By Ferdinand Ekechukwu
The West African debut of “Reframed Cocoa & Colour” exhibition organised by LagosPhoto in conjunction with Tony’s Chocolonely and Siza Consulting Ltd, held recently in Lagos, with an opening reception that featured a panel discussion between LagosPhoto and several innovative brand experts, working with cocoa and chocolate in Nigeria.
This maiden exhibition with the theme, “Reframed” in its portfolio”, was such a delight. The panelists during the discussion included Oluwajare Fola-Bolumole, the CEO of Ibadan based ChocBoy, Princess Odiakosa the Founder of Kalabari Gecko and Sanne Steemers, the founder of My36chocolates; a Nigerian chocolate company in Surulere, Lagos.
A social entrepreneur and senior consultant who makes social impact economically viable, Sanne Steemers’ input for Tony’s Chocolonely Reframed; cocoa and colour panel discussion, was integral to exploring the cocoa industry in Nigeria and the region.
They discussed fair trade practices–its permeability, sustainability, and saturation.
Tony’s Chocolonely Change is needed in the cocoa industry, they said, noting that illegal child labour and forced labour are manifestations of the industry’s profit maximising business model in which direct and equal relations between producers, purchasers and consumers have disappeared.
Big chocolate multinationals buy cocoa at the commodity market, without traceability and “this non-transparent way of doing business leads to the quiet acceptation and preservation of inequality, exploitation and extreme poverty.”
Tony’s Chocolonely, a Dutch impact company making chocolate, calls on the industry to follow their Open Chain model with full traceability of cocoa beans and direct, equal business relationships with partner farmers who they pay a higher price. This way, cocoa farmers can achieve a living income and they can hire adult laborers to work at their farms.
An exhibitor Joshua Kissi, a Ghanaian-American photographer who traversed Ghana and Ivory Coast, had “Reframed cocoa and color” images showcased at the exhibition. Meanwhile, the digital expo “Reframed” by Joshua Kissi is open to all, 24/7 at www.tonyschocolonely.com/ reframed-us. The colorful frames off the exhibition symbolise the openness and different perspectives of the people in Tony’s Open Chain.
‘Reframed’ is a digital photo and storytelling expo with the objective to show the impact of direct relationships in the cocoa supply chain. During his journey to the West African countries Kissi met Sarah, Jérôme, Eugénie, Didier, Martin, Assata, Emmanuel, Gaah, Romeo, Faustina, George, Daouda, Abraham and Stephen, noting that they are inspiring, successful, vibrant people working in cocoa in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
“They are ambassadors for a more equally divided cocoa chain without illegal child labor and commercial exploitation. Within Tony’s Open Chain everybody is connected.
“We know exactly who we work with and assess the risks of child labor and forced labor together with the farmer groups. We work directly with our partners and know their unique personalities, skills and stories,” he added.
Joshua Kissi is a Ghanaian-American creative entrepreneur specialising in photography and creative direction, based in New York City. Raised in the Bronx, Kissi grew up with an affinity for the arts and picked up a camera at the age of 17. Kissi and his partner, Travis Gumbs founded Street Etiquette in 2008, a creative agency with the hopes of producing visual content through a cultural, historical and urban lens.
The Street Etiquette has grown an impressive catalog of clients including Apple, Adidas, GQ, Puma and many more.
The week long exhibition, which was open to the public from November 17 to 24th, had surprise performances by upcoming artiste, Idris King on its opening. Through its extended network and capacity building programmes, together with Tony’s Chocolonely, tells the stories of cocoa farmers working in an open chain, from the inside out.