomi Festivals Occasions for the people of Krobo, in the Eastern Region to assemble.
Dipo A puberty festival by the people of Krobo (Somanya & Odumase), in the Eastern Region when girls at adolescent age are initiated into womanhood with a parade. The attire of the girls is close to nudity.
Aboakyir (Deer Hunt) Festival “Aboakyir” literally, means “game hunting”. This popular festival is celebrated on the first Saturday of May by the chiefs and people of Winneba. The festival begins with a competitive hunt between 2 traditional warrior groups in a nearby game reserve, where each tries to catch an antelope live. It is an adventurous event to test the strength, bravery, determination and intuition of the 2 rival groups. The winner presents the catch to the Paramount Chief who sits in state with the sub-chiefs and subjects. The antelope is sacrificed as an invocation for good harvest and a bountiful fishing season. A durbar and procession of the chiefs and warrior groups in their colouful regalia is the highlight of the celebrations. Brass bands, dancing, performances of folklore and parties make this an unforgettable event.
Formerly involved capturing a leopard barehanded, the toll on human life eventually became so prohibitive that the divinity to whom the leopard was sacrificed was beseeched to accept a less dangerous substitute, and the leopard was replaced by an antelope.
Beng Festival Is celebrated by the people of Sonyo Kipo, in the Northern Region to honour the great fetish of the Gonja people.
Osudoku Festival Is celebrated by the people of Asutsuare, in the Eastern Region to mark the beginning of the year.
Donkyi Festival Is celebrated by the people of Namase, in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Don Festival Is celebrated by the people of Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region.
Asafua Festival Is celebrated by the people of Sekondi, in the Central Region in purification of the divinity of Asafua.
Ahumkan Festival A celebration in which the local population of Akim-Kibi, in the Eastern Region to reaffirm their loyalty to their chieftains.
Gyenprem Festival Is celebrated by the people of Fafo, in the Volta Region and marked by a durbar of thanksgiving for an abundant harvest and a year of peace.
Ahobaa Festival Is celebrated by the people of Enyan-Kakraba-Saltpond, in the Central Region for obtaining the benediction of the ancestors.
Kete Festival Is celebrated by the people of Sekondi, in the Central Region in honour of the Kete-Kyen fetish.
Ebisa Festival Is celebrated by the people of Sekondi, in the Central Region in honour of the fetish of the same name.
Kli-Adzim Festival Is celebrated by the people of Agbozume, in the Eastern Region in honour of the local divinity.
Ahoba Kuma Festival Is celebrated by the people of Abura, in the Central Region.
Apiba Festival Is celebrated by the people of Senya Beraku, in the Central Region.
Nkyidwo (Monday Night) A very important festival celebrated annually by the people of Essumeja, in the Ashanti Region to commemorate their birth or how their ancestors emerged one Monday night from a hole in the ground followed by a dog and lion amid drumming, dancing and other activities. The gods are invoked for blessing, protection and prosperity of the people.
Bakatue Festival Literally translated to mean “opening up of the Benya Lagoon into the sea”, Bakatue symbolizes the beginning of a fishing season, which is the main livelihood of the people of Elmina. It is celebrated annually in Elmina on the first Tuesday in July and originated centuries ago, long before the arrival of the Europeans. The splendid ceremonies include a durbar of chiefs, a colouful regatta of canoes on the Benya Lagoon and processions. A solemn “net casting” ceremony symbolizes the beginning of a new fishing season, and the catch is offered to the deities of the traditional area. You are invited to take part in the regatta and merry-making.
Bombei Festival Is celebrated by the people of Sekondi, in the Western Region.
Ekyen Kofie Festival (Yam Festival) Is celebrated by the people of Sekondi, in the Western Region.
Kuntum Festival (Yam Festival) Is celebrated by the people of Enyam-Maim, in the Central Region.
Wodomi Festival Is celebrated by the people of Manya Krobo, in the Eastern Region.
Asafotu-Fiam Festival “Asafotufiam” is an annual warrior’s festival celebrated by the people of Ada, in the Greater Accra Region from the last Thursday of July to the first weekend of August. It commemorates the victories of the warriors in battle and those who fell on the battlefield. To re-enact these historic events, the “warrior” dresses in traditional battle dress and stage a mock battle. This is also a time when the young men are introduced to warfare. The festival also ushers in the harvest cycle, for this special customs and ceremonies are performed. These include purification ceremonies. The celebration reaches its climax in a durbar of chiefs, a colouful procession of the Chiefs in palanquins with their retinue. They are accompanied by traditional military groups called “Asafo Companies” amidst drumming, singing and dancing through the streets and on to the durbar grounds. At the durbar, greetings are exchanged between the chiefs, libations are poured and declarations of allegiance made.
Odambea Festival “Odambea” is celebrated on the last Saturday of August by the “Nkusukum” chiefs and people of the Saltpond Traditional Area. This event commemorates the migration of the “Nkusukum” people centuries ago from Techiman (500km away) to their present settlement. “Odambea” means “fortified link”, a name resulting from the role played by the “Nkusukum” people in keeping the migrant groups in touch with each other following their exodus from Techiman. A special feature of the festival is the re-enactment of the ancient life styles of the people, which will provide you with a unique opportunity to learn more about how they migrated.
Ahoba Kese Festival Is celebrated by the people of Abura, in the Central Region.
Edim Kese Festival Is celebrated by the people of Sekondi, in the Western Region.
Equadoto Festival Is celebrated by the people of Ayeldu-Cape-Coast, in the Central Region in honour of their ancestors.
Homowo Festival This is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of the Ga Traditional Area, in the Greater Accra Region. It originated from a period of great famine which was eventually followed by a bumper harvest in grain and fish. Thus, the word “Homowo”, literally means “hooting at hunger”. The main highlight of this month-long festival is the special dish prepared from ground corn, steamed and mixed with palm oil and eaten with palmnut soup. Prayers for a peaceful and prosperous year are offered. Each Ga chief is followed by a retinue with drumming, dancing and singing through his area where he sprinkles some of the special dish called “kpokpoi” and pours libation. It is merry-making for Gas, and visitors in particular are invited home to join in the feasting.
Apatwa Festival Is celebrated by the people of Dixcove, in the Western Region (Lasts almost a month).
Awubia Festival Is celebrated by the people of Awutu, in the Central Region in memory of their dead.
Kundum Festival Kundum is celebrated from August to November by the Western Region’s coastal tribes, the Ahantas and Nzemas. Beginning in August, the festival moves west from Takoradi to town after town at weekly intervals. Rituals include purification of the stools and prayers to the ancestors for a good harvest. Traditional drumming and dancing feature prominently.
Afenorto (Staying At Home) This festival is celebrated annually by the people of Mepe, in the Volta Region to take stock of their lives, strengthen family and friendship bonds and pay homage to their ancestors through pouring of libation and funeral obsequies. It is also the period during which the people take stock of their lives and plan for the future; when young men meet their future spouses and pay homage to their ancestors through libations and undertake development projects.
Fetu Afahye Festival It is celebrated annually on the first Saturday of September by communities in the Cape Coast Traditional Area (Fetu). It is characterized by a durbar of chiefs and processions of “Asafo Companies” (traditional warrior groups) and numerous social organisations. Every member of the group is adorned in rich and colourful clothes, thus creating the grandeur of this festival which literally means “adorning of new clothes”. A procession of the “7 Asafo Companies” in their unique costumes depicts a fusion of the “Fante” and European cultures, (typically, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish and British), which have been sustained over many centuries. Customary rites include the slaughter of a cow to the 77 Deities in the area to obtain their blessings.
Nkronu Festival Is celebrated by the people of Shama/Beposo, in the Western Region. A very colourful festival and it involves purification of stools, prayer to ancestors for good harvest and long life.
Sometutuza Festival Annual colourful festival of the “SOME” people of Agbozume, in the Eastern Region to commemorate the exodus from their original Home (Keta) and subsequent settlement at Agbozume. Activities of the festival include a display (exhibition) of different types of “Ewe Kente” cloth, traditional and woven textile.
Akwambo Festival Is celebrated by the people of Enyam-Maim-Cape Coast, in the Central Region.
Ayerye Festival Is celebrated by the people of Enyam-Maim-Cape Coast, in the Central Region.
Akyempem Festival Is celebrated by the people of Agona, in the Ashanti Region. Odwira Festival This festival is celebrated in most Akwapim towns during the months of September and October, with the most colourful festivities taking place at Akropong, Amanokrom and Aburi, in the Eastern Region. During “Odwira”, the Chiefs sit in state and receive homage from the people.
The ceremonies include purification of the stools and performance of traditional rites. Libations are poured to the gods for prosperity and the general well-being of the people during the ensuing year. Drumming and dancing accompany the celebration.
Kobine Festival This post-harvest festival gives thanks to the gods for a bountiful harvest. It is normally celebrated in the month of September by the Dagaaba people in the Upper West Region. The 3-day festival culminates in feasting and dancing.
Ohumkyire Festival Is celebrated by the people of Kibi, in the Eastern Region.
Fao Festival a harvest festival by the inhabitants in honour of their gods ? Paga, Upper East Region
Agumatsa Waterfalls Festival This festival is celebrated in November by the people of the Wli Traditional Area, in the Volta Region. They give thanks to God for giving them the Wli Waterfalls, since its waters are used for practically all domestic purposes. There is dancing during the durbar, which usually starts at mid-day and officially ends around 5:00pm.
Hogbetsotso Festival The “Anlo Ewes”, an ethnic group on the eastern cost (Volta Region) of Ghana, are believed to have settled in Notsie in Togo when they first migrated from Southern Sudan. Legend has it that they escaped from the tyrannical ruler of Notsie, Ago-Koli, by walking backwards. In order to commemorate the exodus and the bravery of their traditional rulers who led them on the journey, the people created this annual “Festival of the Exodus”. There are many ceremonies associated with the festival, including a peace-making period where all outstanding problems are supposed to be resolved. This is a purification ceremony of the traditional stool and a period of general cleaning when the villages are swept and rubbish burnt. This cleaning ceremony begins at the Volta Estuary and goes on for days until it finally reaches the Mono River in the Republic of Benin. An essential aspect of the festival is a durbar of chiefs and the people. Chiefs dress in very colouful regalia and sit in state to receive homage from their subjects. Dancing, singing and general merry-making go on throughout the festival. The main durbar always take place on the first Saturday of November in Anloga, in the Volta Region.
Kwafie Festival The people of Dormaa Ahenkro, Berekum and Nsuatre, in the Brong Ahafo Region celebrate the “Kwafie Festival” between November and December. This events is celebrated in remembrance of the ancestors and it is also meant as purification. Among the many activities, the most interesting is the burning of a large bonfire in the courtyard. The Dormaas are reputed to have brought fire to Ghana and this legend is symbolically remembered through this bonfire. A durbar is also held during which homage is paid to the Paramount Chief by his sub-chiefs and subjects. It is a period when all descendants of the original Dormaas (who broke away from the Akwamus and migrated here) come home to a grand reunion. Like Apoo, this festival fosters a spirit of unity among the people. Highlights of the activities include a pageant of the royal courts with drumming, dancing and a display of the paraphernalia of the Chiefs.
Apoo Festival “Apoo” is celebrated in Techiman and Wenchi, in the Brong Ahafo Region in November. It is a festival for the purification of the people to rid them of social evil. The festival lasts one week and includes a variety of recreational cultural activity. It ends on the sixth day with the “Apoo” procession, when insinuations are cast about the evil doings of some of the citizens. Even the Chief is not spared. This period is a time for family reunions and unity among the people. You are welcome to join the festivities.
Sasabobirim Festival A week long annual festival of the people of Awuah Domase, in the Brong Ahafo Region. It is celebrated in remembrance of their brave chief who joined Yaa Asantewaa to fight the Europeans in the early part of the 20th century.
Eiok Festival The annual “Fiok Festival” is celebrated by the Builsas of Sandema in December. This is a war festival which re-enacts the ancient heroic exploits of the Builsas. Amid drumming and dancing, the gods are invoked for protection and for a bountiful harvest.
Adae and Akwasidae Festivals The pomp and pageantry of the Ashanti kingdom is most vividly brought to life during beautiful Adae festivals which are held at the palace once every 6 weeks. These are occasions when the King, riding in a palanquin and adorned with all his gold ornaments, comes out to receive the homage of his sub-chiefs and people. It is a spectacular sight to watch the colouful canopies and umbrellas, the skillful drummers, dancers, horn-blowers and praise-singers at these regular festivals, held in honour of their ancestral spirits. Time your visit to coincide with an Akwasidae festival, (Sunday Adae). You can determine the Akwasidae date by counting 6 weeks down the calendar from one Adae.
Ghana pulsates with life. From the bustle of downtown Accra to the atmospheric adobe villages of the north, from the ancient Kingdom of Asante to the mediaeval mosques of Larabnga and Bole, it is a country whose immense cultural diversity both thrills and fascinates visitors, drawing them into a daily rhythm that is uniquely and unmistakenly African. A common feature of all Ghanaian cultures is a love of festivals. Barely a week goes without one or other town or village holding its major annual celebration, while everyday personal events such as funerals, name-giving ceremonies and weddings tend also to be imbued with something of a carnival atmosphere.
The normal starting point for exploring Ghana is the historical capital Accra, one of the safest and most navigable of African cities, and brimming with interest. Accra’s atmospheric older quarters Usshertown and Jamestown are characterized by an architectural cocktail spanning several centuries, spiced with striking landmarks such as the 17th century Osu Castle and Jamestown Lighthouse, the more modern Independence Arch and Nkrumah Mausoleum, and the lively fishing market. Modem Accra is epitomized by Cantonments Road, more widely known as Oxford District, Accra’s hip downtown with bustling shops, handicrafts, fabrics, hotels, restaurants, etc..
Ghana’s second city Kumasi, is the traditional capital for the Asante people, heirs to a centuries-old kingdom that once sprawled from its core in central Ghana into what are nor Cote d’Ivoire, Togo and Burkina Faso. Better known to outsiders as Ashanti, Asante was the last and most enduring of a succession of centralized states that controlled the goldmines of Obuasi, though its wealth and influence was also linked to the ample supply of captives it provided to coastal slave traders. Traditional Ashanti landmarks include a beautiful 300-year old fetish shrine at Besease, the royal kente weaving village of Bonwire, and Manhyia Palace, where the Asante King sits in session every sixth Sunday, heralded by a procession of dignitaries and a fanfare of exuberant drumming and horn blowing that capture the pageantry of Asante’s past.
There is also the coastal Fante Kingdom, Asante’s southern counterpart and traditional rival, centered on Mankerssim and incorporating the ports of Cape Coast, Elmina, Anomabu Saltpond and Winneba, where local fishermen still ply their trade in colourful pirogues, and life is ruled by the whimsical winds and tides of the ancient Atlantic. The north of Ghana, by contrast, has strong cultural links to the sandy Sahel, clearly visible in the local style of dress, a strong Islamic influence dating back to mediaeval times, and the captivating mud architecture of villages such as Paga, Sirigu and Larabanga.
Kente, known as nwentom in Akan, is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips made and native to the Akan ethnic group of Ghana. Kente is made in Akan lands such as the Ashanti Kingdom, including the towns of Bonwire, Adanwomase, Sakora Wonoo, and Ntonso in the Kwabre areas of the Ashanti Region. This fabric is worn by almost every Ghanaian tribe. Kente comes from the word kenten, which means basket in the Asante dialect of Akan. Akans refer to kente as nwentoma, meaning woven cloth. It is an Akan royal and sacred cloth worn only in times of extreme importance and was the cloth of kings. Over time, the use of kente became more widespread. However, its importance has remained and it is held in high esteem by Akans.
Kente cloth varies in complexity. Ahwepan refers to a simple design of warp stripes, created using plain weave and a single pair of heddles. In contrast, adweneasa, which translates to “my skill is exhausted”, is a highly decorated type of kente with weft-based patterns woven into every available block of plain weave. Because of the intricate patterns, adweneasa cloth requires three heddles to weave.
The Akan people choose kente cloths as much for their names as their colors and patterns. Although the cloths are identified primarily by the patterns found in the lengthwise (warp) threads, there is often little correlation between appearance and name. Names are derived from several sources, including proverbs, historical events, important chiefs, queen mothers, and plants. The cloth symbolizes high in value.
West Africa has had a cloth weaving culture for centuries via the stripweave method, but Akan history tells of the cloth being created independent of outsider influence. Kente cloth has its origin from the Akan-Ashanti kingdoms in Ghana. The origin of kente is in the Akan empire of Bonoman. Most Akans migrated out of the area that was Bonoman to create various states. The Ewe people of Ghana claim the weaving of Kente originates with them, although they are not claiming they invented the art of weaving. They suggest that the name is derived from Kete which relates to the two alternating rhythmic actions (ke and te, meaning open and press in the Ewe language) associated with the weaving of the loom. But the main creators are the Bonwire people of Asanteman in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
A variety of kente patterns have been invented, each traditionally associated with a certain concept or set of concepts. For example, the Obaakofoo Mmu Man pattern symbolizes democratic rule; Emaa Da, novel creativity and knowledge from experience; and Sika Fre Mogya, responsibility to share monetary success with one’s relations.
Legend has it that kente was first made by two Akan friends who went hunting in an Asanteman forest and found a spider making its web. The friends stood and watched the spider for two days then returned home and implemented what they had seen.
Modern use of Kente
Kente academic stoles are often used by African Americans as a symbol of ethnic pride. This practice is also very popular with historically black Greek letter fraternities and sororities. African American students hold special ceremonies called “Donning of the Kente” where the stoles are presented to the graduates.
Kente: It is composed of many strips of narrow cloth. The strips are in hand-woven in several parts of Ghana, including Adanwomase. They are together along the selvedges to form a large,square or rectangular cloth that is traditionally worn wrapped around the body. This hand woven cloth often features colorful geometric motifs with specific meanings. […]