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Gilbert "Bobbo" Ahiagble

Date: 1944-2012, Ghana
Gilbert “Bobbo” Ahiagble, of the Ewe ethnic group, was born in Agbozume, Volta Region, Ghana in 1944. He was born into a family of Master Weavers of Ewe Kente cloth. He began assisting his father at the age of three by sitting at the loom bench and winding bobbins. As a child, he would run home from school every day to practice threading loom parts. By age nine, he began using the West African loom as soon as his legs could reach the treadles.

Ahiagble obtained a solid formal education. His academic abilities led him to pursue a diploma as a secondary school teacher. However, at age 21 he decided that his love of weaving was too much to give up. Influenced by the advice of his Peace Corps math teacher, Ahiagble decided to combine teaching with his love of weaving by becoming a teacher of Kente cloth weaving. He established a weaving school on his property in Denu, a town near coastal Agbozume, called the Craft Institute of Kente Weaving where students can stay and learn. His school and business employed many weavers in the Denu and Agbozume areas.

With the help of Warren Robbins, Founder and Director of the then small and private Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C., Ahiagble was first invited to the United States in 1975 as the museum’s Artist in Residence. Thereafter he returned to the newly formed National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution to teach curators, teachers and the general public. From 1979 to 2002, Louise Meyer organized demonstrations for Ahiagble in the United States and abroad. Additionally, Meyer was Ahiagble’s coauthor on the book Master Weaver from Ghana, recognized as the 1999 Best Book for Young Children by the African Studies Association. His skills as a communicator, intelligence and charismatic personality made him an influential promoter of African textile techniques and traditions and gave him the title of “Cultural Ambassador of Kente Cloth” which led to numerous invitations to work abroad from Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

Over time, Ahiagble developed the style that made him famous: subtle combinations of weft hues with simple supplementary motifs and multicolored warps made by plying three or more threads together.

Ahiagble died in 2012 but his legacy lives on through his sons who are also Master Weavers.
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