Ghana projects local smock for global market

Boys wearing smock

Ghana at the weekend stepped up efforts to globalize the indigenous “Smock,” a traditional outfit originally associated with the northern sector of the country, through a contemporary fashion exhibition to showcase the uniqueness of the fabric.

The exhibition and fashion show dubbed: “Savannah Smock – Promoting the Smock for Economic Empowerment,” was a combination of love for traditional clothing, together with the quest to exploit the uniqueness of the smock to dress impeccably, and the creation of boutiques for the product.

The Savannah Smock show was organized by the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture to promote the various types of smocks, fabrics and accessories from the Northern, Upper East and Upper West regions with the aim of educating the general public about the symbolism related to the garment and it’s modernized stylish usages.

Various categories of smock including hand woven, machine embroidered, royalty wear, ordinary mans apparel, feminine and masculine designs, as well as stylish types for occasions such as church, dinner, office, beach, school uniforms and wedding gowns were put on show.

A clear understanding of its various types and the appropriate occasion and manner for wearing different smocks will lead to the enhancement of the personality of the wearer, for the sustenance of an indigenous industry and the correct preservation of an important heritage.

Ghana News Agency observed some smock types on show as the plain-weave white cloth strips “tempeliga,” the “iyanaba,” most popular pattern with narrow black stripes on a white ground; “danseka,” the most widespread and ordinary one, which is also sometimes called “Batakari” or “Fuugu”.

The Danseka is strictly casual and can be worn by any male – even a chief in the contemporary setting; the “bana’a,” is a short sleeves usually above the elbow and is associated with relatively successful people.

In the contemporary setting, it will be more appropriate for a “smart casual” dress code; the “jampa,” smock type sleeves extend to the wrist to indicate high status and or minor chieftaincy.

The most important smock type is the “Kparikoto,” long full and very wide sleeves easily 4 feet wide. It is normally worn only by paramount chiefs.

A much more elaborate version of the Kparikoto is the huge smock ensemble ‘’elephant gown” traditionally associated with the Sokoto Caliphate. This is distinctly different from the 3 or 4 piece “Agbada”- often made of imported cloth.

As male and female models who were donned in the various stylish forms of the smock stepped gallantly on the gangway, the audience responded with amusement, shouts and applause to the unfolding globalization of the smock originally restricted to few traditional designs.

The audience including Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Journalists, Students, Europeans and other nationals were astonished to see female models in smock-designed beach wears step romantically on the gangway with calculated majestic movements.
The Smock bikini variant had one piece covering the breast, the other the groin and buttocks, leaving the rest of the body uncovered.

Ghana News Agency observed during the show that the traditional hat that was normally worn with the smock had a customary symbolic portray of the mannerism of the person.

The GNA enquiry revealed that traditional hat tilted to the left stands for peace; skewed backwards is a call for reconciliation and to let by-gone be by-gone; slanted forward means ‘I have no equal in anyway’, or ‘I am a man of my own’; and worn upward or straight means ‘I’m carrying responsibilities.’

Speaking at the Savannah Smock show, Mr Alexander Asum-Ahensah, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture said the creative industry played a very significant role in nation building.

“Our ability to create jobs greatly depends on the creative industry as well as the demand for, and high patronage of, made in Ghana goods. Such platforms serve as important incentives to encourage local producers to improve on the quality of their products.

“It is our hope that when Ghanaians embrace the idea of patronizing smock related fabrics, it will encourage all the people and stakeholders actively engaged in its production – from cotton cultivation, spinning into yarns, dyeing, weaving, sewing and marketing to increase the production levels by employing more people,” Mr Asum-Ahensah stated.

The National Symphony Orchestra and the National Dance Company were on hand to entertain the audience with classical music and immaculate artistic performances.

Source: GNA

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