Salomey Adu

Before Marriage, Salomey Knew Nothing about Cocoa Farming

About 37 kilometers northeast of Accra, Ghana’s capital, lies Nsawam – a bustling town renowned for its vibrant market in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Surrounded by lush green hills, Nsawam is a key hub for agricultural produce.

In the mid-80s, Salomey Adu, the eldest of seven, lived and worked here as a seamstress.

Her father had envisioned her becoming an educated woman and benefiting from the wide-spreading educational opportunities in post-independence Ghana.

But the young girl would always flee from class to play with other school-loathing friends amidst the mango and cocoa trees that dotted the landscape.

All attempts at keeping her in school failed, and after 3 years of primary school, she quit.

In that era, when you didn’t go to school, you acquired a skill. Salomey mastered dressmaking. And that was how she met her would-be sister-in-law who introduced her to her eventual husband – a cocoa farmer.

Salomey married and moved in with her husband to Asamankese, a town nestled in the lush green forests about 50 kilometers from Nsawam. With fertile soil and abundant rainfall, it is an ideal location for cocoa farming.

Asamankese, Ghana

As a farmer’s wife, she had to support activities on the farm. Initially, she didn’t know how to do farm work, but she was eager to learn, and her husband was willing to teach.

She learned to grow cassava, maize, and (of course) tend to cocoa on their farm in Topease, a farming community nestled amidst the lush landscapes near Asamankese.

The farm was too far from Asamankese, so the couple made a shelter on it, often staying there for weeks to work. Slowly Topease became more of a home than Asamankese.

After 30 years of marriage, Salomey’s husband fell ill. Unfortunately, he never recovered.

That was 8 years ago.

Today, Salomey lives in the Topease community with the only child she could bear, a daughter, Akosua.

At 70, she still tends to her cocoa farm and the proceeds sustain both.

Farming is hard work, and Salomey, now 70 is not young anymore. Is she able to manage the work?

She insists she does the work, and even invites me to come and see her in action!

Fortunately, she can lean on the younger men who live around for support. Many of them have known her since childhood and are fond of her. One of them, Amponsah, often goes to sell her cocoa for her when it’s dry.

Salome with one of the young men in Topease

Reflecting on her lack of education, the old woman said, “If I had gone to school, I may have become a great woman. But perhaps I wouldn’t be alive today. So I am grateful.”

Maybe, one day, Salomey will return to Nsawam, to the familiar town of her childhood. Her siblings keep asking her to come home.

For now, she wants to stay here in Topease. Just a little bit more.

Thank you for reading this story. It means a lot to me.

If you have any questions, please connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to hear from you.

❤️: Benjamin Setor

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Credit: Calvin Osei Tenkorang and Erasmus Ablernah helped improve this story. I am grateful to them.

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