The formal name for shwe shwe is ‘Indigo-dyed discharge printed fabric’. It is said that the indigo cloth arrived in Africa more than 2000 years ago, used as trade goods by the Arabs and Indians. But it really kicked off in South Africa when German settlers introduced it to the Xhosa people in the mid-1800s. The Xhosa women took a look at these wondrous bolts of cloth, fell in love with the shwe shwe fabric and made it their own.
Hello Bella readers, it’s been such an interesting journey and I can’t wait to share the first few months. My name is Bukky Bello, the CEO of Bellafricana and I will like to share how Bellafricana started and the journey so far. I love all my Digest readers, so if you are reading this, you are part of the success so far. Happy Reading and have a Beautiful Week!
Stephen Badu, marketing director of Ghanaian fabric company Premium African Textiles, recently told the Christian Science Monitor that pirated designs—predominantly from China—make up about 60 percent of all textiles sold in Ghana and often retail for half the price of authentic product, forcing several local manufacturers to close in recent years.
Bukky Bello who is the founder of Bellafricana shares with Bellafricana digest viewers the launch of an online marketplace for Afrocentric and Handmade products in Africa (starting with Nigeria her homeland) with the aim of promoting local content through the connection of local artisans, talents and creatives to the global reach. Let’s hear her story…
Kente Ghanaian textile is from Ghana, a country located in West Africa. Kente is a cloth worn by royalty. It is hand woven just like the Aso-oke (Nigerian textile) in wooden looms and is of very high worth. It comes in a variety of patterns, colours and designs, each of which have different meanings.
According to Ghanaian mythology, Kente textile was first made when two friends watched how a spider wove its web. They created the Kente cloth by mimicking the actions of the spiders. It is said that this story, whether true or not, shows the harmony between Ghanaians and Mother Nature.
Looking back in the olden times, the Kente cloth is reserved for the Kings and is associated with royalty and sacredness. Even in recent times, it is worn only during important times. Though the cloth has widespread acceptance and usage it is still held in high esteem among the Akan tribe and the Ghanaians in general.
The Kente cloth is one of the most famous and wanted fabric in the whole of Africa. For the Ghanaians, this represents the history, philosophy, oral literature, religious beliefs, political thought and aesthetic principles of life.
Bellafricana is a marketplace where people around the world go to sell and buy unique Afrocentric and handmade goods. We are huge lovers of Afrocentric (made from Africa) and handmade products and services hence the reason we have created a platform to connect artisans, creatives, buyers, sellers and manufacturers.
The first time I was opportuned to meet Mr Bayo Ademiluyi (founder of Ty-tys) was at the Chevron (Afro-centric) bazaar. It was so random as one of the Bellafricana team had just posted an article about Ty-tys which caught my attention. Mr Ademiluyi is very jovial, down to earth and talented of course. I couldn’t help but interview him to hear the story of how Ty-tys came about.
Kuba cloth is a hand-woven cloth made from the fib of Raphia Vinifera palm leaves. Kuba people of the Congo first hand cut, and then weave the strips of leaf to make pieces of fabric, often called raffia cloth.
There are several different sub groups of the Kuba people. Each group has different and unique ways to make the fabric. Some make it thicker, longer, shorter, or with different patches. Each patch is symbolic and many times a piece has many different meanings.
Mud cloth is a traditional woven cloth from Bamana people of Mali with rich hues ranging from rich black, brown, mustard, red or green (although other colors are sometimes found), with sections of the cloth composing of individual motifs such as fish bones, little stars or hunters.
Mudcloth in Africa dates as far back as the 12th century AD. The symbols and shape arrangement on the mudcloth reveals a variety of different secrets. A person’s social status, occupation and character can all be represented in a piece of mudcloth. Each piece of mudcloth has its own unique story to tell.
Kitenge is an East African cotton fabric printed in various colours and distinctive patterns. It has its origin from Kiswahili kitengele. Kitenge is sometimes worn as sarong by women, or as a baby sling. Some of the African countries where kitenge is worn are Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, and Sudan. It is an informal and inexpensive fabric with a distinctive border and political slogans.
In Swahili the plural form is ‘vitenge’ while in Tonga it is ‘zitenge’. It forms an important part of the East African culture. Kitenge fabric has a long history and gives the Eastern African region an identity. Beyonce, Gwen Stefani, Kim Kardashian and Solange are some of the celebrities that have been spotted on the red carpet wearing Kitenge designs.
In Kenya the Kitenge festival is a popular event held periodically and is meant to highlight the varied uses of Kitenge fabric. This vibrant cotton fabric is wax printed, using rotary printing machines. Most often it’s a multicolored, dark wax print on a lighter background. The printing on the cloth is done by a traditional batik technique.