What is Kente


By Selasi Torkornoo.

Purple, Cream, White and Blue! I am sure you are all wondering, how can these colors come together to form something beautiful? Well then you have not met the treasure that is Kente. This wonder that they call Kente is a cotton fabric made of strips and is native to the Akan ethnic group of Ghana. It’s amazing how the weavers can put together complicated and interesting designs that are best known in textiles all around the world.


The word Kente comes from the word “kenten” which means basket in the Twi language. Legend has it that the first weavers used raffia and wove them into a cloth that looked like a basket. There is another story about Kente that states that two friends saw a spider weave its web and came up with the brilliant Kente fabric. Their leaders were so impressed with what they did that it became the official royal cloth for the Asantes.


Hand-woven cotton yarns are spun into lengths to weave kente. “Kro kro hi hi” is the sound the weavers are said to supposedly make when weaving. A song was made for the process giving nice ring to it and making the weave-making beautiful.


Being a lover of modern African fashion, Kente is a fabric I definitely enjoy wearing. Not just because of its beautiful colors but because it represents different aspects of social, religious and ethical Ghanaian heritage. What is even appealing of kente cloth is the color symbolism. The colors chosen are because of their effect. The color yellow represents things that are holy and precious, pink for tenderness, grey for spiritual cleansing and the color blue for love.

Kente is used mostly for weddings, festivals, graduations and naming ceremonies. It is used at these events because of the value and the worth of the cloth. It can be used to sew beautiful dresses, trousers and the traditional kaba and slit. So the next time you are shopping for cloth to sew that killer outfit for your best friend’s wedding, go buy some kente to give you something beautiful.