Friday, May 09, 2008

Give your love to me only...

So in the aftermath of receiving yet again another funeral invitation I finally admitted that it was prudent to invest in some funeral outfits. Sounds a bit morbid I know, but yes, had to be practical.

This funeral was to be held in Kumasi, and I had been advised that I would require no less than three outfits. There should be two for Saturday (morning and afternoon) and at least one for Sunday. Normally it would have been three, but luckily there was no wake keeping on the Friday so didn’t have to plan for that.

Cloth in Ghanaian culture plays a very significant role. There are different types of cloths associated with different occasions – funerals, weddings, births, deaths, holidays, or institutions such as churches and even schools. It is not unusual on a Friday to see persons - especially women - wear cloths printed with the mottos and logos of their respective institutions. The Ghana @50 celebrations last year perhaps led to the greatest variety in cloth for any one holiday that I have been privileged enough to witness while here.

Makola Market - in and around Rawlings Park - is the place to buy material in Accra. Given the social complexities surrounding funerals, I asked a friend to go with me so I could buy the right types of things. There were a couple of things that I had to take into consideration, included but not limited to:

  • time of day when the cloth would be worn
  • appropriate colours
  • texture
  • amount as in quantity
  • design
  • local prints vs the Dutch prints
  • Akosombo vs GTP

Get the point? I needed professional help!

After about two hours of looking and the inevitable haggling I eventually found something that I liked. The amount of shops just specializing in different types of materials was mind boggling – GTP, Akosombo, Vlisco, Printex just to name a few. Not to mention the shops that specialized in other materials like lace, linen and batiks. Prices varied according to type of material and amounts bought. I think the most expensive I saw was in the lace shop where they were asking for the equivalent of six hundred and fifty dollars for six yards of material!

Got my kabba and slit sewn and was looking every inch like a well-dressed Ghanaian lady for an Ashanti funeral. Was looking at the border of my cloth when I noticed some words written in one of the local language. I asked someone to translate and was told it said ' give your love to me only' and this in fact it was the name of my cloth! Had a good laugh of course – sub-conscious attraction to the design and hence purchase or curious coincidence? Hmmm.

Of course that aroused my curiosity – could I use cloths to send messages? I wonder. Did a quick web search and came up with some that you may find funny:

  • good husband
  • mind your business
  • each year has its ups and down
  • the steering wheel kills the driver. (hmmm!)

For the actual designs that match these names see GTP’s site.

Do use the links given for some of the textile houses though to see the beauty and intricacies of the printed textiles and the equally interesting fashions. Some are simply stunning.

Wonder what my next piece of cloth will be ‘advertising’ about me?


Nana Yaw Asiedu said...

Do I detect, Denise, that you would now invite thousands of funerals to come your way so you can show off a few of these fine fabrics? ;-)

Denise said...

Lol. No just thousands to give their love to me only! That reminds me - I should go and cross check the names of my other cloths.