Saturday, 4 January 2014

Print Stories: Nkrumah's pencil

This ever-popular fabric, whilst sometimes referred to as ‘backgammon’ for its similarity to the zigzag pattern of the board game, is fondly called ‘Nkrumah’s Pen’ in homage to Ghana’s first President, Kwame Nkrumah. 

Nkrumah was seen as a powerful force behind Ghana’s liberation from its British colonial masters, and was praised for his forward vision and desire to create an industrialised, modern Ghana. When he was appointed in 1960, he was beloved by the Ghanaian people and this in part was due to his charisma and the powerful speeches he delivered. The story goes that Nkrumah would meticulously write notes with a very sharp pencil before giving a speech, and so this fabric was named in honour of his fine wit and sharp intellect (and his sharp pencil!).

The print is now available all over West Africa. We found a lovely dark green version at the Marché Sandaga in Dakar, Senegal and loved it so much we bought 12 metres! 

The Nkrumah's pencil that will be featuring in Madame Tay's first production lot.

 The below vintage shot comes from Malian photographer Adama Kouyaté, who owned a photo studio in Ségou during the 1960s and 1970s. The women is wearing a simple dress and wrap skirt made from Nkrumah's pencil - we'd love to know what colour she chose!

Photo Credit: Adama Kouyaté, taken from

You can find more beautiful vintage photos by Adama Kouyaté here:

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