*Bonwire is a town in Ghana known very well for weaving Kente, an intricate part of Ghanaian custom and history. The poem “Bonwire” takes this relevant aspect of Ghanaian culture and employs it in describing God as the Kente weaver, the kente as life and humanity, and the strands of thread that make the kente as some important elements of life and humanity.
This poet introduces colours to represent these elements and though they seem unconventionally associated to the elements that’s ultimately how I understand the roles of these coloured threads strung together in kente.
Agya dɔ ne nsaawa
Dwoada kɔsi Memenada ɔtena ne nsadua akyi
Ɔde ɔdɔ, adagye ne nyansa na ɔde nwon n’ahweneε
Na kwasiada awia w’atenase
W’atenase komm ahwε sεdeε n’asaawa abom adane kente kama bi
Asaawa biaa wɔ adwuma a εyε wɔ kente no mu
Ɛwɔ n’asεm a εka fa kente no ho
Ɛwɔ ne fa wɔ kente anwonsem no mu
Ahabanmono yε awieε, deε yεbε dua biaa, deε yεbε hyε ase bia bεfifi ama yεhu n’ahaban, n’aduaba, n’awieε
Kɔkɔɔ yε nokore, sε obi wɔ tumi a, sε ɔyε nipa papa a, sε ɔwɔ akoma a, wontumi nyi mfiri ne mogya mu – mogya ntwa atworɔ
Tuntum ye asomdwoeε, yεsɔre anɔpa biara wɔɔberε mu, yεde ɔhaw nante fa awia mu, nanso anadwo mu, asum no yi ahokyerε nyinaa fi y’adwen mu
Bibir yε gyedie, asεm biaa εbεtowo, fa biaa wowɔ, wonim sε wohwε soro a, wobεhu awiamu – wonim wɔ wakoma mu sε Nyame wɔ soro.
Akokɔsrade yε ahotew, εtesε sikakɔkɔɔ pεpεεpε, εyεdε ma y’ani, na yεnsatea koraa nim ne hwam. Bibiara ntumi mframu nsεe no.
Fitaa yε fie, asem biaa εda me kra so, metwerε gu krataa so a, mehome εfirisε menimsε me kra nsεmfua wɔ fie.
Father loves his kente threads
Monday through to Saturday he sits behind his kente loom
And with love, patience and wisdom he weaves his Kente threads
On Sunday, he sits
He sits down quietly and admires how beautiful his Kente turned out
Each string has a role it plays in the Kente
It has what is says about the Kente
It has its part it tells in Kente’s story
Green is the end, whatever we plant, whatever we begin will grow and show its leaves, its fruits, its end.
Red is truth, if someone is willful, if he is a good person, if he is patient, it is part of him. You cant take these qualities out of his blood – blood doesn’t lie
Black is peace, in the morning we wake up weary, we walk through the afternoon with troubles but in the night, the darkness clears all worry from our minds
Blue is belief, no matter what happens to you or where u are, if you look up you will see the sky – you know that God lives up above
Yellow is purity, its exactly like gold, its sweet to the eyes and even the fingers know its scent. Nothing can contaminate it.
White is home, all that is in my soul I write onto a piece of paper, and when I do I can rest because I know the words of my soul are at home.
Written and translated by Nanahene Djan