Welcome to a journey through my diary. Find out what the first steps were in the search for the traditional plant butter "shea butter" (also known as "beurre de karité") from a clear origin. It is a journey with many surprises, learnings, joys, setbacks and insights.
Ever since I got to know shea butter better (thanks sunburn!) and took a closer look at this plant butter, I've been hooked on its effects, Production and history fascinated. Admittedly, I have been fascinated by natural raw materials ever since I completed my training as a farmer, as I have been making my own cosmetics with herbs, oils and waxes ever since. And now a butter! A plant butter with a history! A story that has many parallels to the herbal stories I know from Switzerland. Thanks to the convent women and teachers in my farmer's education!
North Ghana, 2019
Prepare photoshoot, Accra 2018
1. Research stop: Fire station
So we are standing in front of THE fire station, somewhere in the middle of nowhere in the metropolis of Accra. It is morning, but the hot West African sun is already showing its fullness. We are directed by phone to a fire station. We search the streets without success.
Far and wide, the destination is not in sight. But our phone rings again. We are supposed to go to the "Trade Fair". Again we flag down a taxi and negotiate the price. When we arrive at the Trade Fair, we get another call: "Just go to the factory station. Isn't that where we just came from?!? Last but not least, we actually reach our destination. A small house with a shea shop stands in front of us. And behind the house, there is indeed another fire station. But a different one than the one we had located before :-)
The Shea Shop is a small production and sales place of handmade shea butter products. The team of the manufactory is committed to ethical working conditions for the producers in the north of the country. The daughter of the owner shows us the different products. The pure natural shea butter smells great, but the exact place of origin cannot be determined, even after asking several times. It seems to vary. The research continues!
Streets of Accras, 2019
2. Research Stop: Global Mamas
Sweating from the tropical heat (straight from the Swiss winter), we continue along the streets of Accra. Our next stop: Global Mamas Shop in a "hip" district. We are lucky because we meet the owner of the shop and the organisation of the same name. The Global Mamas Shop also has a nice assortment of shea butter products. The owner has over ten years of experience in the shea butter trade. She shows me the challenges, tells me about her personal experiences with different cooperatives and partners and gives me answers to many of my questions. The conversation proved to be very helpful and my knowledge about the shea business expanded a bit again. Let's move on!
«Chop Bar» lunch break
The clock hand is already at 2 pm, urgently time for a lunch break in a "Chop Bar". A "chop bar" is a traditional eatery often found in the south of Ghana. The food is usually served in bowls and eaten by hand. Jollof Rice" and "Fufu with soup" are on our menu. There is a pleasant breeze in the large roofed room and beautiful music sounds from the large loudspeakers. The food tastes excellent and a break for refreshment was urgently needed.
Norden Ghana, 2019
Work situation brainstorming in Accra, 2019
Strengthened, we continue to our next meeting. This takes place in an air-conditioned fitness centre. We are warmly welcomed by the founder of the factory and her mother. The natural cosmetics production was launched in 2014. All this with natural raw materials from the north of Ghana. A real beauty safari for the skin and also for the nose. Every single product is based on a history of ancient Ghanaian traditions. What has been tried and tested often proves itself anew today. The owner tells us a lot about the vastness of the north, about the women in the cooperatives, the shea butter production, the ant hills, the beehives and the baobabs.
She also shows the cultural differences between the south and north of Ghana. For her as a Ghanaian from the south, she explains to us, a completely different world opens up in the north of the country. In order to coordinate her business in the north well, she is supported by a trusted local person.
«It also shows the cultural differences
between the south and north of Ghana.»
Lunch time in nordern Ghanas, 2019
SHEA YEAH Produkte, 2019
The exchange with different people is essential. With every conversation you learn something new. Several more trips to Ghana followed, especially to the north of the country. An important milestone and absolute highlight became the Shea Conference of the Globalen Shea Alliance I had the pleasure of visiting in 2019. Yes, the journey continues...