This is a piece of fabric I bought while on holiday in Banjul, capital of the Gambia. We spent a day in the city in order to visit the Methodist Church where a new generator had been purchased by the congregation in New Malden. The cloth celebrates the Methodist Church in the Gambia and I became fascinated by the Gambian tradition of wearing fabric to acknowledge and promote many different things. I remember seeing a woman in Albert Market wearing traditional dress with a matching head wrap in bright, printed fabric. When I asked if the cloth was for sale, I was told it was worn in support of a political party. While logos and designer brands have become part of popular culture in this country, it seems that wearing anything to indicate allegiance to a political party is limited to a badge or rosette.
I was prompted to make this post after visiting the West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song exhibition at the British Library. There you will find a whole range of artefacts that demonstrate the interlinking nature of word, symbol and song including texts, drums, shell-stories and, of course, fabric. It’s well worth a visit.