During our excursion to Kumasi, we had the opportunity to visit a small village known for its production of the most beautiful fabrics stamped with Adinkra symbols. Adinkra symbols originated from the Ashanti people, and Kumasi was the heart of the Ashanti Kingdom.
We were briefly introduced to the Adinkra symbols, their origin, and their meanings, before we arrived to Ghana. Everywhere I look I see the overarching influencTHee the Adinkra symbols have on the people in Ghana, even on those not belonging to the Ashanti linage. Adinkra symbols had been stamped on table clothes and dresses, painted on banners and on the side of buildings, and carved in drums, jewelry, and monuments. There even hangs a painting of an Adinkra symbol, Gye Nyame, over the dining table at the guest house. Gye Nyame translates to “except for God”, which represents God’s omnipotent, or supreme, quality.
As we walked with a guide through the steps of making an Adinkra stamp, a young man called attention to my earrings. They too were the Gye Nyame symbol. At the end of the tour, we were given the option to make our own fabric stamped with Adinkra symbols. Although constantly submerged in the presence of the Adinkra symbols, this quickly become the first moment in which I internalized their meanings. I chose a red fabric because, to me, red symbolizes strength and passion. The two Adinkra symbols I used were the Kintinkantan symbol and the Owo Foro Adobe symbol. The Kintinkantan symbol means “arrogance” as a reminder to be the opposite, humble. The Owo Foro Adobe symbols means “snake climbing the raffia tree” which represents diligence and an attempt to do the impossible.
With the help of the Adinkra symbols, my fabric told the story of a woman with a burning passion to humbly lead others in the fight to make the impossible a reality. It was the story of a woman I inspired to be.