I have visited most of the small villages near Kumasi and Adanwomase was the last one that was left on my list. It was the last mainly because it was the furthest away, and partly because it’s speciality is the kente cloth, just like in Bonwire. I really was expecting just another Bonwire with the sellers rushing towards me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that no one really gave me too much attention when I stepped off the tro tro. Obviously people could not resist the odd glances at the white man in their village, but it was as invisible as I have felt in my time in Ghana. It did seem like people were making a visible effort not to look at me.
It was an easy walk to the Visitor’s Centre because of the signboards directing me. It was probably one of the most straightforward trips I have made, without the need for asking anyone for directions. The guide explained to me that this was due to the community based eco-tourism which was implemented in the village and the people were taught how to act towards tourists and not to harass them. The things available to do in the village were clearly written down, including the kente tour and village tour. I chose to do the village tour as I had already been to Bonwire and seen the kente weaving there.
The village tour was fantastic, I got to see the coco farm, visit ordinary houses in the village, and have a look at the shrines and inside the chief’s house. It was amazing to see that almost every house had a loom to weave kente. Men of different ages were weaving and all trying to contribute to their village. The place definitely had a homely feel and the sense that the people were working hard to contribute to their village.
It was certainly the most structured tour that I have been to in the Ashanit region and I advise volunteers to go there if they really want to learn about kente and the have a thorough look at a small village.
One of the great things about being in the Kumasi is that there are many delightful little villages scattered close by. They are all within an hour of Kumasi and very easy to visit. One of the most famous villages is the kente-weaving village of Bonwire. This is the home of the kente cloth in Ghana.
Kente cloth originated from the Akan tribe and in time it has become the most well known African textile. The Ashanti people still regard it of high importance and it remains very popular and many are seen wearing it. Every colour that is on the kente cloth means something and all the symbols have a different meaning. They use cotton, linen and silk as the base material and the method of weaving varies from single, double and triple.
Bonwire was about a 45 minute tro tro ride from Kejetia, costing 45 pesewas. I had never been there before so I had no idea where to go so I was led by this one man to where they were weaving the kente. There was a boy who looked no older than 15 weaving kente and the man claimed he was the master weaver of the village! I later found out that there was a master weaver in Bonwire, but he did not work on Sundays. So already having lots of experience with these Ghanaian sellers and knowing he will lead me to his shop and give me an Obrone price (a highly inflated price reserved just for the white people!), I said goodbye to him and proceeded to look for other shops.
I was lucky enough to meet a nice college student called Vincent, who showed me to a big building where lots of weavers sell their products, a place called Export Production Village. Here you can learn step by step how they make kenke cloth as well as the different types of weaving.
I went at a time when there were no other white people so naturally I got the attention of all the weavers there. It was nice and annoying at the same time, but I managed to get a nice scarf for a good price and they explained in detail what each colour and symbol meant. They let me sit down on the workplace and weave a little bit as well.
If you ever want to buy traditional kente cloth, then Bonwire is one of the best places to go. A lot of the kente cloth that you can buy in Kumasi actually comes from Bonwire, so to make sure you get a cheap price, go and visit there!