Travelogue: The Weaving Looms of Accra Int. Airport

The lounge of an international airport is the least of places to expect to see a traditional Kente fabric weaver working hard at his loom, spinning yarn after yarn into beautiful patterns of clothes.

The departure lounge of the Kotoka Int. Airport Accra, Ghana is one certain place you will find Mr. Kwadwo Asante, 49, busy with both hands and feet on his loom producing traditional kente materials for sale to travelers.

A few feet away, nestled between him and an official working desk is an open shop that displays and sells his products to travelers looking to buy authentic Kente fabrics as gifts, souvenirs, and mementos.
Mr. Asante at work
Mr. Asante’s sisters are the vendors in the shop. “It’s a family trade back in our Kumasi region,” he confirms to me, his eyes shining with pride. He has been in it for 36 years now. “I learned the trade from my father and my 17 year-old son is also into it,” he speaks with a tenor of fulfillment in his voice.

Beside him is a pile of dismembered loom, a second one that his younger brother Venetus Anokye uses. The Asante brothers, wary of leaving the looms inactive without weaving, do day and night shift. Today, the older Asante is on day’s work while the brother would work at night.
His tools of trade
“Business is not bad,” he says. “We get patronage from Africans and Europeans including Ghanaians traveling through the airport.” With taxes and bills to be paid, he is wise to stock his shop not only with his Kente gift items, arts and crafts but with other craft materials produced by others outside the airport like sculptors and factory-made Kente textile that travellers may find appealing. Articles in the shop are priced from as low as 7 Ghana Cedis ($1.6) to as much as 1,500 Ghana Cedis ($349).
All for sale
This business model has kept Mr. Asante and his loom busy day and night for the past 6 years preserving his family trade and source of income and promoting Ghana’s local craft through the international gateway of the Airport lounge.
If you ever find yourself in the airport lounge, do locate him. You wont miss him. He is the only one with looms in the airport.  His business name is Wonoo Ventures Ltd and it has the marks of a serious business brand like a logo and email address.