Former American President, Abraham Lincoln was the one who said “a nation that does not honour its heroes is not worth dying for.”
It is mind boggling how as a nation we cannot identify one single memorable date in the life of Tetteh Quarshie , the man who brought cocoa to Ghana to institute as National Chocolate Day.
Instead we are rather using our cocoa to honour the day of this Roman fertility cult called cupid. How long, Ghana can we continue saluting the imperialists in disguise.
When we go annually for these cocoa syndicated loans of more than one billion US Dollars which supports our foreign exchange needs, we need to remember that it took the daring spirit of one man who managed to smuggle cocoa beans from Fernando Po (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea) to make our country the home of the best quality cocoa beans the whole world over.
There are millions of jobs created along the value chain of the cocoa industry, from farm-hands, through truck loaders, purchasing companies and their clerks, among many others; so from the farmstead right into the maritime industry the singular effort of one almost forgotten Ghanaian has been instrumental in providing livelihoods for millions.
Millions of Ghanaians have also benefitted from the Cocoa Marketing Board (CMB) scholarships to go through secondary school; today thousands of kilometers of roads are done under the Cocoa Roads project; There are cocoa processing companies now processing locally some of the beans produced in the country which is a major employment avenue for our compatriots.
Indeed the colonial governors saw it fit to build a hospital in Akwapim Mampong where Tetteh Quarshie lived and planted his first cocoa plantation; but the only thing we have added to it is the traffic-ridden single-tier bridge at the Tetteh Quarshie Round-about.
Today, oil drilling vessels are being named after former heads of state, whose contribution to Ghana’s development is being appreciated. If these heads of state who leave office on their salaries paid from the revenue generated by taxing Ghanaians punitively are even being honoured with such memorials, how much more a generational thinker like Tetteh Quarshie?
Just for playing football for the nation and winning nothing most of the times, our footballers think they must be deified.
During the 2014 World Cup tournament money had to be air-lifted from Ghana to Brazil as the players were taking the whole nation to ransom over play bonuses, which nauseating incident played out again during the just ended Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Tournament in Gabon, albeit in a different form and millions of dollars are spent on people for just kicking the rotund leather.
In recent times Ghanaians have developed the penchant for taking the nation to court on the basis of some contractual agreements gone bad and punitive Judgment Debts are awarded by our courts to some of these companies and individuals, scraping the bottom of the state coffers.
It is so sad how some Ghanaian lawyers even side with foreign companies and phony ones in some cases to extract huge Judgement Debts from the country for some nebulous deals that our leaders realize too late are not in the interest of the state and therefore cancel them.
However, many of such characters are held in highest regards in the public space, because they happen to find themselves in the ‘right’ associations and can also doll out some money to buy media space.
We pay ex-gratia to our Article 71 public office holders for a number of years they have served this country, during which time too their expenditures were responsibilities of the state.
But here was a patriot who foresaw what cocoa could do for the nation, and like J.F Kennedy who won’t ask what his country could do for him, but what he could do for his country, risked everything to bring cocoa to our shores, planted, nurtured and delivered the golden pods with their beans to us.
Indeed, some heads of state would like to be honoured for oil discovery under their regimes, while others would also like to be recognized for having the vision for oil exploration in Ghana. But all these are resources already deposited within our territory by God.
However, for cocoa, it took an uneducated farmer and Blacksmith to bring this to us and by that singular act gave Ghana a firm economic foundation.
Why then is such a patriot ignored for so long?; and to rub salt in an already painful sore, we have chosen February 14 as National Chocolate Day. Oh, how for once, I wish ghosts had some power in them to fight each other; so the ghost of Tetteh Quarshie can whip that of Jake Obetsebi Lamptey under whose tenure in 2007 the gargantuan anomaly was commited with this ill-informed fixing National Chocolate Day on February 14.
Let’s just compare how much tourism Ghana can generate in celebrating Chocolate Day on February 14 which is the same day Valentine Day is celebrated, and how much more tourism can be generated if we institute a Tetteh Quarshie led Chocolate Week celebration in Ghana.
As part of such a celebration trips may be organized to Mampong to see the original cocoa tree planted by the patriot and other important landmarks surrounding his enterprise. This can make Mampong itself a tourism destination as the cradle of Ghana’s cocoa industry.
From that alone, enough revenue could be generated to take care of the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital in Mampong, and offer various educational scholarships to the offsprings of this great son and father of the soil.
The history of the man who brought cocoa to Ghana is full of important milestones which can be put together in a documentary to honour his memory
Now is the time to find a befitting honour for Tetteh Quarshie, the patriot whose contribution to the nationhood of Ghana surpasses all others.
Using our chocolate to honour the Roman fertility deity called cupid or whatever people celebrate in Valentine is an insult to the memory of Tetteh Quarshie.
Brief history, courtesy (Wikipedia and http://www.ghanaculture.gov.gh/)
History has it that the man Tetteh Quarshie was born in 1842 to a farmer from Teshie known as Mlekubo. His mother was known as Ashong-Fio from Labadi, both hailing from the Ga-Dangme ethnic group. In his teens Tetteh Quarshie became an apprentice in a Basel Mission workshop at Akropong. Due to his hard work he soon became a master blacksmith and was in fact the first blacksmith to be established at Akuapim-Mampong.His hobby was farming.
In 1870, Tetteh Quarshie undertook a voyage to the Spanish colony Fernando Po (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea) with his European masters from the Christianbourg Castle About six years later he returned to Ghana with several cocoa beans (the Amelonado) and made history. Enditem