January 2013 Live It! Project Report
Leah Plummer, The Nyame Tsease Bakery Project, Cape Coast, Ghana
The Nyame Tsease Bakery project intended to start a cooperative bakery with Nyame Tsease African Traditionals in Cape Coast, Ghana. Nyame Tsease African Traditionals is a traditional drum and dance group located in Cape Coast. Antoinette Adwoa Kudoto, Ghana’s only female master drummer, leads the group. Most of the group’s twelve members live on the streets, do not have stable sources of food or income, and therefore have trouble supporting themselves and their families. They expressed that they would like to start a bakery in order to bring stability to< themselves individually and to the group as a whole. Our project sought to establish the cooperative bakery they envisioned and to thoroughly document the process.
Over the four weeks I spent in Ghana during the 2012-2013 holiday season, we were fortunate enough to accomplish all of the project goals. By the time I left in mid-January, we had refurbished the bakery space and structures, purchased all of theinfrastructural necessities, and produced a number of batches of bread that sold out rapidly. Nyame Tsease wanted to bake both Ghanaian bread and international bread, so we even found a way to make American recipes like carrot cake and Challah bread with Ghanaian ingredients. I was also able to take ample pictures and make good quality recordings of Nyame Tsease singing. The group set up a sustainable rotation for working in the bakery that involves all of the members.
Predictably, there were aspects of the proposed project that changed once we began work. Most notably, the budget changed substantially. We reallocated the money to accommodate for rising prices and items we had not realized we needed to buy. For example, as we refurbished the bakery space, we realized we needed to purchase a canopy to cover the open space so debris from the overhanging tree would not fall into the dough. Additionally, we had not known about the ceremonial aspect of opening a business in Ghana. We ended up needing to purchase oil and food for the traditional anointing prayer and following meal needed to inaugurate the bakery. As alluded to in the last example, I quickly learned that I needed to be flexible in order for the project to be a success. I was clear with the group that the amount of money we had to spend was fixed, but we could reorganize the budget as needed. This attitude allowed for the money to be spent as wisely as possible. Above all, I took away from this project the importance of fostering a relationship of mutual respect and appreciation with Nyame Tsease. When I returned this winter, a few members had left the group and new ones joined. By making an effort to get to know these new members and strengthening my relationship with old ones and Antoinette, I was able to create more meaningful connections that were personally fulfilling and made the project more successful.