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25.11.2008 Feature Article

'Abrokyire' Palaver: Don't mess with the 'tsofi'

Thanksgiving Day is this Thursday and in keeping with their tradition Americans are going to spend the day with their families and loved ones over 'tsofi' and lots of food. This is the season for turkeys. They are the prized asset of the week.

Seeing turkeys receive so much 'attention' reminds me of Adoagyiri-Nsawam where women sell colored 'tsofi' to the delight and eagerness of many hands which reach deep into pockets to get a taste of a part of the whole bird which I am told is mentioned by qualifying one's language.

This important day has two different versions to it, one being that it commemorates an event in 1619 when the Captain of a group of British settlers knelt in prayer and pledged "Thanksgiving" to God for their healthy arrival after a long voyage across the Atlantic.

The second attributes it to an event in 1621 when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast in keeping with a long tradition of celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops. America 'Homowo' is what you may call it.

Apparently the combination of these two versions is what Americans have celebrated every fourth Thursday of November as a thanksgiving feast featuring the good old 'tsofi' which is critical to any celebration of the day.

There are some interesting turkey facts posted by the University of Illinois Extension which shows that the average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds and the heaviest ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog. This year turkey growers estimated producing 271 million turkeys. Of this it is estimated that 44 million are eaten each Thanksgiving, 22 million eaten at Christmas and 19 million eaten each Easter.

This is understandable considering the fact that everyone celebrates Thanksgiving but not everyone celebrates Christmas or Easter.

These turkey facts were the reason why I found it difficult to understand why anyone would be daring enough to 'mess up' with turkeys in this country. Not so for a West Virginia farm whose workers were caught on video not only taunting turkeys but killing them either by stomping on their heads or killing them by twisting their necks with their bare hands which reminds me of that song “no mercy for the alanta”.

According to the Associated Press the video, posted on the website of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, has outraged so many people and the farm supervisor has already lost his job.

PETA as the group is known, campaigns against the practices of turkey growers before Thanksgiving and encourages Americans to find vegetarian substitutes for the bird, such as tofu.

The company which owns the farm has immediately taken steps to address the turkey abuse lest it is saddled with eating its own turkeys now and forever.

It is even worse considering that if convicted in this case someone could go to jail for up to three years or end up paying up to $5,000 in fines so if you are reading this and you have a relative struggling to make it out here working on a farm especially at this time please tell them not to “mess up with that tsofi”.

As I honor an invitation by a classmate to join her family for Thanksgiving and in my own way of making meaning of the day I remain grateful to all those who take time off to commend and insult me for my views in this column. I remain grateful to you especially for reading and for those who go the extra mile to send me e-mails. Even as I take every bite of my 'tsofi' on Thursday I say thank you all.

MyjoyOnline, © 2008

This author has authored 338 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: myjoyonline

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