Tuesday, 29 May 2012

African print fabrics -Names and Meaning

Ghana is one of the leading countries in the production of African print fabric. So to speak, there are two major companies that produce these fabrics; Ghana Textiles Printers (GTP), and Akosombo Textiles Limited (ATL).

These fabrics are mostly designed to mirror various African culture and traditions. Many of the designs found on fabrics portray events or adages. Others also depict highly respected people.

Most of these fabrics produced in Ghana have local names. 'Yaw Donkor', 'Bosu', 'Ama Serwaa', 'Efie mmosea' etc. are some of the names of the fabrics in Ghana.

 Below are some pictures of the cloths and their names. 

sika wo nntaban

This fabric is known as sika wo nntaban or sika tu. It is translated as money flies. This simply means that, if you get hold of money, you must take care of it else you will loose it and money lost is difficult to regain.

Efie mmosea
Efie mmosea is the name of this fabric. This, in English is gravels. Gravels because, the design in it looks like small stones. The meaning is that if your sister or a relative hurts you, it is more painful than an outsider. The popular adage is, efie mmosea s3 etwa wua, eye ya-when a member of your family hurts you, it is very painful.


We all know that the whale is one of the biggest, if not the biggest animal in the sea. It caries its weight around showing that no animal can tackle it. In Twi, a whale is called 'Bonsu' ( Twi is one of the local languages in Ghana). This very fabric is called 'Bonsu', literally, the whale in the sea. so when a person puts on this cloth, the message he or she is trying to put across is that, no one can tackle him or her.

This fabric is known as 'Yaw Donkor'. This is a name of a person, meaning that the first person to
Yaw Donkor
have used this cloth was called Yaw Donkor and he was a very rich and popular man. Thus, because of his popularity and passion for African fabric, this particular one was named after him.

Names are given to fabrics so that it becomes easy to identify and purchase.


  1. my mom loves African prints, and so i have grown to love them too. however i never learnt the names from her. thanks for the tip.

  2. hi,

    I live in norht of africa. orginally ı am turque ı love africans print, tissu,

    and one day ı want to go another africans country.

  3. Good to go down memory lane. I used to keep pieces any time

    the old lady got a new piece. thats how i learnt the names of the prints

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  6. This has helped a lot in my research. Thank u printafricagh

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