The African Cloth Fabric Connecting The Diaspora

frontal view of a kente weaver
Briona Lamback
November 2, 2023

Anansi worked hard in the humid jungle, spinning a new creation. The spider spun a web of the most intricate detail. When two brothers and weavers, Nana Koragu and Nana Ameyaw, spotted it, they couldn’t believe their eyes.

Enchanted by Anansi’s work, they rushed home, bursting with excitement. Legend is that in Bonwire, Ghana, the weaving center of the Ashanti region, Anansi the Spider inspired the brothers to weave differently. 

They studied Anansi’s design, and Kente was born.

Kente cloth features intricate designs using fine threading and bold colors that tie into themes sometimes associated with traditional proverbs. Like the green or blue background design called “Abusua ye dome,” meaning “family is war.”

The colors convey messages, too. Black represents an ancestral connection, rites of passage, or mourning. Red expresses political and spiritual moods, often involving deep sentiments or profound moments.

It was initially worn by Ghanaian royalty during rituals, which may be why many of us have gravitated toward it. It’s become a beacon of Blackness across the diaspora, particularly during the 1960s Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Today, we wear Kente at celebrations like weddings and graduations.

Kente is one commonality keeping the diaspora woven together. From food to clothing, these seemingly simple connections are windows into a larger thread of realizing the power in our unity. Nothing can unravel us.

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