Norwegian Language Blog

Norwegian chocolate and African child slavery Posted by on Mar 24, 2010 in Uncategorized


I’ve seen artikkler (articles) about barn (children) and vest-afrikanske kakaogårder (West-African cocoa farms) in norske aviser (Norwegian newspapers) lately.  I think I wrote a post a while back about norsk sjokolade (Norwegian chocolate) and how delicious it is.  When I was a student in Oslo, my friends and I went to Freia sjokoladefabrikken (the Freia Chocolate Factory) and ate so much delicious sjokolade, we thought we were going to spy (puke).  Little did I know then when I was shoving D’aim, Firkløver, og Kvikklunsj (kinds of norsk sjokoladeprodukter) that there is concern about where the sjokolade comes from.

Apparently, the majority of norsk sjokolade is produced from kakao from kakaogård in vestlige AfrikaElfenbenkysten (The Ivory Coast) is a great example of a West-African country that is absolutely full of kakaogårder.  To give you a better picture, Elfenbenkysten produces 40 % of the world’s kakaoproduksjon; there are about 600,000 kakaobonder there, many of whom are unge barn (young) children.

What a lot of nordmenn and anyone eating sjokolade, of which they don’t know the origins, don’t think about when they are savoring sjokolade is the fact that a starving, battered, young African slave might have worked a 12 hour day to harvest the cocoa to make your treat.  Me-guilty.  Not that kakao is the only product involved in barnearbeid(child labor) and slaveri (slavery), but for some reason knowing that sjokolade, such a succulent, delicious treat loved by nearly all taste buds, a treat that makes so many people happy, could be a source of such sadness and hopelessness for those on the other end.

Many of the children were given away by their parents because they couldn’t afford to raise them.  Many were stolen from their families.  They are fed sometimes en gang om dagen (once per day) and forced to work umenneskelig lange arbeidsdager (inhumane long work days) in horrible conditions.  De går ikke på skole (they don’t go to school) and some don’t even speak lokalspråket (the local language).  All so we can eat sjokolade.

So what can we really do about this besides not eat anything with kakao in it?  According to Dag Kjetil Øyna of Norsk Sjokolade fabrikkersforening, we need to work on improving forholder (conditions) in vestlige AfrikaBedrifter (Companies) involved in sjokoladeproduksjon must work with governmental and food authorities, as well as non-profit organizations to create better working and living conditions in the area.

For more information, please see this Aftenposten article.

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About the Author: kari

I attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I majored in Norwegian and History. During college, I spent almost a year living in Oslo, Norway, where I attended the University of Oslo and completed an internship at the United States Embassy. I have worked for Concordia Language Villages as a pre-K Norwegian teacher and have taught an adult Norwegian language class. Right now, I keep up by writing this Norwegian blog for Transparent Language. Please read and share your thoughts! I will be continuing this blog from my future residence in the Norwegian arctic!


  1. jeremy:

    Reminds me of the movie Blood Diamond a little bit.