Kuapa Kokoo women hone their batik and tie-dye skills

21 September 2011

Seth Gogoe of Twin sporting his Amankwatia batik shirt

While we were in Ghana for the Kuapa Kokoo AGM, Sophi and I met up with the new Gender Policy manager Monica Aidoo-Dadzie. She joined six months ago and has already visited all 46 Kuapa Women’s groups and will be working closely with them.  In her office she had some wonderful samples of batik made by the Amankwatia Women’s Group (I remember meeting them on one of my first trips – now their leader Juliana Fremah is on the National Executive – I knew she was destined for great things!).

Sophi in her Kuapa print suit, KK President Christiana Ohene-Agyare in a magnificent Kente dress, and me in the dress made from Amankwatia batik

We ended up buying two shirts (see Seth from Twin wearing one of them here), Sophi bought a dress (here she is wearing it when she planted a cocoa tree at New Koforidua), and I bought some fabric, which the local miracle seamstresses transformed into a dress overnight that I could wear to the AGM.  Most of the pieces we saw feature the West African Adinkra symbols you can also see on Divine packaging. There were lots of other designs and styles – we think they have great potential….. hope that with a little more development and marketing they can sell more in Ghana – and beyond.

Sophi in her Amankwatia dress looking at cocoa seedlings

Adinkras in art get a modern and human twist

16 September 2011

Latest update from Tom Allen:

Artwork from Owusu-Ankomah's exhibition at the October Gallery

Last night I went to the private view of a new art exhibition by renowned Ghanaian artist Owusu-Ankomah at the October Gallery in central London. Divine was sponsoring the evening with some very well-received chocolate.

Owusu-Ankomah’s paintings depict monumental human figures moving within an ocean of signs, and they make particular use of Ghanaian adinkra symbols. The West African adinkra symbols are like proverbs in visual form, and were traditionally printed on fabric though they now find their way on to all sorts of other canvases – like the wrappers of Divine Chocolate bars!

There were speeches. The artist is a commanding man, and he began by looking round the room with a slight smile playing on his lips and telling us: “These works are magical… I am magical!”

Then cultural historian and film-maker Nana Oforiatta-Ayim talked to us engagingly about some of the meanings behind Owusu-Ankomah’s work.

Owusu-Ankomah's modern take on adinkras at October Gallery now

One striking theme is how his paintings often juxtapose the past and the present, or the traditional and modern. Owusu-Ankomah mixes adinkra symbols with visual signs of his own invention which often allude to modern scientific insights about the nature of reality. One of the adinkra symbols that crops up in his art is Sankofa, a bird that walks forward with its head facing backwards. It means “go back and pick up what you left behind”, showing that in order to comprehend the present and move wisely into the future you must first understand the past.

Finally, the High Commissioner of Ghana officially opened the exhibition and extolled the virtues of Ghana, explaining to laughs and approval how their country has the best gold, the best cocoa – “I hear that Divine Chocolate are here tonight and they will know this” – the best art … and the best football!

This is one of the first events Divine is involved in for Chocolate Week – which is coming up from 10th-16th October. You can go and look at the art yourself at the October Gallery over the next six weeks. And for you teachers, the charity Trading Visions will be running a free session for teachers at the gallery on 4th October inspired by Owusu-Ankomah and chocolate!

Owusu-Ankomah: Microcron – Kusum (Secret Signs – Hidden Meanings)
The October Gallery
15 September – 29 October 2011
Opening hours: Tuesday-Saturday, 12:30pm-5:30pm

Eat Your Own Art: teacher’s session
4pm-6pm, Tuesday 4th October
Email education@octobergallery.co.uk to book a place or phone 027 242 7367

Chocolate cocktails, chocolate cupcakes and chocolate canapés at The Gore Hotel

15 October 2009
Natasha Kaplinsky & Joanna Yarrow with Divine Martinis

Natasha Kaplinsky & Joanna Yarrow with Divine Martinis

Last night we hosted a cocktail evening for food bloggers and online friends to celebrate Chocolate Week. Held at the sumptuous Gore Hotel in Kensington, guests enjoyed Divine cocktails made by The Gore’s exuberant mixologist. A couple of days before the event Charlotte headed over to the hotel to meet the mixologist and try some of his Chocolate Week creations – the results were fantastic! A Divine Martini made with Divine’s dark chocolate bar, Baileys, Kahlua, Absolut Vanilla and vodka. The Strawberry Crush was a more fruity option made with fresh strawberries, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice, vodka and Divine’s dark chocolate. Divine’s resident chocolatier David Greenwood-Haigh had spent the afternoon creating some wonderful truffles. Guests were in for a surprise as David also showcased his new chocolate creation – chocolate-coated cherry tomatoes! Cupcakes were provided by the lovely Helena Corvin-Swahn of Mallard and Swahn – words cannot describe how utterly gorgeous these miniature morsels of choccy heaven were. She had even decorated some of the cupcakes with a beautiful golden Divine heart – the heart-shaped symbol in the centre of the Divine logo which is a traditional Ghanaian emblem meaning revival and learning from the past.

It was great to meet people face to face – representatives from Daisy Green, Ethics Girls, The Londonist, Netmums, The Culinary Guide, Mumsnet, Green My Style, Joanna Yarrow of Beyond Green with friend Natasha Kaplinsky. We hope everyone enjoyed the evening as much as we did! Happy Chocolate Week everyone and thanks for joining us … we’ll be doing it again soon! To see photos from the event visit our Flickr page.

Choosing cupcakes

Choosing cupcakes

Festival Fun at Ben & Jerry’s Sundae

27 July 2009

Main Stage (credit Gemma Davis)Icecream (credit Gemma Davis)Cows (credit Gemma Davis)Human League (credit Gemma Davis)

We had such fun at the Ben and Jerry’s Sundae Festival on Clapham Common this weekend! Music, carousels, a helter-skelter, toe wrestling, egg painting, banana bashing and heaps of free ice cream!

Divine and Dubble were sampling and selling our chocolate as well as offering free Adinkra symbol Henna tattoos. We had a great pitch close to the main stage so we were happy talking to visitors and listening to the likes of bands such as Super Furry Animals and Futureheads.

The weather was stunning on Saturday, perfect for ice cream, maybe not so perfect for chocolate! The rain on Sunday evening didn’t put a dampener on things – not when you’re listening to the 80’s classics from The Human League!

Check out some of Ben & Jerry’s photos from the event, and a special thank you to Gemma Davis for use of her photos in this post. We’re already looking forward to next year!

Divine’s website gets a revamp

7 April 2009
Desktop with Denkyem Adinkra Symbol

We are feeling extra specially Divine as our new website built with 2.0 technology has finally launched! www.divinechocolate.com It has been real labour of love, just ask our web agency Uber who have worked tirelessly night and day to build us a website that not only looks gorgeous but also offers lots of extra benefits. Our new site has easier navigation and is designed so we can be more in touch with our web users. We want to listen to ideas and understand issues, after all Divine is all about people and now our website is to! The best part is our supporters and chocolate lovers can now talk directly to us on the website. We have developed a forum section for everyone to feed comments to us and share ideas on… well, anything really! If you think there is something we should be doing or have a great idea we would love to hear from you.  Readers can now comment on our news including updates from Kuapa Kokoo in Ghana and our events and chocolate recipes, would be nice to know if the recipes really do taste as good as they look! We also have gorgeous Divine computer desktops to download, each one has their own unique Adinkra symbol.  I downloaded, Denkyem, the crocodile symbol meaning ‘adaptability’, its my favourite symbol and I have it on my business card. There is a bean to bar screensaver, ecards for friends and Divine buttons for websites.

We have films in Ghana and have exciting plans for bringing UK chocolate lovers and cocoa farmers closer together. Watch this space!

A Divine Fairtrade Fortnight Launch

24 February 2008

What a fantastic start to Fairtrade Fortnight!

Fairtrade companies, supporters, producers, farmers, Londoners and everyone in between gathered together on the Thames on London’s Southbank to celebrate the launch of Fairtrade Fortnight with a Fairtrade Fairground.

Divine Chocolate was giving away free delicious tasters of chocolate and were joined by a Henna Tattooist who was giving free Adinkra symbol Henna tattoos (the Ghanaian symbols which feature on the Divine packaging). The two Ghanaian cocoa farmers from Kuapa Kokoo, the cooperative of farmers which co-owns Divine Chocolate, had flown into Heathrow that morning and met visitors to the stall and telling everyone about the difference Fairtrade is making to them and their communities. The weather was glorious and the event was a lot of fun thanks to dancing Fairtrade bananas, a walking talking Dubble bar, games and rides for the children and lots of wonderful Fairtrade samples to try.

Happy Fairtrade Fortnight everyone

From everyone at Divine Chocolate and Kuapa Kokoo