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NOVICA Artisan Gobah Tengey-Seddoh

Gobah Tengey-Seddoh

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Kente weaving in Ghana has always been a preserve of families. The quality and uniqueness of the kente cloth depends on the quality of the yarn used and the dexterity of the weaver or the family.

Gobah Tengey-Seddoh is a family of weavers who have been in kente weaving since 1821. Although the fratricidal wars have at one time or the other destroyed this ancient family business, the art is carried on or rejuvenated by another family member after some years of relapse.

The current Gobah Tengey-Seddoh Family of weavers learned the art from their father Atsu Gobah Tengey-Seddoh in the 1940s, reorganizing the weaving art into a full-fledged workshop in the Volta Region of Ghana after years of migration.

Fred Gobah Tengey-Seddoh, the present managing director is the head of a family of twelve brothers and sisters - all kente weavers who have transformed the art into a business. They employ other weavers, training them after their education to become master kente weavers who can depend on this for their livelihood.

After many years in a teaching career, Fred Gobah Tengey-Seddoh left in 1979 and took over full time weaving, marketing, lecturing, and touring Africa, the USA, and South Africa, where he held exhibitions and lectured on the history of kente weaving from the eleventh century to the present. He plies this trade by carrying a movable loom to demonstrate the intricate art and how slow this handiwork can be. Keen interest is aroused during his demonstrations and he has been nicknamed "the man with the magic hands and feet."

Kente weaving is always a scene to watch. Boys and girls, men and women use their whole body to work this intricate ancient craft. The weavers are busy with the clanging of the shuttles through the warp while the pulleys and the lams exercise the legs interchangeably.

Each strip requires considerable effort, and the looms are worked with both hands and feet. Strips are generally three to four inches wide and seven to ten feet long, and the length of time it takes to complete one strip varies by the complexity of the chosen pattern. The simplest use mostly vertical, or warp patterns, and an experienced weaver can make several of those in one day. But patterns with nearly all weft (horizontal thread) patterns, where the warp design is hardly visible, can take up to four days to complete an individual strip. Each color has its own meanings in Asante culture. Green is fertility and new harvest, gold is royalty, black is strength, aging, and spirituality, while white is purity. The patterns themselves are carefully chosen symbols, which a master weaver develops and names, often to honor people, historical events, or proverbs.

Both local and international awards have been won at exhibitions for Gobah Tengey-Seddoh's quality kente products, which include batakari, bedspreads, place mats, bags, etc. Kente is indeed fit for royalty. Everyone should possess one.