Reading Kente for a King by Angela Christian retold by Kathy Knowles at the Sherigu library

Paul Ayutoliya writes:  At the Sherigu library on the 9th of May 2018, I held a group reading with patrons on the story of Kente for a King by Angela Christian retold by Kathy Knowles.

The summary of the story is about the evolution of the prestigious dress called Kente that is wore mostly by the Ashanti Kings and people of Ghana.  In the story, the was a powerful King of the Kingdom of Ashanti, who was a fearless warrior, brave in battle and respected by his subjects, the king’s people were expects in metal works, carving and weaving. No one could match them when it comes to the quality of gold weight they cast, the stools they carved or the cloths the wove. All the weavers in the Ashanti Kingdom have a weaving center called Bonwire. According to Legend, Kurugu and Ameyaw who were brothers from this (Bonwire) village went into the forest to hunt. There they saw a spider weaving a beautiful web. Kurugu, the senior brother, said, “If a little spider can make such a lovely design, we should be able to do same. The two brothers returned to Bonwire and wove special cloths using black and white fibres from the raffia palm tree. They named these cloths “Kente” after Kenten, the Akan word for basket, and presented them to their King. The King was very pleased.

‘As the years passed, the King grew tired of wearing only black and white kentes, so he called his royal weavers of Bonwire together. He showed them the many fine cloths they had woven and congratulated them. “But”, the King said, “if you want to please me even more, could you weave a kente cloth using many different colours?” The weavers wanted to please their King, but how could they weave a cloth of different colours when all they had was black and white yarn? Opoku, one of the best weavers, had an idea. We are surrounded by many different trees and plants. We could get beautiful coloured dyes by pounding their bark and roots, and grinding their seeds. The weavers did so and were happy with the colours they produced- gold, green and red. When each of them had woven a coloured kente, they set out once again for the King’s palace in Kumasi. At the King palace, their leader spoke: “Oh King! Our King! Great is our joy, for now we have woven coloured kentes for you.”  The King replied: “My people! My dear people! You have truly pleased me today. How beautiful and coloured are the kentes you have woven.” The King removed his white and black kente and put on the brightly coloured one made by Opoku. The weavers rejoiced and returned to Bonwire to weave more beautiful kentes for their beloved King.’ As the weavers returned to Bonwire, the best weaver Opoku did not relent on seeking for more beautiful cloths than what they got, he wanted to please their King even more than what they have done so far.

From the story, I share the following lessons with patrons:

  • Whatever talent or skill we have, let’s work hard to improve it.
  • Nature has a lot of potentials or lessons that surrounds us that we can apply to improve ourselves in whatever we are doing or engaged in. Referring patrons back to the brothers who went into the forest to hunt. The idea at the beginning was to go into the forest and hunt but they returned to their village with lessons from the little spider that wove a beautiful web. With that idea they got from the spider they were able to weave cloths also that pleased their King, they happy themselves that they are able to do something that their King is pleased with.
  • Learn to appreciate the little in your hands when asking for some more. The King called the royal weavers together, years he congratulated them for the beautiful black and white yarn Kentes before requesting for coloured kentes.
  • We should think critically on what we can explore on the natural resources that we have around us. Opoku quickly came out with an idea that they could get coloured dyes by pounding the bark of the trees, the roots and grinding their seeds.

I concluded with the pupils by saying, in order to realize or identify whatever opportunity that exist around us better or skill one has, then reading books daily at the library, in school, at homes and other places were books can found should be taken seriously.