Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sweet or Salty?

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On March 6, 1957, Ghana became the first African colony to be granted independence in the post WW II era.  Prior to that date the country was a colony of Great Britain called the Gold Coast.  Beginning in the 1400's with the Portuguese, who were aware of the gold coming out of this area and moving north by caravan across the Sahara, thought it would be easier to get closer to the source of the gold by a sea route than attempting to control the caravans routes.  Followed by the Dutch, Danish and English, the colony eventually became know as the Gold Coast.  Gold is still one of Ghana's exports, but the photograph shows two that you may enjoy but not know come out of Ghana.  On the left is a cocoa bean taken off a drying tray on my back porch and the right is a cashew fruit with its gray nut pod that I picked from a tree near the school where I teach.    Cocoa is huge.  Ghana is the second largest exporter in the world, most of the product going to Europe and the US for chocolate.   Peace Corps volunteers are involved with Ghanian farmers in improving the logistics management chain of the cashew to expand that desirable product. 

This is the end of the season for both crops, which are grown in groves on the hills surrounding the village and in other parts of Ghana.   Lots of hand labor to harvest from many small groves, then sold to local buyers in the village, and on to larger cooperatives and exporters.  

Like some other countries I have lived, Ghana is full of contrasts.  All adults seem to have a cell phone and use it everywhere,  frequently.    Vehicles of all types are in abundance and have already overwhelmed the capacity of the roadways, particularly in cities, as well as the maintenance required to keep them up.  Building construction is everywhere, some underway, others stopped and still others seemingly abandoned.  Western styles are popular, mixed with the very colorful, traditional dress of the Ghanian women, and the noble looking robe worn on special occasion by some of the men.   Seems little is thrown out as I have seen yards and yards full of used vehicle engines, next to yards full of auto doors.  Never get bored looking out the window on a bus ride.

I cannot afford a stash of  chocolate or salted cashews at my house and certainly not gold.   When you enjoy the beauty of gold or the delicious taste of  sweet chocolate or salty cashews, hope you will be reminded of this interesting country where I live.

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