If you read a few posts below, you can see the journey of this material to the garment in Accra. I am so happy with the final product.
Friday, 28 March 2014
Thursday, 27 March 2014
After several recommendations and a bit of my own homework, I found the perfect tailor/ dressmaker. Located in Makola, in a factory setting with 10 other tailors, he was regarded as the best in town with a backlog of several weeks. Of course you can always ‘pay more’ for a quicker service. I bought the materials for jackets to be made with African prints and gold embroidery.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of all the pieces before giving them away. However, my favourite is this Black and gold dress. It’s a simple design loose enough for hot weather, but too thin for English weather! Although it’s difficult to notice, the black has a shimmer on the outside part of the material because it is waxed which maintains the texture and quality of the material.
My head wrap is simply a piece of yellow silky material for a ‘starch’ like feel for stiffening which enabled me to style it in this way. I also used safety pins to attach loose pieces together.
The location: Negotiating prices ( I was tired)
The dress making:
My brother and I had matching jackets and tops made :)
The Dubois museum in Accra was the last residence of Dr Dubois until 27th August 1963. Located in the Cantonments,Accra the residence of the current President and my hotel, the museum was a few minutes walk away.
At the center, Dr Dubois complied the Encylopedia Africa in conjunction with Pan Africanist Kwame Nkrumah, the first president of Ghana. Dubois is regarded as one of two prominent Black intellectuals of the century alongside Dr Cornell West. I would love to elaborate further ,but there is simply not enough space on here.( If you are interested have a look at Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge. Yes I am being sarcastic)
The Souls of Black Folk ‘first edition’ is in Dr Dubois’ personal library, including hundreds of books from the civil rights movements, NAACP manuals, philosophy and of course the American constitution!
Last year I spent a month in Accra, Ghana. I was fortunate enough to spend some time with friends. However, this post is not about my adventures, its about the beautiful garments I had custom made in Makola market.
If you are reading this and already noting down the location for a prospective future visit, I would recommend taking a few minutes to think about it. I do not think it is a tourist attraction, or for the adventurous type, unless you have a 'guide' or 'bodyguard' present. Ok, maybe I am slightly over-exaggerating, but Makola is not a joke. I went only because I am already accustomed to such environments having grown up in Harare, Zimabwe and visited Mbare which closely resembles Makola. However, bear in mind that I also had bodyguards the first time I visited but not the second or third time. Put simply, if you are not street smart, stay away as situations can change within a split second especially when you don't know where to run to.
Makola is a busy environment, regarded as a the largest market in Accra. From 9am-5pm ( they leave before darkness for a reason, use your imagination) the market is occupied by thousands of people all selling and buying goods and products ranging from toothbrushes, garden equipment, car parts ect . If you want 'anything', yes I mean anything you can find it there.
Despite the initial overwhelming sense of insecurity Makola is a thriving and exciting place to be. There are so many different types of people, things and adventures waiting to happen. The people are very friendly and happy to meet you, but you are always being watched. Makola has the 'cheapest' prices and most 'diverse' selections of African fabrics imported from across the whole continent. You can buy about 10 yards of material for less than £10, yes I said less than £10 your eyes are not deceiving you. On the other hand, in the same market 1 yard can cost you £200 depending on the brand and type of materials you choose to buy.
Ghana is the one the largest exporters of cocoa and gold, but also the originator of the infamous Kente prints and fabrics traditionally worn by nobility and the chiefs from the provinces.
Real Kente is expensive, with earrings the size of a 50pence coin likely to cost £15 and above.
Do not let the location or the shop deceive you. The quality of the materials are the best I have seen since I moved to the UK. Much better than Chinese imported African fabrics. The shop in the photo, located near the bus and taxi station was my favourite shop! As you can see, their materials are beautiful with literally thousands to choose from.
When leaving the market after 4pm, don't expect to rush back to your hotel. I would recommend walking to the next destination because taxi's do not move. You will get very well acquainted with your taxi driver by the third or fourth hour. Everyone tries to leave around that time until 5.