Mark Zuckerberg may have invented Facebook but Nana Hemaa Asaa Safoa 11, Osomanyawa (Amankrado) bekai queen of Akwamu Traditional Area, Guantoa queen, Akwamufie, invented the Kente-Oke.
The power woman can be described as being very snazzy with a mix of retro, modern western and African tradition in her style. Kente-Oke was born after Nana Hemaa moved to Nigeria in the early 80s to open a branch of her company, Dachel & Company Nigeria Limited, which was involved in the production of pasta, spices and other imported products. Nana being a style icon and has a love for being associated with her roots started the importation of kente from Ghana to Nigeria
While she was in Nigeria she attended a lot of Nigerian events which was filled with people putting on Aso-oke, this was the norm for their ceremonial occasions and family occasions thus she had to wear the Aso-oke. She found it a bit heavy and coarse, hence she started wearing importing the kente and wore them to occasions in place of the Nigerian Asooke. According to her “they thought I dint want to be with the them (the Nigerians), hence I had to think of creating something which would be more suitable to me, not too tough, a bit more feminine and would incorporate both Nigerian and Ghanaian cultures together”. She took four master weavers from Ghana and brought them to Nigeria and also got four master weavers in Nigeria and she started experimenting for about four years and eventually they came up with a loom on which they could create the kente-oke and that was the beginning of the product. Kente-oke is a blend of the Ghanaian Kente and the Nigerian Aso-oke. Kente-oke has given a contemporary, state of the art look and felt to the West African Narrow Loom Hand woven fabrics, making them more sophisticated, suave, luxurious, opulent and softer.
Kente-oke is patented for any kente with metallic yarns and Aso-oke with kente designs. This product has been well accepted on the fashion market, it has been used by quite a few international designers like yemi kosibah, it has also been worn by celebrities such as Femi kuti, Wendy Richardson, Terrisa kofo, Lady Janet Boateng, Lady Watson to name a few, Kente-Oke is a preferred fabric by ladies who know what they want in terms of their fashion image.
Yemi Kosibah one of the fashion designers who has incorporated the Kente-Oke in his collection gives a brief on this ostentatious fabric. The yarn that was used is much softer which makes it more pliable and can be used with more soft fabric like chiffon and organza and it would still match perfectly. It’s a great fabric that can be used for furniture, that way it blends itself to a more international audience and it can sit very well in a very modern house in California, L.A, Venice, Tokyo or anywhere in the world.This fabric can be worn by white people, black people, Chinese apparently anyone from any nationality. it’s a brilliants fabric that Nana has created and its something quite unique that can promote the African culture and work from Africa and actually just make Africa proud. Nana has empowered women into inventing products as well.
This product has also reduced the level of unemployment, as she has employed weavers from both cultures; these weavers have to go through a stage of training before they finally become experts in this field of business. With the help of a United Nations Development Programme Grant, Nana Hemaa was able to house, train and employ less-privileged women in the art of Kente-oke weaving. Kudos to Nana for breaking new grounds, and we anticipate your own invention.