Style

Ghanaian Designer Kofi Ansah Passes On

Internationally-acclaimed Ghanaian fashion designer Kofi Ansah passed away this past weekend, we remember his designs.

This past weekend, Ghanaian fashion designer Kofi Ansah passed away. A pioneer in modern African fashion & design, Ansah had been a tireless force in promoting and exposing West African styles on the international stage. Born to Ghanaian artists, (a classical musician and a photographer) Ansah graduated from London's Chelsea School of Art before deciding to return to his native country to start a line and help develop its national fashion industry. Ansah started with his freshman label ArtDress Ltd., later expanding into an eponymous line through which he organized and gave workshops to young and emerging Ghanaian designers. He also created and served as president of the Federation of African Designers. In terms of style, he's known for his craftsmanship in womenswear, highlighted by an undeniable signature touch — a great combination of Western contemporary design and traditional West African art. Scroll through our gallery to view some of his designs and if you want to talk about it, tweet @okayafrica with #kofiansah.

Music

6 Samples From 'Éthiopiques' in Hip-Hop

A brief history of Ethio-jazz cultural exchange featuring songs by Nas & Damian Marley, K'naan, Madlib and more.

This article was originally published on OkayAfrica in March, 2017. We're republishing it here for our Crossroads series.

It's 2000 something. I'm holed up in my bedroom searching for samples to chop up on Fruity Loops. While deep into the free-market jungle of Amazon's suggested music section, I stumble across a compilation of Ethiopian music with faded pictures of nine guys jamming in white suit jackets. I press play on the 30 second sample.

My mind races with the opportunities these breakbeats offered a budding beat maker. Catchy organs, swinging horns, funky guitar riffs, soulful melodies and grainy and pained vocalists swoon over love lost and gained. Sung in my mother tongue—Amharic—this was a far cry from the corny synthesizer music of the 1990s that my parents played on Saturday mornings. I could actually sample this shit.

The next day, I burn a CD and pop it into my dad's car. His eyes light up when the first notes ooze out of the speakers. “Where did you get this?" He asks puzzlingly. “The internet," I respond smiling.

In the 1970s my dad was one of thousands of high school students in Addis Ababa protesting the monarchy. The protests eventually created instability which lead to a coup d'état. The monarchy was overthrown and a Marxist styled military junta composed of low ranking officers called the Derg came to power. The new regime subsequently banned music they deemed to be counter revolutionary. When the Derg came into power, Amha Eshete, a pioneering record producer and founder of Ahma Records, fled to the US and the master recordings of his label's tracks somehow ended up in a warehouse in Greece.

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