When the Black Panther movie hit the cinemas, Africans and Ghanaians especially were enthused and overly excited as the movie featured a huge piece of the Ghanaian heritage, Kente.
Nana Adjoa Adobea Asante, the acting Director of the National Folklore Board at the time hinted in an interview the fact that the country had the right to sue producers of the movie, Marvel Studios for using the Kente cloth without approval.
When the story broke, most Ghanaians attacked her saying she was supposed to be grateful for Marvel promoting Ghana by using the Kente, but she saw it differently.
Speaking in an interview on the YleaderBoard Series with Rev Erskine on Y107.9FM’s Myd Morning Radio show, she explained that although she cited the possibility of a law suit, she also mentioned the Folklore Board would rather write to them which Marvel replied.
“Hakuna Matata is a Swahili phrase which means no worries but many people know it only as a song from The Lion King. As a matter of fact Disney has copyrighted Hakuna Matata and sometimes the Kenyans, the originators of the phrase need to seek permission from Disney before using the word. They have lost a part of their heritage and we didn’t want that to happen to our Kente. We didn’t sue Marvel but rather wrote to them and told them they needed to acknowledge Ghana for using Kente in the Black Panther movie and they agreed,” Nana Adjoa explained.
The move which was respected by Marvel Studios birthed a conversation with Nana Adjoa pitching Ghana as a location for their movies and also pitching other local folklore as movie story leads to the movie makers.
“Unfortunately COVID-19 hit and and the lead character, Chadwick Boseman also died but now, we are negotiating on how Ghana can benefit from the first part of the movie and sequel,” she indicated.
With support from the board, Nana Adjoa has been able to put in place regulations that require businesses to pay for using artefacts, symbols and symbolic local clothes for commercial purposes.
“So anytime you use the Kente and other things beyond the customary purpose you need our permission. Even local companies need our permission to use our local heritage. Local companies pay lower rates as compared to the multinationals.”
The Folklore Board started a scouting project which helped them identify some 9 companies that used Kente for commercial purposes and roped them into the programme. Presently, over 90 companies now pay the Folklore Board and seeks permission to use the Kente cloth for commercial purposes, and this protects the country’s heritage and intellectual property.