Has Donald Trump ever visited Accra Ghana
The Swabian Papaya King of Ghana
When Helmut Lutz, whom they call the "Papaya King" in Ghana because he has more than a thousand tons of fruit fly and ship to Germany every year from his "Tropigha Farm" in the Volta region, first traveled through Africa in 1988, he did not know where he would end up, only what he never wanted to be: a farmer.
Lutz comes from the Filder plain above Stuttgart, where the pointed cabbage is green and the wind that blows furrows in people's faces and thoughts is eternal. The "Ohpa", who came out of the war late, was Krautbauer. The "Vadder," who came out of the pub late, too. Helmut Lutz played with Fritz, the son of the cabbage farmer next door, that they rode through the prairie. The fields were endless. Beyond that was the airport. The world.
In the Fildern, you need a good reason not to take over the yard, and the only good reason is a silver star to be mounted on the hood. As a very young man, Helmut Lutz was taken down "at the Daimler". But he soon noticed that the other apprentices were only there because their fathers had already "made it" at Daimler. He switched to a smaller company. But he had to go further. So Lutz resigned and drove off with his girlfriend at the time, Carola. She a master in standard dances, he a machinist, master in standard motors. Lutz was 28. In his bus, a Mercedes L319, they plowed through the African continent until after exactly 365 days they were at the Cape of Good Hope.
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Of the many poor spots they stopped at, the Central African Republic was the poorest. “You didn't get anything. Högschden's malaria, ”says Helmut Lutz. But even there, as straight ahead as the A8 between Stuttgart-Möhringen and Echterdingen, because he was chatting to the right people, this man found a piece of meat, and if it was a giraffe, and at least an onion and a handful of flour and an egg. He had hardly cooked at home. But at the campsites, most of which were sand holes, where people who had no business in Africa but who were looking for something, would crouch down in front of the gas stove when the heat faded away and scrape spaetzle into the water like Grandma did once knocked the meat into the pan and tossed the onions afterwards and found some leftover red wine with which he extinguished everything. Roast beef with onions!
You have to know what you are fleeing from
In the Central African Republic he lured three broken guys, Germans with long mats, like Lutz had one before the sun burned his skull brown and widespread, as if he were walking a savannah. For months the three had only fed on canned tuna and bananas they had brought with them.
"Go for it," said Helmut Lutz, "you're going to die!" The guys couldn't believe it. That someone prepares a juicy traditional dish in the dusty nowhere. Weren't you here to try the unknown? “Look at you,” said Lutz, “is it okay?” What he preached to them while they were eating became a Lutzian wisdom, that's why he remembers the three of them so well: “It's not enough to leave home . You have to take something with you! A feeling, not tuna! «What you hate at home, Lutz means by that, gives you the drive to start. You have to know what you are fleeing from. But what you love at home gives you the strength to get along elsewhere. You have to know what belongs to you.
Helmut Lutz cannot do without Swabian food. He tried a lot in Africa; the corn porridge and the bony fish, stop me. And he loves the Swabian punctuality. The woman he married because he loves her too, Valerie, a Nigerian, says: The whites have the clocks, the blacks the time. And he loves Swabian cars. They got him this far.
After a year and a half he came back from Africa. Money was running out and the space Carola gave him. His father was already dead, passed away much too early. Helmut Lutz opened a workshop on the farm that his father had left behind and which his little brother did not want to continue running either. He freely determined his days. Nonetheless, each of them began with a longing for roads that they didn't know the end of. Every few months Lutz lured his buddies: Come on, I'll close the workshop for three weeks, we'll transfer old Daimler to Africa, sell them and fly home with the money. The convoy went through desert and mud, to Algeria, Niger, Togo. If someone broke down, Helmut Lutz would crash hundreds of kilometers into the next oasis to get spare parts.
Thirty years later, Lutz is sitting in the cigarette-dry and air-conditioned air of his Mercedes Benz GL 320, built in 2008, new price 65,000 euros, which he bought cheaply because he first had to install a new engine. In the morning glimmer, the massive car protrudes like an elephant from the traffic jam in Accra, which seems to have no beginning and no end, like the capital of Ghana itself.
"Because of the shitty traffic, I'm hardly here anymore, I'm always on the farm," complains Lutz. Nothing makes him so mad as being braked on the street and while telling stories. Once again, the smoke from his lungs wrestles his voice down before the sentence is finished. Helmut Lutz smokes even more than he speaks, three boxes of Rothmans a day. He doesn't smoke chain, he smokes in the fast lane.
The plantation, which he has managed for almost 20 years, is a three pothole hour drive north of Accra. Lutz commuted for a long time. Two years ago, his wife and their 14-year-old son moved to Germany to live with his mother on the Filder. They wanted the boy to go to a decent school. Now Helmut Lutz is alone in the bungalow in the middle of a walled settlement. He has no reason to be in town anymore. Only today, he had to go to the dentist. Lutz got new incisors, white and symmetrical. His wife had long been tired of the old ones. Helmut Lutz didn't care until it hurt. "Lubricating and ointing helps everywhere," said his grandfather, "by men and by men!" Men are carts, cars. Lutz looked after them better than himself.
Lutz came to Ghana in 1993 and fell in love with the country straight away: the people are unusually carefree, democracy is unusually safe. A German ran a papaya plantation near Accra, and Lutz was supposed to maintain their fleet of vehicles. He never returned from this trip to Africa, only for family celebrations. He bequeathed his workshop to the best employee. Because when he had repaired the vehicle fleet, without noticing it, he organized the German's plantation. Lutz learned that if you want to harvest a lot of fruit, papayas need as much water and as much light as pointed cabbage. And he imported varieties that tasted better than the papayas native to Ghana that nobody ate at the time. He learned what it takes to ensure that the pulp with its fantastic vitamin C content is not too sweet or too fibrous. He learned to talk to the union, politicians and the police. But the owner paid little attention to his plantation. And when Helmut Lutz does one thing, he does it right.
After four years he quit and opened a bar on Labadi Beach, Accra's city beach. The best thing about his bar wasn't the imported sausages, but the woman who sat at the counter, a Nigerian journalist. Valerie.
From the herb farmer to the papaya king
At that time Lutz met Fritz, his childhood friend, while visiting his home country. He had turned the family's cabbage farm into a modern business, that was his escape, but who still ate sauerkraut? Even the people in the Filder wanted something exotic. Wait a minute, Helmut, you know about papaya, don't you? Fritz Schumacher knew something about business. Helmut Lutz something of Africa. So the cabbage farmer sons who never wanted to become cabbage farmers became papaya farmers. Schumacher is in charge of sales in the Filder region and Lutz in Ghana is in charge of cultivation. 400 hectares, 90,000 plants, 200 workers. They send up to sixty tons of papaya and now also pineapple to Germany every week, as whole fruit or cut into pieces by an intermediary. Anyone who regularly buys papaya or pineapple in a German supermarket has certainly tried one by Helmut Lutz.
When he finally left Accra that morning, Lutz is stopped again. He knows the policemen at the many roadblocks on the way to the farm, and they know him, he doesn't have to give pocket money every time. But a presumably new colleague wants to check the fire extinguisher and the two warning triangles that are now mandatory in Ghana. "There's no such thing as a miscounting about order and security," Lutz grumbles and yells out of the car window: "Do you know who I am?" A man in a white uniform appears, the superior, and laughingly orders that "Mister Helmut" be allowed to pass.
The son's gang star is raging from the car radio, and Helmut Lutz is raging into his hands-free system. His only truck recently crashed into an unsecured accident site with a full load. They don't build a motorway here and don't recover any vehicles. Total loss. The driver in the hospital. 50,000 euros gone. Lutz needs a replacement car and a replacement driver. But that has disappeared. The office manager on the farm, a Nigerian woman, newly hired because her predecessors from the area regularly scrapped something, doesn't know what to do next. Klaus, the lazy Tübingen man who chugs across the fields on his motorcycle, his co-boss, neither. Helmut Lutz hangs a long "Haalllo?" On everything he shouts into the phone, as if he had to wake up the others.
"In Germany you have no idea what it means to work here," says Lutz. He is only asked whether the 100 euros a month his unskilled workers receive is not a small amount. Nobody wants to know that this is more than the Ghanaian minimum wage and that he is the only employer in the barren region, that he is building a kindergarten, that many people make careers with him, including foreman. Instead, they say from the supermarkets that the Germans wanted the pineapple greener, but ripe, please. Or you ask about the CO2 balance. The cargo planes that take his fruit with them would fly back to Europe anyway, otherwise they would be empty. There is now a high-tech logistics center at Accra Airport. The freight companies whose first and best customer was Helmut Lutz have gotten rich. Lutz earns a few cents on every fruit. He's paying off loans. His phone rings. One employee reports that a worker saw off a finger. They fear that there is a curse on the farm, juju that is. Mr. Helmut should put a piece of wax in his trouser pocket to protect it. "Sometimes," Lutz smokes, "I wonder what I'm doing this for!"
Later he sits in the garden of the house that a German dropout has built for him next to the farm. The maid serves spaetzle with goulash according to the old Lutz recipe. Lutz loops. Some pump is broken. And he has to control the planting. Every day on his farm consists of work, work and house building, but the days are not monotonous, but unpredictable. Helmut Lutz has created something unique: the Ländle as an adventure. Filderstadt with bush fire. Lutz is needed. He needs that.
Helmut Lutz feels that he will not get old if he continues to smoke like this. He wants to build another house in Ghana. On a small plateau above its endless fields. His little Filder. It should end here. In a rocking chair, even by the pool in winter. Lubricated and anointed by nurses who "wouldn't agugge an old man in Germany" and who couldn't be afforded there either. Helmut Lutz can't go back. Because here, 4894 kilometers from home, he likes to be who he always was, but never wanted to be. A real Swabian.
EAT “La Chaumiere” is one of the best French restaurants in West Africa - and the most charming. Liberation Road, Accra,
00233/30/277 24 08
SLEEP The "Volta Hotel Akosombo" between Accra and the farm is particularly worthwhile for the view.
ABSOLUTELY Visit the wild animals in Mole National Park.
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