Christiana Ohene-Agyare, Kuapa Kokoo’s first female president, died unexpectedly this Sunday morning in hospital at the age of 54. Known to Kuapa’s 65,000 members as Madam Christiana, the popular leader of Ghana’s largest farmer’s union is credited for her significant achievements in empowering women members. She championed a system of quotas for women across all levels of the union’s governance and saw women’s membership increase to 32% during her time on Kuapa’s National Executive Council (NEC). When she first visited Britain in 2007, she said “being a member of Kuapa Kokoo has taught me that whatever a man can do, a woman can also do and even better.”
Madam Christiana was first elected to the NEC as Kuapa’s Treasurer in 2006, and would go on to win the post of President in 2010. Twin board member Elaine Jones, who first met Madam Christiana as an enthusiastic participant of training workshops in 2005, paid tribute to the leader: “Christiana said to me on many occasions that the training gave her the confidence she needed to aspire to leadership. When I visited Kuapa Kokoo in 2011, I asked her what she would want her legacy to be. She said that she wanted other women farmers to follow in her footsteps and believe in themselves as capable leaders. Madam Christiana was the first woman President of Kuapa Kokoo. May she not be the last.”
Madam Christiana was incredibly proud of Kuapa’s democratic structure, the inclusive participation of its members, and its achievements in setting up Divine Chocolate, which is 45% owned by the cooperative. She said “I am very proud to be a member of a cooperative that co-owns Divine Chocolate. Two members from Kuapa sit on their board. It is unique! I do not know any other organisation in the world that has this kind of business relationship. People all over the world know Kuapa Kokoo because we co-own Divine and we are very proud of our chocolate company. I wish to entreat more people to buy Divine!”
Kuapa’s management has declared a week of mourning for Madam Christiana and Twin joins them and Divine Chocolate in the UK and US in expressing our deepest sympathies to her family and many friends. She will be missed as an iconic leader in the fair trade movement and to all who met her as an inspiring and passionate individual.
To read Kuapa Kokoo’s statement please click here