MamaSia reunited in Ghana
Part of the team based in the UK went back to Ghana, hoping to catch some of the harvest season which is normally between April –July. The trip also provided the opportunity to visit the extended family and reconnect with community too.
After a 12 hour journey from Accra, we managed to settle in and adapt to village life.
It was our Commercial Director’s first time visiting Ghana, ironically where her Father’s maternal ancestry hails from. Here is her take on her experience…
Making a the trip to MamaSia’s ancestral home with Co Founder Maame was a wonderfully exhilarating and enlightening experience. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was excited and eager to see first-hand and learn more about our story. The 12 hour coach ride started from 6.30am. It was tough and not for the faint hearted, but an experience I’m glad I endured. Although it wasn’t very comfortable and there was a looming fear from the passengers about potentially being hijacked and the fact my coach got crashed into twice, I got to see the changing landscape and the beauty of Ghana, which not only resides in the natural beauty of the land, but also the different cultures and tribes of people. After 12 hours we arrived at Damango where we had to embark on an hour’s drive in a car that could only hold 5 people that was forcibly packed in with 7 people, so as to maximise profits – good business sense but not good customer service lol! Anyway we had no choice but to agree and suck it up if we wanted to get to our destination. It was pitch black, the driver sped down the dark road dodging goats and other cars, all I could do was hold on for dear life and pray for a safe arrival. Another 30 mins drive from Damango Junction, in a much more spacious vehicle brought us to Larabanga – MamaSia’s ancestral home – at around 8.30pm.
The first thing I noticed was the wonderful community spirit, people were outside cooking, congregating, laughing and there was just a general feel of happiness. As our car approached older children came running up to us to greet us and help us with our bags. As we walked through the village everyone greeted us. There was a specific greeting that everyone said to each other that translated to mean, I hope you are well, and there was a different greetings used in the morning afternoon and evening. Throughout the 3 days that we spent there everywhere you went you saw people greeting each other, looking out for one another, eating together, laughing, and supporting one another and generally taking care of each other. I could see that this community was one big family and later came to learn that everyone was related in one way or another. Seeing this was such a humbling experience, as in this village although they have very little in the way of material items and things we take for granted like clothes, socks and shoes and they live in very modest homes, this village is full of love, joy and happiness. Everyone looks out for one another, they grow lots of produce so they always eat well and they do so together in groups, nobody eats alone, they all help and support each other. For me this was awe-inspiring, because here in the UK you would be luckily if you know your next door neighbour. In Larabanga they speak a language called Kamara and some speak Twi and some of course speak English, but the majority of people speak Kamara so there was a language barrier, with help of MamaSia’s Larabanga operations manager – Alhassan we were able to communicate, however I felt that we were all communicating through are actions of love and appreciation for one another. Alhassan and Baba who is the spiritual elder of the village welcome me into the family community and made me feel so special and I cannot thank them both enough. I gained a new family coming here and it really did feel like a 2nd home.
Another amazing experience was seeing first-hand how our Shea Butter is made in the traditional way, because although I know how, because I learnt the story from Maame, nothing beats first-hand knowledge and partaking in the experience. It is the women who do this hard work and I tell you this is vigorous, strenuous and time consuming. I was in awe of the strength and resilience of these women. From picking the nuts and carrying them on their heads to beating the shells off, to crushing the nuts, chopping the fire wood, boiling the nuts and crushing them again, grinding the Shea, mixing the Shea and the final boiling process, these women put their all into everything that they do, they are thorough and consistent they do not stop until the job is complete, accept of course to sleep as the process takes about 2 days once the nuts have dried for a week in the sun. The women work with their children in tow; whether it be carrying them on their back or the children wanting to help it’s beautiful to see families working together. I cannot put into words how rewarding and fulfilling it was to see this process and to know that when we sell a tub of Shea to understand the hard work that has gone in and to know that we are giving back to our community and working towards giving this village a better future.
I am a changed person since embarking on this trip. I have learnt patience, I have learnt humility, I have learnt to be grateful and not take for granted the things we have access to in the UK and most of all I have learned that inner peace and love is true wealth. I gained a new family that I will cherish and through MamaSia it is not only the mission of the brand, but it is now my personal mission to make sure this village is given the opportunity to thrive and is able to build its own economy and maintain steady growth.
Please check out our Insta Story to see more about our time in Larabanga.