Collecting Africa

Join textile collector Karun Thakar and V&A East director Gus Casely-Hayford for an exciting discussion on Ghanaian Asafo Flags.

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
  • V&A South Kensington

    Cromwell Road
    London, SW7 2RL

  • The Lydia and Manfred Gorvy Lecture Theatre

  • For Members

    and general public; general booking now open

  • Tickets cost £10.00 - £12.00

Past Event

World renowned Asafo Flags (frankaa) made and used by Fante people of coastal Ghana have had a huge impact on global art and design scenes in the last few decades.

The earliest written mention of the Asafo flag is in the 19th Century. Translating to ‘war people’, the ‘Asafo' flags are boldly appliquéd and embroidered cloth banners used for parading on festive occasions by what began as ‘military’ companies but would become crucial social bodies.

The flags were created by specialist artists and now serve as a textile-centric artefact that ingeniously borrows from European national flags. They are symbols of pride that vividly capture periods of change and transition for the Fante people. The Asafo company tradition dates to at least the 16th Century and the use of flags might be that old.

Karun Thakar has been collecting early and fragmented Asafo flags for over 35 years during various trips to Ghana, which have been exhibited at the Brunei Gallery in London.

Join him in conversation with inaugural director of V&A East, Gus Casely-Hayford, who wrote his PhD on the history of the region where the flags are made, to delve into the dynamic art form with global impact and how the Asafo flags hold wider implications of collecting from the continent.