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Osie Kwame of Dabaa, Ghana. Died 1978

There are about a dozen villages in the Asante region of Ghana, West Africa, where bottles are recycled into beads. The technique is called "powder-glass beadmaking." Finely crushed glass is poured into a mold and heated to make beads.

The technique goes back at least a thousand years in West Africa. No one knows when it began in Asante territory.

However, every beadmaker I met in Asante ultimately traced their skills back to Osie Kwame. He was said to have invented the process as a result of a dream he had in 1937. Many things begin with dreams in Ghana.

In 1937 there were two articles about powder glass beadmaking in Asante (using different sorts of molds) published in the English journal Man. Neither mentioned Osie Kwame.

Osie Kwame didn't really invent the process. Yet he was a master beadmaker and teacher. It was apparently his forceful personality that introduced the technique on a large scale in the Asante region.

To learn more, order Where Beads are Loved: Ghana, West Africa.

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