Adrinkra symbols were originally used to make African hand-printed cloths, initially from the Ashanti people of Ghana but also produced by the Gyaman people of Ivory Coast. Around the 19th Century, the Ashanti developed a unique art of Adinkra printing cloths, made and used exclusively by royalty and spiritual leaders for sacred ceremonies. Today Adinkra cloths are used for a wide range of social activities, in addition to the sacred usage in festivals, church-going, weddings, naming ceremonies and initiation rituals. The meaning of each symbol derives from a proverb, event, human attitude, animal behavior, plants and shapes of inanimate and man-made objects. The symbols and their meanings are still used to convey a message through a wide range of products including clothing accessories, interior decoration, book covers, packages, business logos and … why not: chocolate.
As part of his graduation project in 2002, and after his return from Ghana, David contacted several chocolate manufactures until he found The Day Chocolate Company, a 45% owned by a farmers’ co-operative of Ghanaian Cocoa growers called Kuapa Kokoo. David explained to them the idea of making a new brand of chocolate, exporting the visual symbolism characteristic of Adinkra, together with the prime substance for chocolate production. Ghana supplies half of the world’s cocoa (along Ivory Coast) but unfortunately the cocoa gets mixed by the time we buy a chocolate bar in Western supermarket. The idea was to create a cultural product, which contained not only the cocoa powder from the country of origin, but also delivered a message conveying its original culture.
The company’s marketing manager thanked David for the idea, but nothing really was put into practice. Years later, David accidentally walked pass by their office in Berdmonsey, to realised some Adinkra posters were hanging up on their walls, unbelievably they had taken the idea further and made, not exactly was David proposed, but Adinkra symbols were embedded in the chocolate wrapping. Immediately, David contacted the company to know more about it and they responded with a series of chocolate bars posted to David in gratitude. End of the story.
Apart of the Adinkra chocolate prototype, David designed the first digital Adrinkra font, available free online for many years and widely used by US design students. Today many more Adinkra fonts are available online. Use it wisely. Find out more about Adinkra symbolism here.