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Kente and the Americas

 Kente and the Americas

I dare say that it is the sheer industry and sense of mission of Nana Asante-Frimpong of Wonoo, near Bonwire, that has so much profiled the KENTE as an article of faith in the United States and the rest of the Americas and the Caribbean. Through the trading name of WONOO VENTURES, Nana Asante-Frimpong ventured into the US in the 1970s as an itinerant salesman selling and trading in Kente. Nana found that essential Research and Development base in Dr Kwaku Ofori Ansah and Dr George Kojo Arthur, Ofori Ansah and Kojo Arthur who supported Nana Asante-Frimpong in developing a network of black trading outlets and churches anchored on an outreach programme into schools and community organisations pivoted in the Washington, D. C. metropolitan area and radiating the rainbow colours of the Kente outwards across the US.

US House Representative Leader, Nancy Pelosi and Congressional Black Leaders showing solidarity with George Floyd who was killed by a white Police officer in Minneapolis

Demonstration lectures on the varied use of the Kente were also organized. Both Ofori Ansah and I were part-time lecturers at the Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, where Kente was part of our demonstration tools. But the break came when Black evangelical preachers and pastors took to the Kente as an engaging cultural identification symbol of pride and sense of purpose. At the time, I lived in an apartment on top of the 16th Street Baptist Church and I decked the head pastor in Kente which in turn got the congregation to warm up to the rich colours. Soon the Congressional Black Caucus and the sororities adapted Kente along with the students. Nana Asante-Frimpong arranged regularly scheduled visits to several states in the US and Canada popularising Kente and its aesthetic and utility value. Alongside this Kente outreach was the work of both Ofori Ansah and Kojo Arthur in the artistic definition of ADINKRA symbols and gold weights. Ofori Ansah came out with a wall chart of Adinkra symbols which became a hit. Kojo Arthur followed with his seminal publications on Cloth As Metaphor and Akan Cultural Symbols.

I am by this piece recording the sterling contributions of the trio, Nana Asante-Frimpong, Dr. Kwaku Ofori Ansah, and Dr. George Kojo Arthur in making Kente a cultural icon in the US with Congressional assent in the wake of the #BLACKLIVESMATTER Civil and Human Rights awakening.

By: Addai-Sebo

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1 Comment

  • Excellent article, thank you. I have been trying to locate Dr. Ofori-Ansa and would appreciate if you would pass my contact information to him. We took a group of students from GMU to Ghana in 1999.
    Thank you,
    Phyllis Slade-Martin

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