VIDEO: “Obroni Wawu”- From Oxford Street to Kumasi Market


For many next generation Ghanaians who have grown up living in Europe or The United States and often travel back to Ghana on holiday,taking requests for family members in Ghana for your second hand clothes or new clothes from Primark, H&M etc is pretty standard procedure.

What may be a little more insightful to some of us will be the fact that the clothes we no longer want and give away to charity shops often ends up being sold to wholesalers who export to Ghana to form a multi-million pound industry known as the “Obruni wawu” trade. (Literal translation:Dead white man’s clothes!) Apparently some Ghanaian traders are making up to £25,000.00 a day as a result of this lucrative trade, however unsurprisingly not everyone is benefiting.

The BBC recently broadcast a documentary called The Secret Life of Your Clothes that explored this industry by having Paralympic medallist, Ade Adepitan interview many of those affected and involved in this trade.  This included wholesalers who buy from the charity shops in the UK, the importers at the markets in Ghana, the smaller market traders, the consumers and those who are struggling to compete with traditional clothing businesses.

I have mixed feelings about the trade as there are some clear pros on a micro level and obvious negative implications on a macro level. (See Below)

Why not watch the video below, make up your own minds and feel free to share with us on Twitter via @Myghanaroots.


- There is a boost in self-esteem and confidence for Ghanaians knowing that they can also put together outfits and wear the same brands that their idols from the entertainment world wear.
- Rather than living way beyond their means to purchase such clothing first hand, Ghanaians can benefit from Obruni Wawu
- Creates employment opportunities and entrepreneurial spirit for many who wouldn’t have had the means to trade previously.
- Knowing that the clothes often made by exploited workers in Asia will get a longer life span, will help some people sleep at night.

- The subconscious contribution to the thought many have that everything western is more civilised or more superior to anything African.
- Negative effect on local businesses that can’t compete and therefore will have to stop production of traditional textiles.
- Reliance on west for importing second hand clothes when there is an abundance of home grown talented fashion designers and seamstresses will not get an opportunity to create a fashion industry of any scale.
- Traditional textiles such as Kente (See previous article) are a huge part of Ghanaian history so a decline in this industry will begin to water down Ghanaian culture.
- Despite there being bans against trading second hand underwear, (for hygiene reasons) some still break these laws in pursuit of some quick Cedis

One Response to “VIDEO: “Obroni Wawu”- From Oxford Street to Kumasi Market”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Informative Ghana rocks. Black star ETISIEN!!!!!!!!!!

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