Tetteh Quarshie was born in 1842 to Ghanaian parents who hailed from the Ga-Dangme ethnic group. His father was a farmer known as Mlekuboi, from Teshie. His mother, Ashong-Fio, hailed from Labadi
He was the second of the couple’s two sons but the elder son, Odai, died while they were still very young and not long after that their mother, Atswei, also died. Tetteh Quarshie’s father, Ashong, then married another woman, Auntie Nkpa, who also bore him a son named Odai Din (later the head of Odoi Din We at La). Not long after the birth of Odoi Din, their father Numo Ashong also died subsequent to which Auntie Nkpa re-married and moved into her new husband’s home.
CAREER AND MID-LIFE
Tetteh Quarshie, who gained prominence for being an agriculturalist, was in fact the first blacksmith to be established at Akwapim-Mampong. He served as an apprentice in a Blacksmith’s shop at Akropong belonging to the Basel Missionaries. By dint of hard work, he soon became a Master Blacksmith. Farming was his hobby, which he adopted very seriously.
He is directly responsible for the introduction of cocoa crops to Ghana, which today constitutes one of the major export crops of the Ghanaian economy. Quarshie traveled to the Island of Fernando Po (now Bioko in Equatorial Guinea) in 1870 and returned to Ghana in 1876, to introduce the crop. Hitherto, palm-oil and rubber were the main staple industries in Ghana.
For some time the million dollar question that laid on people’s minds has been, whether Tetteh Quarshie was really the first person to introduce cocoa to Ghana?
This question was asked during the administration of Sir Gordon Guggisberg, (the British Governor of the Gold Coast from 1919-1927). Sir William Brandford Griffith, (Governor of the Gold Coast in 1880 and 1885) claimed it was his father, Sir W. Brandford Griffith who deserved that honor.
The Basel Missionaries also claimed to have experimented with the cocoa beans in Ghana as noted in their diaries. Sir Gordon Guggisberg, therefore, decided to fully investigate the various claims. As noted in D.H. Simpson’s Gold Coast Men of Affairs, (p. 208);
“Sir Gordon Guggisberg, who carefully went into the matter, made the following three discoveries: the fact that Government found it necessary many a time to institute inquiries is ipso facto proof that cocoa first found its way into the Gold Coast through a channel rather than Government; that it was impossible that the Gold Coast Government could have failed to record or to give credit to such a distinguished personage as the late Governor Griffith if he were responsible for the introduction of cocoa into the colony; and finally, it was not likely that such responsible Officers as Mr. Gerald C. Dudgeon, Superintendent of Agriculture, and the late Mr.W.S.D. Tudhope, Director of Agriculture, would report that cocoa was first brought into the Gold Coast by Tetteh Quarshie without exhaustive inquiry having been previously made – a fact which is recognized by the Gold Coast Board of Education who have associated Tetteh Quarshie’s name with cocoa.”
In 1879, Tetteh Quarshie planted the cocoa seeds at Mampong with some success. Friends and relatives of his also undertook the planting of cocoa when pods were distributed to them.
Soon other farmers followed suit. It was only 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, such as Nigeria and Sierra Leone. The first shipment of cocoa from the Gold Coast was made in 1885. However, the first documented shipment of cocoa from Ghana was in January, 1893 when 2 bags were sent from Accra to Hamburg at an invoice value of £215.7. This shipment was made along with 18 bags of coffee.
The volume of cocoa export grew rapidly to 20,000 metric tonnes in 1908, and by 1911 Ghana was the world’s leading cocoa producer, with 41,000 metric tonnes. In the early 1920’s, Ghana produced 165,000, 213,000 metric tonnes, and contributed about 40% of the total world output. By 1980, she was the world’s largest exporter.
However, this position was ceded due to bush fires etc. Nevertheless, Ghana’s cocoa is still of the highest quality and the country earns hundreds of millions dollars annually from the export of beans and processed materials.
Aside of work and adventure, Tetteh Quarshie met Dede, a young lady in Osu whose parents had settled there from the village of Jamaaku in Ningo, East of Accra. And it was with Dede that Tetteh Quarshie had his only child, a daughter he named Odoley.
After his death, some of Tetteh Quarshie relatives made a petition to the Gold Coast Government on February 25th, 1925 for grant for the upkeep of some of relatives. The then Ghanaian Vice Principal of Achimota College, Dr. J.E Aggrey, strenuously took up the appeal.
His friend, Sir Gordon Guggisberg set the Tetteh Quarshie Memor Scholarship at Achimota College. to honor him.
Another petition was made in 1927 and Government gave a sum of only 250 pounds, although Nana Sir Ofori Atta (supported by Kojo Thompson), speaking in the Legislative Council, asked for 2,500 pounds.
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 – Tetteh Quarshie House- 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.
Since Independence, (1957) the Government of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah after petitions from Dr. J. B. Danquah and the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, has built a first class hospital and fittingly named it after him at Mampong-Akwapim – Tetteh Quarshie Memorial Hospital.
The Tetteh Quarshie Inter Change (formerly known as Tetteh Quarshie Round about), is also an honor to him..
Source: GraphicOnline, Ghanagrio, Wikipeda