Behind the scenes – Ghana’s Bespoke Coffins
Teshie a suburb of Accra has put Ghana on the map for its unique coffin designs. A lot has been written about Ghana’s designer coffins. What is less known is the history and the personal life stories of those whose ingenuity and creativity created this unique phenomenon.
MyWeku visited the family of Kane Kwei, the carpenter who is credited with introducing designer coffins to Ghana. MyWeku also visited Hello Coffin Designers, former apprentices of Kane Kwei. Both workshops are based on the Teshie High Street, Accra.
Kane Kwei was born in 1920 in Ghana. He started his workshop in the late 1940s.
Eric Adjetey Annan, a grandson of Kane Kwei has now been running the family business since 2005 when he was only 20. Eric works with four to seven apprentices, an artist and two tailors are attached to the workshop.
The coffins are made mostly from Ghana’s Odum tree and tend to symbolise the career achievements of the departed. At the workshop, an order had been placed for a laptop shaped coffin, for a computer technician. Oil paint, including acrylic, gives the coffins their vibrant colours.
Asked why he preferred designing coffins to taking up the chance to continue his education at university level, Eric said “the reason why I do this is to keep the legacy of my grand father Kane Kwei alive”.
According to Eric, Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop was not fulfilling its potential. He felt more could be done to market the coffins both locally and internationally through exhibitions and other collaborations. He hoped that such a strategy will bring more revenue to his town, Teshie.
Kane Kwei Workshop under the management of Eric has begun to fulfil its potential. In 2009 Eric was invited by supporters to promote his workshop and designs at exhibitions in Belgium, France and in Spain.