…His achievement must be an inspiration to all
One of the objectives of Ghana Month or Heritage Month is to encourage the patronage of made in Ghana goods and the wearing of Ghanaian dresses. Moving around town in this Heritage Month, I’m sad to say I don’t see many people wearing African clothing. Many people attribute their inability to patronise these clothing to the high cost of locally made fabrics and the high cost of sewing. Nevertheless, we must try our best, and hopefully we shall succeed.
Media has always done well to promote the campaign, leading by example. For some, this has been an opportunity to travel around the country, promoting our culture and tourism potentials. In this month, we also need to remember some of Ghana’s great men and women whose contributions have led to some attractions being named after them. We can begin with our first President Dr. Nkrumah. However, today the focus is on Tetteh Quarshie. Cocoa production has been the backbone of our economy since the 1870s. It dominates the agricultural sector and contributes about 30 percent of the country’s export earnings. Cocoa employs a high number of farmers directly. It also supports the livelihoods of others in the commerce, service and industrial sectors of the Ghanaian economy. This makes it an important generator of revenue. Without cocoa, our economy would suffer. We shall forever be grateful to the one man who first brought cocoa to Ghana. It is reported that he travelled from Ghana to Fernando Po, current day Equatorial Guinea, where he lived for 50 years before returning home with some cocoa beans. Tetteh Quarshie was born in 1842 to a farmer from Teshie known as Mlekuboi and his mother was known as Ashong-Fio from Labadi – both hailing from the Ga-Dangme ethnic group. Tetteh Quarshie served as an apprentice in a blacksmith’s shop at Akropong, belonging to the Basel missionaries. Due to his hard work, he soon became a master blacksmith. Tetteh Quarshie was, in fact, the first blacksmith to be established at Akwapim-Mampong. His hobby was farming. There are different stories told about how he brought in the cocoa beans. What matters is that today the cocoa beans are here and helping the Ghanaian economy. In 1879, Tetteh Quarshie planted the seeds at Mampong, with some success. Friends and relatives also undertook the planting of cocoa when pods were distributed to them. Soon, other farmers followed suit. It was at this point that the Basel missionaries stepped into the picture by importing large quantities of the crop into the country. From the Gold Coast (Ghana), cocoa beans or cuttings were sent to other countries like Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The actual export of cocoa from Ghana began in 1891, but the official export was carried out in 1893, with two bags exported. Ghana once provided almost half of world output. Between 1910 and 1980 Ghana was the world’s largest exporter. This position was ceded due to bush fires, etc. However, 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.
Tetteh Quarshie died in 1892. His relatives made a petition to the Gold Coast Government on February 25, 1925, for a grant for the upkeep of some of Tetteh Quarshie’s relatives. The then Ghanaian Vice-Principal of Achimota College, Dr. J.E.K. Aggrey, strenuously took up the appeal. His friend, Sir Gordon Guggisberg, set up the Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Scholarship at Achimota College. Other honours were bestowed on him. Another petition was made in 1927 and the government gave a sum of only 250 pounds, although Nana Sir Ofori Atta, speaking in the Legislative Council, asked for 2,500 pounds, supported by Kojo Thompson.
As the late Ghanaian Lawyer and Anthropologist, Dr. Isaac Ephson, says in his ‘Gallery of Gold Coast Celebrities’ (p. 64):
“This took the form of a more enduring memorial, which was set up at Achimota, in honour of the pioneer of Ghana’s staple crop and the principal bulwark of the country’s economy. The memorial is Tetteh Quarshie House. And after Independence (1957), the Government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, after petitions from Dr. J.B. Danquah and the Eastern Region House of Chiefs, built a first-class hospital and fittingly named it after him at Mampong-Akwapim – Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital. There’s also the Tetteh Quarshie Farm, where tourists visit to see the location where the first seedling was planted in Ghana. Relics and important artifacts used by him is also on display at the museum, located on the farm. Another important edifice named after him is the former Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout, now named Tetteh Quarshie Interchange. Prior to the interchange, there were claims that the roundabout was the biggest and largest in West Africa. We must remember that we shall not be remembered by the things we acquire in this life, but by the legacy we live behind. What will you be remembered for? What are you doing for Mother Ghana? Are you only a spectator or a contributor to making our motherland better than we met? As we ponder on these words, we must always remember that we live to leave behind a legacy. Tetteh Quarshie did his part and today, his name lives on even though he is dead. Let’s ponder on the words of the song which follows.
‘Arise Ghana youths for your country, the nation demands your devotion,
let us all unite to uphold her and make her great and strong.
We are all involved, we are all involved to build our motherland.’
Again, we owe a pledge to Ghana. Let’s reflect on the words of The National Pledge.
I promise on my honour to be faithful and loyal to Ghana my Motherland.
I pledge myself to the service of Ghana with all my strength and with all my heart.
I promise to hold in high esteem our heritage won for us through the blood and toil of our fathers; and I pledge myself in all things to uphold and defend the good name of Ghana.
So help me God.
Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer/Trainer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd., a tourism destinations management and marketing company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to [email protected] / [email protected]. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901. Visit our social media sites – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations