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Gran's Sunday Hat
Rebekah Mawuko
Chattanooga, TN

My first exposure to kente was at the knees of my grandmother. Once again, she was redesigning her Sunday hat. Grans went through this ritual twice a year of remaking her clothes and accessories, and had everyone thinking she had bought some new duds. This time, she was sewing a strip of kente around the band of her old black hat. It was the 70s after all, a time to be black, a time to be proud. I remember stroking that piece of kente like it was a pet. The colors were so attractive and I had never seen anything like it. I asked her where she got it. She said "from Africa, my home". I replied, "what do you mean, you live right here, you ain't never been nowhere else and where is Africa." Well, this led to a long, long discussion of social studies, history, culture and traditions. To this very day, I pass all this information and more on to the young people with whom I work as a visual and performing artist. I remembered this story when my husband (who is Ewe) and I worked with twenty 4-year olds at a local daycare center to present an African music and dance program in celebration of Kwanzaa. As we dressed the little boys and girls in kente strips and wraps, their eyes opened wide in wonder and they asked the same questions I did at the knees of my grandmother.

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