"I want to keep our culture alive."
Nomoda Ebenezer Djaba, also known as Cedi grew up in Odumase Krobo, a small town in southeast Ghana, with his parents and grandparents. Beads are a part of daily life there, he explains, especially during festival time, when everyone dons beads. Bead making has been in Cedi’s family for generations since the 13th century, and he himself has been making beads of recycled glass for 35 years.
Today, people travel from all over the world to come and see the beads that are made in Odumase Krobo. “Hotels and restaurants fill during bead festivals,” Cedi says, “and my community benefits.” The sales of Cedi’s beads support his family, as well as the families of the 24 artists that work in his compound. Due to the organization’s contribution to their district, they were granted a certificate from the ministry of trade, which funded the construction of street poles and lights in the town.
In Ghana, glass beads are associated with chieftaincy. They are traditional symbols for peace making, wedding ceremonies, and puberty rites. Beads can represent fertility and wealth, and can serve as tokens of congratulations and luck. They protect against the evil eye, and they are used in mourning. “My work represents my culture,” Cedi says, “because everyone in Africa associates beads with Odumase Krobo.”
Cedi explains that the most beautiful part about his work is the fact that his beads, “add value to a person’s natural beauty, making each person special, like a king.”
Cedi’s bead repertoire includes beads that are transparent, powdered, and glazed. Almost all are made of recycled glass. “Any kind of broken glass is good for making beads,” Cedi says, “and we get it locally.” He explains that glass bottles are broken into small fragments using a mortar and pestle, and then poured into molds. The glass is kiln-fired, and then the shaped, cooled beads are sanded against a flat stone.
“Through bead making,” Cedi explains, “I am able to travel outside Ghana and get ideas. I love to do something with my own hands to support my family, my community, and Ghana as a whole.”
Cedi is excited about the possibilities that participating in the IFAM | Online training program present for his organization. “It has raised up my business and products to higher level,” Cedi remarks.
The beads, with their distinctive, tiny patterns and rich colorations, are wearable works of art. “The beads,” Cedi says, “make you royalty.” One day, Cedi vows, he will build a bead museum. “I want the whole world to come,” he says, “to learn about beads, and the role that they play in African culture.”