One of the most iconic African textiles known in Europe, Asia, and the Americas is a silent reminder of the greatness of the Ashanti Kingdom. Kente cloth and its colorful prints are traditionally associated with Western Africa; the various colors and weave patterns have spiritual and traditional connotations, and kente attire is typically regal in appearance. These days, the kente textile industry that blossomed during the days of the Ashanti Kingdom is mostly concentrated in the southern region of Ghana. West African markets that cater to locals and tourists alike will not be complete without a nice selection of handwoven kente prints created by talented local artisans. In recent years, however, kente garments sold in Ghana are likely to have been made in China.
As is the case across the rest of the world, Africa is also awash with cheaply made products imported from China. Thanks to prosperity, Ghanaian consumers are shopping more and looking for ways to get the most out of their hard-earned cedi; if they see nice kente pieces at reasonable prices, they will not hesitate to vote with their wallets. Ghanaian textile industry leaders are not happy with this kente piracy unfolding in China. In some cases, the fakers are going as far as to usurp logos. An April 2015 report by the Deutsche Welle indicated that the Ghana Standards Authority was very concerned to learn that some kente makers were going out of business due to the cheaper prints coming from Chinese factories, which in many cases are being smuggled in.
Officials in Ghana have raided markets to collect evidence of counterfeit kente garments, which are burned on the spot. Furthermore, a textile trade group has developed a system to catch the fake pieces via SMS confirmation; however, the average Ghanaian shopper is not impressed with this effort since the markets are filled with many other knockoffs such as designer sunglasses and even devices that resemble iPhones down to their logos, but that are strangely powered by the Android mobile operating system.
The fake kente situation is more alarming in the Americas, particularly among Afrocentric communities of the United States. Fashionable African American women love kente and are willing to pay top dollar for it, but only if it is the real deal made in Ghana. Respect is a tenet of Afrocentrism; therefore, cheap Chinese kente does not belong in this community.