THE Akuafo (farmers) Hall of the University of Ghana, Legon, at the weekend rolled out a spectacular show of dance, music, culture and military colours to honour one of the most distinguished sons of Ghana, Tetteh Quarshie.
The culture jamboree was further enhanced by the presence of rulers and their retinues from two traditional areas: Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, the Osu Mantse and a representative of the Akwapimhene, Nana Addo Dankwa III.
It was to present “the most prestigious Nyansakuku Award” to surviving grand-daughter of the man whose 19th century voyage to Fernando Po was to lead to a dramatic transformation of the Ghanaian economy.
In addition to the main event, displays by Abibigoromma, Adinkra Cultural Troupe and a navy parade by the Akuafo Hall cadet corps, provided the ideal ambience for the celebration of cocoa and its herd in Ghana.
The citation to the award affirmed the place of Tetteh Quarshie in the history of Ghana, stating that “in the history of Ghana, you made the singular most singular most significant contribution to the economy by introducing the golden pod”.
“Your voyage to Fernando Po did not only create a reliable source of foreign exchange for Ghana but also created a source of capital to lay the foundations of intellectual development in this country”.
“Indeed, the name Tetteh Quarshie is synonymous with cocoa, and cocoa with Ghana; thereby providing us with an authentic national identity”, he added.
Presenting the award to the old lady, the Osu Mantse said it was his singular pride and delight to present an award to a native of his land, Osu, who by the second half of the 19th century, had set his sights beyond tribe and dedicated himself to the national good.
Speaking in Ga, the Osu Mantse said because of Tetteh Quarshie’s nationalists outlook, he reached beyond the limitations of his immediate environment to establish in Mampong Akwapim, the first commercial cocoa farm in main land Africa, when the land at Osu proved unsuitable.
Nii Dowuona VI wished Madam Korlei good health and God’s guidance.
Receiving the Nyansakuku Award on behalf of her grandfather, the 105-year old lady recited some lines from history and sang in praise of god. She was accompanied to the stage by her family of 23 comprising children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
She is the only surviving member of four siblings and two of her four children are deceased leaving her with Madam Aklerh (78 years old) and Nii Naarku (73yrs.) who accompanied her to Saturday’s function.
Leading the entourage was the head of family, Mr. S.T. Annan, who thanked the student leadership for the honour and noted that throughout her life, Madam Korlei had been living with an emotional pain that for a long time, the truth about Tetteh Quarshie’s roots and off-springs had been distorted.
Mr. Annan assured the gathering that even as it comes in this twilight of her life, Madam Korlei will cherish this recognision and honour done to her grandfather and called on other cocoa-related institutions to follow the students’ example and correct earlier mistakes by directing whatever is due Tetteh Quarshie to the appropriate family.
Tetteh Quarshie’s daughter Odoley, had four daughters namely Dey, Shorme, Korlei and Ashiokai. Three are deceased but Korlei who received the honour last Saturday lives at the Castle area of Osu, popularly referred to as Tolon Monaa.
Born in 1842, Tetteh Quarshie traveled to Fernando Po in 1870 as a 28-year-old blacksmith and returned six years later with several pods of cocoa.
After initial unsuccessful attempts to cultivate the beans in his native Accra, and upon advice from agric experts, he moved to Mampong on the Akwapim mountains where he planted the first seeds with some success.
Following the initial success and the establishment of a 0.789 acre farm at Mampong, he distributed some of the seeds to friends and relatives who joined him in his new mission and soon other farmers followed suit.
From there, cocoa beans or cuttings spread to other countries like Nigeria and Sierra Leone. At the peak of its production, Ghana provided almost half of the world’s cocoa output. Between 1910 and 1980 Ghana was the world’s largest exporter of the crop, a position it ceded to Cote d’Ivore due to smuggling among other things. That notwithstanding, Ghana’s cocoa is still of the highest quality and the country earns hundreds of millions of dollars annually from the export of the beans and processed materials.