THIS IS REALLY ABOUT DIANA ADUBEA
I will tell you about Diana Adubea, my wife of six years. But that’s a little later. First, I will tell you about my children. People say their children are adorable, but I will tell you that Bismark Amoani’s children are very adorable. My son is Gyekye Bryan Amoani. Then there is Phedelia Henaku Amoani, my daughter. Great children and I'm not just saying this because they are Bismark Amoani’s children. They are. You should meet them - but not too early because they don't rise early.
I rise early, before everybody in the household. We live in a decent apartment in Suhum, Eastern Region of Ghana. If you stand at our window, you will see the heads of crops and buildings and trees. It's a nice place to raise children. It's a nice place to be a human being. And certainly, a nice place to grow cocoa.
Oh, I might not have introduced myself. Excuse my unbecoming manners! My name is Bismark Amoani, 33 years old, last born in a family of five. And yes, those adorable children are mine.
I’m a full-time farmer with a degree in economics from the University of Cape Coast. My degree in economics has little impact on my farming, in case you are wondering. But then even as a child I never saw myself sitting in an office, answering the phones and reading memos from the boss. I grew up on a farm, my parents were farmers, my neighbours were farmers, lots of my relatives farmed. I always knew that farming was my calling. Farming is about curiosity, consistency, a strong back and the ability to rise early before Gyekye, Phedelia and Diana Adubea, who I still promise to come back to in good time.
At 6 am, my neighbourhood of Suhum is calm. After washing my face, I get into my farm clothes; longhands, or what you might know as a long-sleeved shirt and trousers. I then pull on my well-worn wellington boots and grab my machete on my way out. A good farmer deserves a good machete or it the other way round? You've noticed that I haven't had breakfast. That's because there is no breakfast at that time. It's 6 am and Diana Adubea is yet to rise with our adorable offsprings.
I step out into the morning chill. If I stand still and focus, I can smell the dew on the leaves. I set off on foot. My farm isn't so far from where I live. I stick to the footpath. Sometimes, on a rare occasion, I will run into stray dogs, I've seen a snake once. Most times its other farmers with their machetes, headed to their farms. At this early hour of the morning, nobody wants to stop and chat so, I will raise my machete and say, “Maakye!” in greeting. If it’s a fellow man he will raise his machete and reply, “Yaaja!” If it’s a lady, she will say, “Maakye” and I will raise my machete and say, “Yaaena.” Note; the act of raising the machete isn’t symbolic. It’s just a machete.
At the farm, I start my work. It's three acres of cocoa but I also do intercrop growing yams, bananas, and plantains. Only a fool farmer relies on cocoa exclusively. I'm not a fool farmer, I'm an elite farmer. At least that's what my peers call me. I work silently, my mind is empty of any thoughts. I chop or I prune or I weed. Unless it's harvesting season, I don't employ labourers. I only lift my head to catch my breath.
Cocoa is a seasonal crop, we have the main and light season. If you are not smart, you will struggle as a cocoa farmer in the light season if you don’t grow other crops. I never sell my cocoa as soon as I harvest, because it doesn’t fetch much. I keep it away. So September to January I store my cocoa, then when the season is down I sell it. The money comes in bulk, enough to do bulk things. A good harvest can fetch me 15 bags and one bag is 515 Ghanaian Cedi. (89USD) Often I get to harvest something like 30 bags. You do the math.
Sometimes I will take a short break to take a leak in a bush, machete in hand. A good farmer doesn’t let go of his machete. Am I a successful farmer? I have built my mother a six-bedroom house from farming in Nsawam.
I’m a successful farmer because I treat it as a business. I also get a lot of insight from the workshops Fairtrade organises on good agricultural practices, avoidance of usage of pesticides and the works isn't too bad. They have taught us through VSLA (Village Savings and Loan Association) how to manage the money we make.
At 9 am I walk back home. Gyekye, Phedelia and Diana Adubea are already gone to school and work. (Don’t worry, I still remember to tell you about Diana Adubea). I find breakfast covered in the kitchen. It could be porridge and bread or Tomboy - fried maize, groundnuts and beans, prepared like porridge. After breakfast, I jump on my motorbike and head out to see my mom’s farm 3 km away in Nsawam where I keep 30 goats which I feed daily. Lunchtime I eat with my mom (dad passed on). She mostly makes my favourite; Banku and Okro stew. Banku is corn prepared with cassava. Okro stew is vegetables.
There is not much to do after a meal like this, even for a machete-wielding elite farmer like me. I will normally go to the roadside where I will meet my peers. We will sit under a tree and shoot the breeze. At 3 pm I will go back to my mom's and feed the goats again. Goats are always eating. They are like children. At 4:30 pm I will gun my motorbike and ride back to my place in Suhum where I will see my family after a day out at work and school.
Diana Adubea and I grew up in the same community called Nsuta Wawasi. We fell in love at some point. I always knew she was wife material. Wife material is a woman who doesn't waste resources, genuinely cares for me and can help me raise a family. I wasn't wrong.
After finishing high school together (we attended the same school), and because we didn't have funds to proceed to university, she told me, "you go first, I will support you until you finish. Then you can support me." So I went to university and she would work hard and chip in for my school fees. I finished my degree in economics and it was her turn to go to nursing school. I farmed and sold cocoa and plantain and yams to help pay for her school fees until she finished nursing. Then we got married. Then we got kids; Gyekye Bryan Amoani and Phedelia Henaku Amoani. That’s the kind of person Diana Adubea is.
So you see, I can’t speak about cocoa without speaking about Diana Adubea.