Cynthia is wearing West African Kente cloth, a Ghanian textile made of handwoven cloth. Below, she provides a description of the West African traditional clothing.
Kente is a type of silk and cotton fabric made of interwoven cloth strips and goes back four hundred years to West Africa. The Kente cloth is native to the Akan tribe of Ghana and weaving kente cloth is a cultural tradition of the Ashanti people of Ghana in West Africa. The fabric was originally used exclusively to dress kings and their courts
The Ashanti people who are known for their exceptional artisanship and artistic skills, developed kente as a way of expressing their cultural identity and social status. Kente comes in diverse colours which all have meanings.
“The colour I am wearing represents preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility, and beauty.”
The Kente cloth is special on many levels:
- Around the world, the unique patterns and colours are attributable as a representation of West African culture.
- Kente is exported as one of the key symbols of African heritage and pride in African ancestry throughout the diaspora.
- Kente is more than just a cloth, it is an iconic visual representation of history, philosophy, ethics, oral literature, religious beliefs, social values, and political thought of West Africa.
- The Kente cloth has evolved additional meaning to displaced Africans and their descendants around the world, for whom it symbolizes a unity with their ancestors and the overcoming of struggles throughout the African diaspora.
Cynthia Amponsah-Antwi is a CMB Business Development Manager at HSBC. Explore other stories in our Cultural Spotlight series here.