I’ve always wanted to learn more about kente cloth – the amazing woven textile from West Africa. This week, I’ve been lucky enough to talk with William (Kodzo) the founder and owner of KenteCloth.net. Please, read on and check out his site. I’m sure you’ll want to bookmark his amazing free coloring book of kente patterns for kids!
DARIA: What started your interest in kente cloth? Is it true you traveled all the way to Ghana to learn more?
KODZO: I’ve always admired how beautiful the cloths looked and the rich history behind it. Each cloth has patterns and the patterns have names and meanings behind them that pass down morals and tell stories. I traveled to the Volta Region of Ghana and actually learned how to weave the kente. I was also able to visit the kente museum there where I saw a wide variety of Kente throughout the history of Ghana. It was interesting to learn that Kente was originally black and white! The meanings of each design is primarily based on the geometric patterns. Color was later added when dying techniques were introduced. It is all very fascinating.
DARIA: What is kentecloth.net - Can people actually buy authentic kente cloth there?
KODZO: KenteCloth.net started of as a site to educate people about Kente. As the site got more and more visitors and there were requests to purchase kente I started selling kente cloth on the site. This was 10 years ago and there is now a dedicated site to purchase the cloths called Sankofa Edition (https://www.SankofaEdition.com).
DARIA: I heard you created a free kente cloth coloring book? Can you tell us about it? Where can teachers or parents get it?
KODZO: Yes, I created a free kente cloth coloring book to help young kids learn about the cloth and apply it to their own lives. The coloring book is based on real authentic kente cloth patterns and the children can make their very own beautiful kente cloths. I’ve had teachers report back that their children loved the activity and the “cloths” were used to decorate the classroom. The printable coloring book can be downloaded at: https://www.kentecloth.net/kente-cloth-printable-coloring-book/
DARIA: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your journey? Why is it important to learn about our ancestors and traditional peoples?
KODZO: In Ghana, there is a proverb/symbol called Sankofa (which sankofaedition.com inspired) and it features a bird looking back with an egg in its beak. The egg in the beak symbolizes the future and the bird flies forward while looking back. This symbol translates to “there is nothing wrong with going back to what you forgot”. A lot of African history may be forgotten however we must remember that African history did not begin with slavery. Africa has a rich and beautiful culture going back to before the times of slavery. The beautiful kente cloth is a great example of beauty and culture in Africa prior to colonization. By looking back and digging deep in our history we can remember the legacy of our ancestors, embrace our past, and look forward to our future potential!
Please visit Kodzo’s site. You’ll learn a lot and maybe even decide to purchase a special item for yourself or someone you love!