Archive for the ‘commerce’ Category

Cedi Beads

One of the best areas for bead shopping in Ghana is the Odumase-Krobo area, a string of villages that stretches from Somanya to Kpong in the Eastern Region.

Cedi Beads isn’t far from the Agomanya market, maybe 20 minutes away.  Even with the help of the beautifully hand-painted sign, the turnoff is easy to miss if you’re not watching carefully.

The grounds were very pretty. Photography is encouraged.

Cedi Beads isn’t mechanized in any way.  This is another local industry that produces traditional crafts without the aid of electricity.

There are several workshops, again open air but covered with tin roofs.

In each area there were three or four people working on one of the beadmaking processes.

After an initial flurry of picture taking of the grounds and buildings right after our arrival, we settled here in the plastic chairs for the beginning of the beadmaking tour.


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Agomanya Market

One of the best areas for bead shopping in Ghana is the Odumase-Krobo area, a string of villages that stretches from Somanya to Kpong in the Eastern Region. The village of Agomanya has a twice-weekly large bead market, a pilgrimage I had to make.

Saturday Sammy drove us to the Agomanya bead market.

From Somanya to Agomanya, just as the Bradt guide said, it was a string of villages with no separation between them. I liked the area very much.

One small portion of the large and busy Agomanya market

The Agomanya market was very busy and animated.

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In Accra’s Makola Market area, we checked out a number of cloth shops. No luck finding any gauze cotton material I was hoping for so I could get a pair of pants made, so after asking at a half dozen shops, I gave up.

Vendor displaying the olive batik cloth that I bought.

A lot of the currently popular wax prints I didn’t care for, either the design or the color, but finally Edna showed me to one area where there were a half dozen cloth sellers that had some batiks and prints I really liked. Prices for 4 yards of a good quality batik was 8 cedis (roughly US$3 a yard). I ended up buying three different batik pieces for Edna to make me tunics.

We then went to Edna’s shop where I picked up the clothing I had given her for repairs and alterations a few days before when she came to the house to take my measurements. She hemmed my wrapper while I waited.  In a few days, when the tunics which she would make with the cloth bought today are finished, she would bring them to the house.

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We returned to the kente weaving workshop where there were maybe a dozen weavers at work. Most of the remaining weavers were in the village at the funeral.

As is typical in most Ghanian villages, there’s no electricity here.

Kente is made in narrow strips about four inches wide and about six feet in length. The strips are stitched together to create a large piece of fabric.

The workshop and the equipment were interesting. I wished I had been there on a day that more weavers were present.

The weavers are generally friendly and willing to be photographed.

The weavers have no back support at their work stations.

Even the feet don’t get to relax. This must be exhausting work.

Patterns can be very simple or very complex. They have meanings. Some patterns are reserved for royalty only.

The weavers are extremely rapid at their work.

You can see what this kind of work does for the arms and shoulders.  This weaver has fastened a flashlight overhead in his work area so he can work after dark.

I’ve just discovered that Adanwomase has a website.  You can find out more about the village and kente cloth here.

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I definitely had kente fever. A few steps away after buying my first cloth, another store beckons.

Oh, wow! My rationalization mechanism was working overtime:  what am I going to do with it? I don’t sew, and I won’t cut it! My advice:  don’t even bother trying to rationalize it. Just buy it if you love it!

A few doors down, some smocks were hanging up for sale and one caught my eye. The price was 30 cedis, half what I paid in Bolga.  I bought it.

In Adanwomase, prices are already at rock bottom, so if you go there know that no one is trying to gouge the tourist. If that isn’t enticement enough, the Adanwomase villagers have signed a pledge, worked out with the Visitor’s Center and a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to their area, that villagers promise not to beg tourists for money or hassle them in any way.  So respectful are they that my presence didn’t attract the usual gaggle of children. I kind of missed that!

Unfortunately, when I get shopping fever the  photography suffers. That’s why I have no photos of the village itself. I was too distracted by all the beautiful kente for sale.

It was so hot. Fortunately there was a shop open that was selling sodas. Cold ones, even! And, oh, yeah, they also had some kente for sale.

I had my golden kente, so I thought I’d treat myself to one more piece in a different color.

There was another shop open on the way back to the visitor’s center where I found a pattern in green and purple that I liked.

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When buying Kente cloth, it’s useful to know that it’s packaged in two ways:  men’s kente and women’s kente.  Men wear kente like a toga, so if you buy a man’s kente cloth, it will be a much larger piece of material, like roughly the size of a bedspread, and correspondingly will be more expensive.  Cost of a man’s kente cloth can be from 300 cedis on up. The price will vary depending on the materials used, number of colors of thread used, and the difficulty of the design.

Women’s kente is about half the cost of a man’s kente because there is less cloth, but it’s sold in three pieces. One piece is wrapped around the body, one is wrapped around the head and the third is the baby wrap, the piece of cloth used to hold a baby on its mother’s back.

I mentioned I just wanted a small piece of cloth. The shop owner said that children sometimes wear kente but he could also sell me just one piece of a woman’s three-piece kente ensemble.  Perfect!

The price for one piece of the three-piece set was 60 cedis.  I felt more than comfortable with the price, which worked out to roughly US$40 for a gorgeous, hand woven piece of Ghana national treasure about the size of an afghan.


Which one to choose?  Oh, that was a problem. Normally I don’t care for orange or gold, but those colors are components of quite a lot of kente designs. Over time, I began to like the kente patterns in orange more and more.   I narrowed it down to two, and finally chose this one.  Then I had a brilliant idea.

I asked the shop owner if I could take his picture with the piece of kente I didn’t buy “so I could regret it for the rest of my life.” He laughed and stretched out the other piece of cloth.

And I do regret it!!!

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Day nine of the Ghana road trip:  searching for the lesser known Kente village.

Nkoranza and Techiman aren’t very far from Kumasi, and Adanwomase, the kente weaving village, is so close to Kumasi that you could almost consider it a suburb.  After our yam shopping spree, it wasn’t even lunch time, so there was more than enough time to see kente weaving before we stopped for the night.

Adanwomase is nowhere near as well known as Bonwire for its kente weaving industry, the largest money making enterprise in the village.  I learned about Adanwomase from the Bradt Guide to Ghana when I was planning my trip.  The village was recommended precisely because it is less well known.  The quality of the kente cloth made here is just as good as Bonwire, but prices are lower and it’s hassle-free for tourists.  Lesser known and hassle free are two phrases which get my attention when it comes to vacation planning.

We finally saw a sign that confirmed we were going in the right direction.

Adanwomase is a small village.  The livelihood of most of the people who live there is connected with the making of kente cloth. I didn’t see any restaurants, and there were not many stores.  You could walk through the whole village in maybe fifteen minutes.

The Adanwomase visitor’s center guide.

The visitor center at Adanwomase is new, having opened earlier this year.  It was only a short distance from the kente weaving workshop.   Our guide normally began the kente tour by taking visitors to the village and going to a yarn shop, so you could see the raw material from which kente is made.   Unfortunately for me, it was a Saturday and most of the villagers along with almost all of the nearly 150 kente weavers were attending a funeral.

We walked back to the main street to see if we could find a yarn shop open, but we didn’t.  Instead, we stopped at one of the few shops which were still open that sold finished pieces of kente.

Now the real dilemma begins:  of all  the gorgeous cloth in the display case, which one do I choose?

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