(Big Sister will add the pictures later that would take me hours)
Yesterday was one significant day for me. We opened the visitors’ centre with a big ceremony. This centre was the end product of all of our work. Basically everyone I’ve worked with over the last 2 years was there as well as some big men and women (including a member of Parliament, our District Chief Executive, and all the chiefs and queen mothers) and the place looked great. When they were introducing the Tourism management team I was called last and then pulled aside to get dressed to become a master kente weaver. We’re mostly certain I’m the first Caucasian one ever.
Mr. Agba, who has taken me out for 100s of Guinness’ and calls me his son, actually performed the ritual which included getting powdered. Julie wouldn’t have missed it even if I begged her probably and Steve, also from our PC group, came and took great pictures. My replacement and even my PC boss came. Having these friends there with all my site buds was all I could ask for.
Here’s a summary my boss had me write up:
My apprenticeship lasted around 18 months. For the great price of 30 Cedi ($20) and a bottle of booze I purchased the services of 2 master weavers, Bright and Joshua. Now they are best friends. They taught me everything from buying threads, setting the warp, spinning the threads, threading the pulleys, and the actual weaving. Who knows how many hours they spend fixing my mistakes.
My first pattern was a plain warp weave meaning just the background showed through. My second pattern was a plain weft weave meaning just the colors in the shuttle showed through. From there we continued to increase the difficulty. I excelled at motifs and tricky patterns earning the nickname of “the designer” but am definitely still extremely lacking in the speed department. Currently I can do one women’s strip in a day. When I told them I wanted to be the first white person to weave a patterned men’s cloth they probably doubted it but they let me try it. They told me if I finished it’d I’d could be a master weaver. I know it took a lot of their time but I never could have finished without their help.
A master weaver can see about any pattern and know how to do it completely. They are also allowed to take on an apprentice.
It shows that I’m pretty proud but many titles given are honorary, I actually earned this.
Today when I was weaving it was all congratulations from the guys. The oldest weaver in the shed came up to me and gave me a real hug, unheard of here, and told me tons of way too nice of things. Then he gave me a strip with one of my favorite traditional patterns. He said he didn’t have much but he wanted to give me this. How am I supposed to say bye to these guys?
This post could go on for days so I best stop it here with 2 good articles about Technology and how it’s changing Peace Corps and Readjusting back into life in the States after an experience like Peace Corps.
The picture of us from Obama actually made the NPR website too.