Whenever you visit Tema, Ghana's industrial city, and you are hungry, you can go to a restaurant, a chop bar or eat at the roadside. You may like to eat in a restaurant but your pocket may not be able to afford the luxury. An option would be the "chop bar". The "chop bar" is the Ghanaian nickname for canteen, eatery or refectory.
The planners of the harbour city organized it into boroughs and called it communities. At present there are about 25 communities in Tema. In Community One "chop bars" including Osei, Kokoduam, Te Fifere and Nim Tree Under chop bars are readily at your service.
There is also a very popular chop bar in Community Two. It is called Agba Maame.
Ghanaian dishes like rice, yam and plantain are served with variety of stews; fufu, banku and konkonte are also served with a variety of soups. Perhaps it is the sweating after eating hot konkonte and groundnut soup, following a tot of the local gin, akpeteshie that "Te Fifere" derives its name. Te Fifere" in the Akan means, "you must sweat".
It might be interesting if Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, Minister of Information and National Orientation, would wish to organise a "konkonte eating competition" for residents of Tema to promote the Ghanaian dish.
From one Ghana cedi one can afford a meal depending on one's pocket in any of the "chop bars".
Unlike in the city centre of Accra, the "chop bars" in Tema do not serve Nigerian dishes. Eba and agushie stew; semo and okro stew and other dishes of Nigeria origin are not on the menu of the "chop bars" in Tema.
Alcoholic beverages like local gin akpeteshie, beer, soft drinks, bottled and sachet water are served at these "chop bars".
With the springing up FM stations in Accra and Tema, most "chop bars" depend on them for their highlife and other music to entertain their customers.
One should not be concerned only about the taste of the food but also the sanitary condition of the eating-place.
In some of these eateries, the customer has access to clean chairs and tables, tablemats, and each eater or patron is served a small bowl, with soap and warm water and small napkins to wash, rinse and dry hands. This is better than some of the "chop bars" where every eater will have to go and stand by a large bowl and wash hands with cold water and rinse with a damp towel.
Interestingly some skin specialists have claimed that certain skin diseases are picked up or transmitted from the use of one towel by many people. Would you patronize an eatery if the towel used there for hand drying would fetch you diseases?
Ventilation is another area, which should be seriously looked at. "Chop bars" have to improve upon their ventilation. They need to create more windows to make the rooms more airy.
Anytime you are in Tema and you are hungry waste no time to look for a good "chop bar". You would enjoy good food, nice music and refreshing drinks. Enjoy your stay at Tema.
A GNA Feature by Kingsley Tetteh Dasi