In 2009, Divine’s Communications Director Charlotte Borger travelled to Ghana for meetings with Kuapa Kokoo. At the time, Divine was working on facilitating more synergy in communications between Ghana, UK, and the USA. She also had an update on the workshops Kuapa had been running on climate change. Finally, she met with Comfort Kumeah, the Chair of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Trust, in Comfort’s village an hour west of the city of Kumasi. Read on below to learn more about Charlotte’s experience visiting Comfort.
Many people in the UK and the USA may remember meeting Comfort; she's become a well-travelled ambassador for Kuapa Kokoo and Divine. She has shared her learning about the chocolate market and attitudes to ethical shopping with her colleagues and community back in Ghana.
There was a big funeral and a big wedding going on in the village on the same day, so everyone was dressed up - either in black for the funeral or in their Sunday best for the wedding. Funerals are a very big deal in Ghana - with people all but bankrupting themselves to buy a good coffin, put on a good ceremony, and invite the whole community. Within minutes of arriving, all the kids in the village were excitedly drawing us pictures of what they had been doing at school - lots of detailed diagrams of plants (particularly cocoa trees) with all their parts clearly labelled.
We spent most of the day on Comfort's farm which was about a mile and a half walk out of the village. We had to wait until Saturday to go because there is a taboo preventing women from crossing the stream between the village and her farm on Fridays. It was a beautiful walk, and we were thankful for the rain boots we'd been given -- at the bottom of the valley it was pretty muddy because there had been some heavy downpours.
We walked around the farm, and Comfort pointed out the boundaries marked by evergreen bushes and sometimes with pineapples. The harvest was well and truly underway, with the first batch of ripe pods already mostly picked - and the next wave was starting to turn yellow. There was a particular good distribution of tall rainforest trees across Comfort's farm, giving the right amount of shade and protection above the cocoa trees.
We had chicken, tilapia, plantain, and jollof rice for lunch with some very good spicy sauces. Comfort showed us some 'sweet apples' - some very nobbly fruits about the size of a small melon. [Upon returning home, I tried to look them up, but couldn’t find what they were.] For after, we handed out chocolate bars and chocolate gold coins from Divine for everyone. We left with everyone preparing for the evening's parties and were sent off with all the drawings the children had done.
Back in Accra, waiting for our flight home, we saw a glimpse of a different slice of Ghanaian life - a cosmopolitan group of young Ghanaian students, Lebanese businessmen, NGO representatives, and diplomats' wives and families. They were all enjoying a day off sitting around a swimming pool.