“Once I was young but now, I am old! Once too many times, I was told; He who brings kola brings life. But now, we say; she, who brings cocoa, brings wealth and health and wellbeing.”
These are opening words from Africaniwa; my lens, our story, on Friday, February 24th, 2023. On our online or call it a virtual mighty clan of tribesmen and tribes women who meet virtually at the last Friday of every month to tell and share human lived experiences stories from around the face of the inhabited earth.
As a clan, these were the words from Africaniwa that motivated us once again to flip open the pages of history to make history. Theobroma Cacao, or simply called cocoa, has a long history which time will fail us to reflect and talk about. But all in all, it is very significant and highly symbolic to us as a people.
In the opening lines above, there are three significant things about cocoa; wealth, health and wellbeing.
Cocoa is wealth! It has contributed significantly to the GDP of Ghana and a host of nations that cultivate it. On the legal thunder of Ghana, for instance, the cocoa is printed on it. It is again imbedded into the 20 pesewas coin of the Ghana cedis. Cocoa signifies wealth.
Cocoa also is health. To the ancient Mayans, it was the best medicine. Today, research has shown that coca has tons and tons of healing properties and nutritional values. To us, it is the blend of this wealth and health that brings about wellbeing.
When word of this ceremony reached us a tribesmen and women, we were very excited. We were excited because something of this sort has never happened before. Cocoa is not common to people in the north because it is not grown in northern Ghana. We use kola in our ceremonies. So breaking cocoa pods came to us as a big inspiration. Each clansman we shared the message with was excited. To this enterprise, we met and agreed to do due diligence and give onto whom honor is due. The first person to share such glad tidings with will be the overload of the Wala Traditional Council, Naa Aljahi Fuseini Pelpuo IV.
On Wednesday, 1st March, 2023, some tribesmen and women alongside children paid a courtesy call to the majestic palace. Having the needful, we were told the Chief in himself was not feeling too well. However, some of his sub-chiefs were ready to meet us. So, in the shed of the palace, the sub-chief stood in his stead and welcomed us. They offered us seat and water after which they broke kola with us, which most of diplomatically declined. After that, they asked for our mission to the palace. We spoke and they were excited and greatly lauded and welcomed the idea. In the end, we presented to them three pods of cocoa. To this effect, we received two different sets of cocao. The first set of cocoa came from Tarkwa Bremang, where we are piloting the project and the next came from Kade.
Monday, 6th March, 2023 was the exact date for the cocoa pod-breaking ceremony. As usual the tribe gathered and did the needful. To us, this has significance and value. Progress begins with the coming together of a people. So with joy and gladness of our hearts we came for the ceremony. Mwintombo, the Messenger Oracle in jeans, led the tribe through a spoken word which eventually ushered the tribe into the cocoa pod-breaking ceremony. The spoken-word started with a people singing the songs of liberation in admiration. It went to acknowledge and pacify its great ancestors who contributed to the growing of cocoa and projected into the future as we being the proud hunters who will eat our game own game. Then it ended with the bumper harvest song:
Sem-plem-plem sempi, sampaa-laalaa sempi,
Sang wagaati le, sang mang-mangalang sanweeh!
As descendants of Red Mother Earth, we are one with nature. We live for the ground, of the ground and by the ground. That is why it was only fitting and proper for us to break our cocoa using nature; smashing against a piece of rock to break it open. We did not use any man-made or foreign tool in this sacred pod-breaking ceremony. Then we passed it on for sacred sharing and tasting by the tribe to affirm our bond as a tribe and to confirm our wealth, health and wellbeing. It was a blissful and memorable experience for us all. And that is how we made history in history.
Today, as we name our children or give out our daughters for marriage, as we celebrate our festivals or other social gatherings, even in funerals, we will break cocoa pods. Cocoa pod breaking will be a very essential part of our culture. We will break pods and share in memory our shared and collective humanity; in memory of our wealth, health and wellbeing.
And as remarked by Lenard, a fellow tribesman of Africaniwa and father of three daughters, he say when his daughters are getting married, of the things he will ask for as bride price, will include three pods of cocoa; signifying wealth, health and wellbeing but also, love, unity and understanding for the new families that coming together.