How does the traveller see it?
(Fragment of a post from a Facebook page)
How much for a kilo of tigers?
I bought this painting in Kumasi, the capital of the Ashanti region, in 2018. The artist, Isaac Opoku Badu, was young at the time, the tenth child in his family and now the among the top ten artists in his country.
Once an empire, Ashanti is now part of the Republic of Ghana – formerly known as the “Gold Coast”. Ships filled with gold and slaves would depart from the port of Elmina and sail to all corners of the Earth. At the Royal Palace, I asked a local guide why the kings of Ashanti, who had created such a powerful state, let their subjects be hauled away into slavery. His answer stunned me: the Ashanti were never slaves, but rather sold slaves. My guide from Togo (an ethnic Ewe) nodded his head, though he did not enjoy hearing this piece of historical background. The Yoruba people cost more than the Ewe, added the local Ashanti guide.
Let’s get back to the sale of snails drawn on the canvas. In the English-speaking country of Ghana they’re called “tigers”, clearly because of their yellow-striped coloring. Giant snails are a key source of food and exports for the country; literal tons of these snails are exported to the United States and Europe. It’s like a startup, Ghanean style, or a tutorial on how to become a millionaire: buy 100 snails and in a year, you’ll have 5000!
Making money through cryptocurrency? Pssh.