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In that serpentine corner of the Volta Region where the boundary line separating Togo from Ghana becomes indiscernible, even to the trained eye, nestles the home of Kente; a place where the cultural identity of Ghana is celebrated as a festival. In this breathtakingly serene border community, the dramatic shuttles fly through the warp with rhythmic sounds as the master weaver deftly crafts Ghana’s identity: its an identity that showcases who we are, our values, what we stand for and what unite us as one people.
There may be older festivals but none serves as the melting pot of Ghana’s global icon. In fact, conscious of the creeping awareness of the interaction of global, national and local forces, it became important in 1995 to institutionalize the Kente festival as an annual event by the people of Agotime to promote and preserve the uniqueness of the Kente cloth and its associated technology and creativity.
Kente is a timeless African heritage. It gives us a sense of nationalism and pride as Africans. In the eyes of the world, Kente is regarded as the best hand-woven textile and it is often a first-choice gift to any important visitor to Ghana because apart from its beauty, the patterns and designs have deeper philosophical underpinnings. The threads, different in size, colour and shape, stick together as one beautiful piece to resonate with our identity – first as Ghanaians and next, Africans.
The creativity and technology behind Kente is the best kept secret of Ghana, but it is time, once again, to put it in the limelight to let the world know what we have to offer. The 22nd edition of the Kente festival starts from the 15th of October with the Grand Durbar slated for Saturday, 21st October at Kpetoe. It promises to be the point where the past meets the present as we project into the future with hope.
It is an opportunity for tourists, researchers and all Ghanaians to find out the things that unite than divide us. At the Kente festival, as the chief warlords show their skills and passion in the palanquin dance, the young master weaver who is like a software engineer silently rides unto the durbar ground in his airborne loom to make a case for his sublime Kente designs, each with its own story to tell.
Kente designs integrate what colonialism sought to differentiate. Differentiation is always treated as a natural ally of colonialism along border communities. However, we believe we can take advantage of globalization, the current variant of colonialism, create a bonding and bridging capital, and network our people for the greater good of society. It is within this prism that the 37 towns and villages of Agotime, across Ghana and Togo, beckon the rest of the world to the 2017 Kente festival.
Indeed, festival celebrations in Ghana have assumed a fascinating mixture of a modernist discourse about tourism with a quasi-traditionalist reflection on socio-economic development. Our cultural practices have been shaped by modernity though the resilience of older ways of doing things still persists. Key activities within the one-week of celebrating the Ghanaian identity include: a health screening and a clean-up exercise, celebration of women and children, Kente weaving competition, re-enactment of the migration journey of the Agotimes with Kente treasures, maidens riverside demonstration of the Ghanaian hospitality, celebration of heroes and heroines and the Grand Durbar. In the course of these activities, over 500 designs and pieces of old and new Kente will be showcased. In fact, the dress code to any of these events is anything made from Kente.
Culture has become tradable in recent times and we believe the least we can do is to trade culture to preserve culture. This year’s edition of the festival aims to project the Kente’s cultural contribution to Ghana’s identity beyond that of any commonplace fabric in the world. Therefore, in the context of creativity and preservation of this ancestral heirloom, proceeds from the festival will be channeled into the Kente Village Project, which is currently under construction. This project, apart from preserving the Kente treasure, will also serve as the honeypot for the tourism industry in Ghana. In fact, it will serve as a one-stop shop for anything about Kente to any visitor from Ghana and around the world.
Agotime Kente Festival 2017 Schedule of Activities
|Sunday||15th Oct. 2017||8:00am||Inter-denominational Church Service|
|Monday||16th Oct. 2017||2:00pm||Traditional Prayers|
|Tuesday||17th Oct. 2017||· 9:30am
|(i) Health Walk and Clean Up Exercise
(ii) Quiz Competition for all J.H.S. to be held in Kpetoe
(iii) Football Gala @ Selected Centers
|Wednesday||18th Oct. 2017||· 10:00am
|(i) Women and Children’s Day- Mini Durbar
(ii) Kente Weaving Competition (Speed & Design
|Thursday||19th Oct. 2017||· 6:00am
(ii) “Asiale Torme”
(iii) “Borborbor Night”
|Friday||20th Oct. 2017||· 9:30am
|(i) Firing of musketry (Heroes & Heroines Day)
(ii) Miss Kente 2017 Beauty Pageant
(iii) Citizens Night
|Saturday||21st Oct. 2017||· 8:00am
|(i) Procession to Grand Durbar
(ii) Grand Durbar of Chiefs and People
|Sunday||22nd Oct. 2017||· 8:00am||Thanks Giving Church Service|
Launching this year’s festival in Accra and Connecticut, USA, under the theme “Attitudinal change: the panacea for our future development,” Dr. Idi Ziblim (Deputy Minister of Tourism), Hon. William Kweku Adu (Deputy Minister of Energy) and Hon. Olivia Opoku Adomah all agreed on one thing: we need to recognize how our festivals support tourism, create jobs, and develop the creative and hospitality industries. Indeed, the Kente festival must be celebrated as national festival.
Who joins the festival train from all corners of the world through Ho to Agotime? All lovers of cultural tourism, researchers, African-Americans and Ghanaians who seek adventure, appreciate Kente as the icon of identification of the African and seek undiluted indigenous culture are welcome. In the third week of October Agotime connects Ghana to the rest of the world through Kente.
By George-Grandy Hallow (PhD)