African wax-prints are iconic in the fact that they imprint history in their designs, immortalising key events, stories and people amongst many other things. And so, with the rise of COVID-19, it is no surprise to see Ghana’s biggest textile printing company, Ghana Textile Printing (GTP) putting a positive spin on the pandemic with their own line of COVID-19 inspired prints.
"[We] put a positive twist on a negative phenomenon" Stephen Badu, from GTP, told BBC Focus on Africa radio.
The designs feature key elements unique to Ghana’s own experience of the pandemic. These include padlocks, keys (symbolising the lockdown), as well as planes (symbolising the cancelled flights) to curb the spread of the virus. There are even prints featuring the iconic glasses worn by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Akufo-Addo has become the leading spokesperson for regular updates about the pandemic nation-wide, and his glasses have a very distinctive aesthetic, therefore becoming a distinguishing icon of COVID-19 for Ghana with his “Fellow Ghanaians” speeches on radio and television.
"We are a business that tells stories and we tell our stories through our designs," Mr Badu, GTP's marketing director, said.
"We believe that it is going to leave a mark in the history of the world, and it's important that generations that come after us get to know that once upon a time, such a phenomenon occurred."
Pictured left is the “Fellow Ghanaians Radio Waves/Television Screens” print featuring spectacles worn by President Nana Akufo-Addo. "He has iconic spectacles that he wears and when you watch him on television that is what stands out," Mr Badu says.
Image taken from Afropolitain.
Ghana’s capital, Accra and the city of Kumasi were locked down for three weeks, with the locks and keys in the below prints symbolising this.
Flights were also stopped in and out of the country during the lockdown, with the print featuring planes (pictured left) documenting this.
Image sourced from Afropolitain article.
Despite its name, GTP is actually owned by a Dutch company called Vlisco. Nevertheless, Mr Badu argues that the designs produced today are solely by Ghanaians, documenting their own narrative(s). It also allowed Ghanaian creatives to take back from counterfeit designs of wax-print that are now being mass produced in China - taking away much needed business from the local textile industry. The demand for these collections has skyrocketed over the past few months, injecting much needed money back into the local industry.
"The designs which we print now are all originated by Ghanaians and printed by Ghanaians, so behind every design we produce it's our value systems, our sense of art, and how we communicate," he said.
Read more about GTP and the rad textiles they are producing here.