Asafo Flags have an interesting significance and history.
The Fante people who live along the Central Region of Ghana's coast traded extensively with Europeans and were avid buyers of imported cloth.
Lacking a standing army during the 17th century the Fante organized military groups called ‘Asafo’, the name is derived from ‘sa’ meaning war, and ‘fo’ meaning people.
During this colonization period, the ‘Asafo’ people began adopting European and British military practices such as naming and numbering their states and companies.
The earliest flags may have been painted or drawn on raffia cloth but, as is the case today most flags were made of appliquéd trade cloth.
The marking of special occasions or the installation of a new ‘Asafo’ chief (Supi) is the main motivation for the creation of a new flag.
These flags are displayed at different social events including annual festivals, ceremonies, and funerals. Simple imagery that is always unique would either depict a historical event, identify the company with an animal, an image of power or depict a confrontational proverb to threaten other rival companies.
Patchwork Applique cut edges to produce fringing, color, and symbolic scenes which is a mirrored image on both sides are typical of an Asafo Flag.
Many carried the Union Jack until Ghana claimed independence in 1957.
Today newly made flags are facing a decline as they are no longer used for war but for peaceful festival displays and enstoolment of new chiefs the demand has dropped with old traditions fading.
Asafo flags still hold an important part of communal life in Fante villages among the Asafo groups.
Since the 1990’s these flags have become highly collectible worldwide.