A former Mayor of Luton and Founder of Ghana Society UK (GSUK) in the United Kingdom, Councillor Maria Ampah Lovell, has called for the institutionalisation of a National Kente Day in Ghana.
Speaking at the end of this year’s Kente Festival, held in Luton from October 29 to November 28, 2021, Councillor Lovell said, “Having organised Kente Festival for more than a decade now, and having observed how this treasured Ghanaian cultural heritage is enamoured around the world, I think it is about time the Government of Ghana and the traditional authorities in the country stepped up strategic efforts to promote the Kente cloth, internationally.”
Councillor Lovell who is of Ghanaian descent and became the first African woman to be elected mayor of Luton in September 2020 stressed that “When I was growing up as a child in Ghana, I remember there used to be a special day around Easter where Kente was worn by almost everyone to church. As children, it was always a momentous occasion we feverishly looked forward to on the calendar each year.”
In addition, she observed, “In those days, the world was not as commercially connected as it is today. And so we could not do much to put this special cloth on the international market. However, things have evolved now and we need to take advantage of the new global opportunities it presents and harness this cultural heritage.
Touching on how this can be achieved, Councillor Lovell noted that “as the saying goes, charity begins at home, and so I would like to propose the institutionalisation of a National Kente Day in Ghana to celebrate our pride in this symbolic cloth which is now worn globally.”
Councillor Lovell said when the National Kente Day is organised, Ghanaians, both home and in the diaspora, must be encouraged to adorn themselves with the Kente fabric.
According to her, there are enormous benefits that can accrue to Ghana through the promotion of the Kente cloth, explaining that “I believe that if we re-ignite the national interest in the Kente cloth, it will be a huge booster for the Ghanaian economy.”
She noted that institutionalising National Kente Day in Ghana will create employment for the artisans as a vocation.
Similarly, she added, institutionalisation of a National Kente Day in Ghana will encourage the artisans to transfer their knowledge and craftsmanship to the next generation; training both male and female to carry on this legacy.
Councillor Lovell has, therefore, charged the National Commission on Culture, a key partner of this year’s festival to initiate consultations on the subject with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ministry of Chieftaincy and Religious Affairs to lead the effort in the institutionalisation of a National Kente Day in Ghana.
The festival was attended by a high pedigree of guests that included Her Excellency, Madam Rita Tani Iddi, Ghana Deputy High Commissioner for UK, Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenants, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, Police and Crime Commissioner, Rachel Hopkins, MP for Luton North, Cllr Farzana Kharawala, Mayor of Leighton-Linslade, as well as Councillors and Traditional Chiefs and Queen Mothers from Ghana.
Earlier in the month, there were activities that included drumming and dancing workshops in schools, exhibition of Kente and other arts and crafts made in Ghana at the Luton Shopping Mall. The activities were highly patronized by Ghanaians and other Africans in the Diaspora as well as local residents of Luton.