In Accra, not far from the center, you can visit a manufacture of ghanaian beads which exist since 1989. It is called TK BEADS INDUSTRY.
It is really interesting to see how they do it from the beggining with bottles in glass to the necklaces ! They manufacture glass beads of high quality using the rich African processes; everything is handmade from molding to painting !
I went there with Accra Accueil, it is 15 mn far from Accra, on the road to Madina.
BEADS MANUFACTURING STEPS AND EXPLANATIONS
Here are the steps in photos for getting beads :
First, all the all manufacturing takes place outside, only a small shop with beads and necklace, bracelets has a room.
They have divided the place according to the activity and steps :
First, the collection part where thousands of glass bottles are piled up. These bottles are collected or given by people.
Here you can see that glasses are broken and crumbled.
Afterwards, they need to make it a ball and they bake it in an oven outside for many hours:
When it is done, and after the ball glass are cooled, they can put cooling agents :
The final step is to paint each bead with hands of course, it is a work of precision and it takes a long long time!
An at last, they can make nice necklaces homemade with good quality beads!
Many expat go there and buy some beads to make their own necklace in the shop next to the fabrication.
It is a very good activity for mothers and children!
KOLI OR NAMING BEADS
- Beads in Africa have different utilities, meanings and significations.
Ghanaian babies are born with soul name, which is the name of the day on which they are born. (for ex monday name = Adjoa for girl ; and Kojo for Boy).
But when they are 7 days, the naming ceremony takes place and a formal name is given.
Then , they are presented to “the sun and earth” and given water, alcohol and salt to taste.
The ceremony includes the grandmother bestowing blue Koli or plain white beads on the child, by tying them on a cotton thread on the joints (waist, neck, ankles).
There is language of beads : for example if the child is a member of a royal family, a gold nugget, yellow beads or coral may be added to the Koli beads. As babies grow, the tightness of the string of beads indicates whether they are growing at a healthy rate so that their mother are awared if their baby is under or overweight. And moreover, the string of beads is also used to attach nappied!!
African women wear waist beads for different reasons.
The strands of small, glass beads are often bestowed upon young girls who start to wear in the run up to puberty.
As the girls grow, so the tightness of the waist beads indicates whether they are growing at a healthy rate. As well as weight control, they are also worn for spiritual reasons, chastity and to document pertinent stages of a woman’s life.
Beads colours are symbolic as well :
Yellow means royalty, white purity…. :
Traditionally waist beads are a very private body ornament with only the wearer deciding what she wears, and are hidden under their clothes.
Nowadays, they are being appropriated by women all over the world, wearing beads in necklaces like a fashion accessories.
This is causing an offense among those with a traditionalist perspective.