Storytime (blog 11)

The Dark Side of Chocolate


I remember the day as if it were yesterday. It was a moderately sunny day and I was playing outside with my two brothers. It was a Sunday and we always practiced soccer on Sunday in preparation for when we played our friends that lived one village away. We had not eaten in days because we simply did not have enough money to afford any type of food. Now comes the part that I have tried to block from my memory for so long. Our father approached us and told my brothers and I to follow him down this random dirt road. We always did what we were told so we followed. We walked for what seemed like eternity until we reached what looked like a farm of some kind. Our father told us to wait as he met with this mysterious man I had never seen before.  This man and my father shook hands and gave my father what looked like a large sum of money. That was the last thing I remember before a bag was placed over my head. I remember feeling pain the more I tried to break free from the man that restrained me. Then it all went black.

As I woke up, I had no idea what day it was or where I was. However, the sun rose and I was ushered to the cocoa fields. I was given a machete and told to climb this tree. Meanwhile, I was looking around and all I could see were other young boys around the same age as I was. The youngest being around 8 years old. I kept looking for my two brothers but I could not find them and every time I stopped to look, I got whipped twice on my back.

I was forced to climb this tree and cut down the cocoa beans. Once I knocked the pods down I had to place them in a bag and carry them to another location. The only problem was that I had not eaten in days and the sack weighed twice as much as I did. I had some other workers help place the sack on my back, but it was always a struggle to move the pods. If I went to slow I would be punished so there was always a pressure to move as fast as possible regardless of the pain I was in. I had to take the machete and cut open the pods. This was always the stage in the harvest when things got messy; literally. Every ten minutes another child cut himself from the machete. Everyone had an abundant amount of scars on their arms, backs, legs, hands, and all over.

We had to cut the pods open to get the actual cocoa that was used for who knows what. Other children said it was used for this thing called chocolate, but I had never heard or tasted such a thing. I wonder if the people who use this cocoa realize all of the blood and sweat that has gone into harvesting these cocoa beans. The worst part about all of this is that we would get to go to sleep, yet when we woke up the torture started all over again. It feels as though it will never end. I always wonder how it was that I got here and will I ever be able to leave?

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7 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Chocolate

  1. Child slavery in the chocolate industry had never even occurred to me before your earlier post, so I am glad to see this topic revisited. I could only imagine the trauma and sorrow that would come from being a prisoner in one of these child slavery colonies. Really makes you thankful for what you have.

  2. I think you did a great job of making this situation come to life. I agree with Brigit. I cannot believe this happens. It is so sad, and I hope some regulations get established to end this unfair child labor.

  3. Thanks for bringing up this topic again. I don’t understand how a father could trade his children for money, knowing that they will be treated badly, even tortured, where they are taken.

  4. Eerily similar….

    ,a href=”http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/29/world/the-bondage-of-poverty-that-produces-chocolate.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm”>”One week after leaving his village in neighboring Mali for the first time, Yacouba Diarra, then 14, fell into the hands of a trafficker of children and was smuggled across the border into Ivory Coast’s cocoa-producing heartland.

    He was with another boy of the same age, both drawn by the promise of $135 each for a year’s labor. ”I did not know what kind of work I would do,” Yacouba said. ”I did not even know we were coming to Ivory Coast.”

    Once here, Yacouba was taken to a village of mud houses, miles from the nearest paved road, where he worked every day on a cocoa plantation, hacking brush with a machete and slicing ripe cocoa pods from trees. But after a year in the village, Petit Tiémé, the owner paid him only $13 — or about 4 cents a day, he recalled.

    He walked away from his employer at Petit Tiémé in late spring, he said, and settled nearby, here in Logbogba, where he had chanced upon a friend from the same village back home. His only concern was to get paid his back wages.”

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