Are Kente cloths sustainable?
Think about the following.
- Kente weaving is a Ghanaian tradition that is passed on from generation to generation.
- Traditional Kente cloths are made without the use of any fossil fuel.
- The looms are made from timber, however the amount used is not a threat to the forests and woodlands of Ghana. A well-made loom has a long life and can be repaired easily.
- Selling Kente cloths, particularly to tourists, is an important source of income for the local people.
- Women are now more involved in designing and weaving the cloths. This has improved their status in the community.
- In the past, the threads used for Kente cloths were made and dyed locally, using dyes made from plants. However, nowadays a lot of threads are imported from factories in Europe or Asia. These factories are likely to be highly mechanised and to use chemical dyes and processes. Shipping the threads adds to their cost and damages the environment.
- Traditional, handmade Kente cloths are under threat from mass-produced copies produced in other countries (in some places the designs are even printed onto cloth, rather than woven). The Ghanaian designers and weavers are trying to preserve their intellectual property rights by copyrighting and patenting their designs. If they are successful, this will help to maintain the local industry.