November 22, 2018


Angelique Kidjo Sings in Honor of Fallen African Soldiers

On a wet and overcast day in Paris, beneath the Arc de Triomphe, you could hear Angelique Kidjo's haunting voice. Dressed in royal blue with gold circling her neck, she walked through a parted sea of world leaders. Blewu, she sang, her voice bold and unflinching. Blewu. Slowly.

November 11 is Armistice Day in France, a day to celebrate the end of the first World War. At this 100 year commemoration, Kidjo's song was a reminder of the African lives lost and often forgotten.

"Today Nov 11th 2018, I sung Bella Bellow's beautiful song "Blewu" to celebrate Peace and the memory of the fallen African soldiers of World War One in front of the leaders of this World under the Arc De Triomphe," she wrote on her Facebook page.

"Blewu" is a song in Ewe, a language spoken in Benin, Ghana, and Togo. Kidjo, originally from Benin, sang her own interpretation of the song composed by late Togolese singer Bella Bellow. Below are the original lyrics along with a translation.


Blewue, blewue [Slowly, slowly]
Blewue mia d'aƒe lo [Slowly we will get home]
Blewue mia d'aƒe lo [Slowly we will get home]
Blewu [Slowly]
Đɔɖɔɖɔ Kpɔ̃ me yɔna azɔli o [Slowly the tiger takes its strides (The tiger knows its own strength; it is not afraid) ]
Blewu, blewu, Kpɔ̃ me yɔna azɔli o [Slowly the tiger takes its time to walk]
Lã to asike me da ata dzo o [An animal with a tail does not skip over fire (To protect your children, you take caution)]
Blewu [Slowly]
Mawu si me miele [We are in God's hands]
Eya koe nya mia agbemenyãwo [He knows our future]
Dzitor si me miele [We are in God's hands]
Eya koe nya mia agbemenyãwo [He knows our future]
Minɔ ŋudzɔ, mido gbe ɖa [Be vigilent, pray]
Minɔ ŋudzɔ, mido gbe ɖa [Be vigilent, pray]
Agbe nɔ kaka megbea Tseƒe mayi o [No matter how long you live, you will one day die]
Agbe nɔ kaka megbea Tseƒe mayi o [No matter how long you live, you will one day die]
Blewue mia d'aƒe lo [Slowly we will get home]
Blewue mia d'aƒe lo [Slowly we will get home]
Blewu [Slowly]


November 11, 2018


15 African Proverbs to Inspire You This Week [Shareable Images]


When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion. 

african proverb spider web

It is not rushing that is important, it is making sure. --Maasai people of East Africa

 rushing african proverb

When you see clouds gathering, prepare to catch rainwater. --Gola people 

He who is afraid of doing too much always does too little. --Nigeria 

doingtoomuch proverb

When a king has good counselors, his reign is peaceful. --Ghana 

kingcounselors african proverb

He who does not know one thing knows another. 

knowledge proverb

Wherever a man goes to dwell, his character goes with him. 

man character african proverb

However long the night, the dawn will break. --Hausa people

nightdawn african proverb

Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.

whereyoufell african proverb

A good leader was once a good follower.

goodleader african proverb

He who refuses to obey cannot command. --Kenya

obey command african proverb

Little by little that a bird builds its nest. --Nigeria

littlebylittle african proverb

An anthill that is determined to become a giant anthill will definitely become one, no matter how many times it is destroyed by elephants. --Nigeria

anthill african proverb

The bird will not fly into your arrow.

bird arrow african proverb

There is no distance that has no end.

distance african proverb

October 01, 2016


Mud Cloth and the Fight Against Poverty

The popularity of mud cloth (bògòlanfini or bogolan) is growing, but as this video below describes, there is more to mud cloth than its beauty.

When you support African textiles, you are often supporting an entire community.

Watch the video to see how mud cloth is made, and how this artistic process is helping a community fight poverty.

Browse our full collection of mud cloths

[powr-image-slider id=b4695a34_1475364054]

Video Transcript:

This is the clay we use to make black.
In the beginning, the mud cloth was reserved for a social class, the hunters. The hunters were typically men. It was to disguise themselves by changing their scent. Among the hunters, there were some creative spirits, so they added designs.
Women have become a part of not just the weaving but also the culture. That's something that has evolved. Only now have women started doing mud cloth.
My name is Habibou Coulibaly. I named the business "Coulibaly and Brothers". Everyone who works here I consider my brothers.
First I learned the dyeing process with my grandmother. I went to Mali to perfect my skill with mud cloth.This tree is called Sigamore. We collect the leaves. There are some other dyes but it is not the season but we have the branches at our house. Now the brush strokes we put down to decorate the areas without designs. Here is trying to finish and this color is red. When he is done he will put it in the sun. I am applying the fixative. Afterwards I will add earth so that the tracing is black. So he already has a cloth with fixative. Now he is adding his designs on the cloth using earth and with what we call a stencil. All the work that we do, every time we put down fixative, 3 times, we put down mud, the colors and every time we are done we wash it with water. And then we do the work over again, fixative 3 times, mud, 2-3 colors, and again wash.
Free trade has allowed us to get paid justly for our work. It has changed our lives a lot. It allowed us to unite, to find work, and to make a living. Before, everyone was walking barefoot. Now everyone has a means of transport.
We have here what I call the permanent team, composed of eight people. When we have orders we hire more people. We have 25-30 people working in the shop.
The women made a design like this: the teeth of a jealous husband. We call this design "The Road of a Man Who Does Not Pay His Debts". So he starts walking like this until he sees someone he owes, then he goes this way. He sees Coulibaly, then he goes this way. This represents gathering. That means when we harvest we place the food here.
Keep in mind that they are not only buying a product, they are also assisting in development. Buying products reduces unemployment. So the customer is fighting poverty. Don't just look at the price of a product, but see most of all the energy of the artisan.


Browse our collection of mud cloth.

August 10, 2016


Kente Cloth at #Rio2016 Olympics: Why Ghana Looked So Good

Perhaps the most uplifting part of the Olympics each year is the Parade of Nations. Each country enters the arena proudly carrying their flag, and some, like Ghana, come out in high style. Ghana could not be missed.

Their stunning entrance was thanks to the vibrant colors and intricate patterns of kente fabric.  

Kente is the most recognized African fabric and is artistically woven by the Asante people of Ghana and the Ewe people of Ghana and Togo. Kente prints like those worn by the Ghana Olympics Team are much cheaper and easier to find than woven kente. (You can browse the gorgeous kente print in the Tess World Designs shop.)

5 things you need to know about kente cloth

1. Kente is woven in strips that are about 10 cm wide. To create a cloth big enough to wear, strips are sewn together.

Image by vickisee via Flickr CC

Image: by vickisee via Flickr CC

2. Kente patterns are not just beautiful; traditionally, each pattern has a different meaning. (Don't worry--we'll share these in a future blog post.)

3. Traditionally, kente is worn for special occasions, draped over the shoulders like a toga for men, and wrapped around the torso and waist for women. Nowadays, you'll find kente in everyday life and used as patterns for hats, shoes, and other accessories.
kente3 by John Nash via Flickr CCkente57 by John Nash via Flickr CC

Image: kente3 by John Nash via Flickr CC

Image: kente57 by John Nash via Flickr CC

 4. The origin of the word kente is highly contested. It is not the original word used by any of the tribes who create this cloth. The Asante people call the strip-woven cloth ntama or ntoma, and the Ewe people call this cloth avɔ or ɖo

5. No matter where you come from, kente will look good on you!

Kente by Utenriksdepartementet UD via Flickr CC

Image: Kente by Utenriksdepartementet UD via Flickr CC


Kente print at Tess World Designs

Kente fabric at Tess World Designs

Browse the shop and choose your favorite kente print at Tess World Designs. Here are just a few:

[powr-multi-slider id=06d43b16_1470596211]

    February 07, 2016


    Headwrap Tutorial: How To Tie A "Hat Wrap" In 6 Easy Steps


    Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t perfect Erykah Badu’s headwrap in three minutes. But if you’re in a hurry, or just learning to wrap your hair, you can create this super-easy “hat wrap” without the blood, sweat and tears.


     Step 1: Lay out your square piece of headwrap fabric.

    How to tie a head wrap - Step 1




    Step 2: Fold the square diagonally, leaving the longest end facing you.

    How to tie a head wrap - Step 2



    Step 3: Fold up the longest end so you have a rectangular fold a few inches in height. (This rectangle will be the front of your hat wrap. You can increase or decrease this height to achieve different looks.) The wrap should now look like a boat.

    How to tie a head wrap - Step 3



    Step 4: Pick up the wrap and pull the two long flaps around your head. (The rectangular fold should be facing outward, not against your forehead.)

    How to tie a head wrap - Step 4




    Step 5: Tie the two flaps together. Bring the triangular piece from the top of the wrap down and underneath the knot. (Or reverse: pull down the triangular piece first and then tie the two flaps over it.)

    How to tie a head wrap - Step 5




    Step 6: Tie the two flaps into a knot and tuck the ends underneath the wrap.

    How to tie a head wrap - Step 6

    How to tie a head wrap - Step 6

    That's it!

    Are you ready to turn heads? 

    Choose one of our beautiful easy-to-wrap, square fabrics for your next headwrap.

    Back To Top