Fabulous Fabrics

by ruthsmason


In Takoradi, walking down Secondi Street, by chance I found Afram’s.  Walls covered with racks of fabrics, tables with bolts stacked high and in the far corner a large cupboard with glass doors.  Inside were all the indigo prints a person could ever dream of!  You can imagine how I felt.  My friends patiently waited and eventually three moved on since I was in paradise and choosing was a heavenly chore.  The man in the shop was not smiling nor cajoling. He only spoke if I asked a question. I learned later that fabric shops in Ghana [not the stalls in the markets] are often owned by Lebanese. Without expression or enthusiasm, he explained which fabrics could be cut, which not; how much per yard and which were imported from China and would fade the first wash.  He showed the selvage that proves the fabric is genuine wax dyed from Ghana. Sighing, I finally chose and I bought.  12 yards of what could not be cut because it is for the traditional dress Ghanian women wear and a smaller piece that just caught my eye.


Two indigo pieces and another wax print that said Ghana to me.


Julie also bought some fabric and planned to make a blouse when she got home. As we wandered through the central market with its narrow dirt walkways covered with boards where the water ran by, we noticed women with stalls of fabric and sewing machines. “Let’s see if she will make the blouse now”, Julie said. So we asked one woman, and yes, by tomorrow. While Julie was being measured, I scanned the fabrics Lydia had in her stall and impulsively asked if she would make me one too. We all liked Lydia so much; she was quiet, all business, and by the end had a wide smile [we didn’t bargain]. Julie went back the next day to collect our two perfectly made shirts. Here is mine:
We wandered the market, through the shoe section, scarves and bras, wallets and wigs, and eventually to the fish. Here women called out to us to buy, and we smiled and looked at the crayfish, red snapper and huge snails. “But, I don’t have a kitchen” I joked. The women laughed at that and one said, “You buy my fish; I take you to my home and cook it. I have a kitchen for you!” We shook hands and smiled close, laughed some more, exchanged names and waved as we left. Ghana is a good place; I really took to it. Its human capital is immense. I so, so want it to thrive. I hope that they felt that.