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Opinions of Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

How can Otumfuo the Asantehene be censored over galamsey?

Government has vowed to fight galamsey Government has vowed to fight galamsey

Sometimes I am ashamed to be called a “Journalist' in Ghana. For the news values of some of our “journalists” are so skewed up!

Scenerio: The King of one of our oldest pre-colonial nations – Otumfuo Osei Tutu The Second – has been invited to give the opening address of a “Dialogue” between the Central Government and the “stakeholders” in the so-called small-scale mining sector. The dialogue is about the terrible galamsey disaster that Ghanaians have inflicted upon themselves.

Otumfuo arrives at the venue in his capital, Kumase. But before he can speak, the Central Government's representative in his capital, probably on the basis of “intelligence” provided to him, goes to him with another government representative. They plead, obsequiously, that Otumfuo should please observe “protocol” and “stick to his script!”

Otumfuo does not want to cause a “furore”, and so agrees to do as the Central Government wants.

But in Asante, 'Yɛmmfrɛ wo Ɔhen kwa'! [They don't call you a King or Chief for nothing!]

So, as soon as he stands before the microphones, the spirits of Okomfo Anokye, Otumfuo Osei Tutu The First, Otumfuo Opoku Ware and other illustrious founders of the Asante Nation, take over his mouth.

And he reveals, extempore, in Asante Twi, that the Ashanti Regional Minister and another representative of the government had approached him earlier, to “stick to his script”. But before doing that, he would just want to say a word or two.

And he continues to charge that a high percentage of the people in the room – perhaps 30 percent – not only knew who were carrying out galamsey in the country, but that some were themselves involved in the dastardly practice. They should stop forthwith, for he was minded to name and shame them!

Otumfuo said this, but except for a video of the speech posted by JoyFM, I would never have known about it! I certainly haven't seen any mention of it by the print media. Yet, the official handout of the Otumfuo's speech is all over the place – almost verbatim! Where are the “news values” of our “Journalists”?

In effect, Otumfuo had – partly – refused to be censored by the Regional Minister for Ashanti, Mr Osei Mensah! But no-one in the media had noticed! (Even JoyFM, in its text report of the Otumfuo's speech, did NOT make any reference to that all-important peroration in Twi!)

Of course, I can hear the excuses coming fast and furious: some of the reporters at the dialogue do not speak Twi; blah-blah-blah. Fiddlesticks! So no reporter at the dialogue could have asked for a translation of it from Twi into English for them, if they had shown any interest?

I draw the attention of my readers to this incident because it is symbolic of the duplicity and hypocrisy surrounding the whole galamsey enterprise. You only have to go to a galamsey site to ascertain with your own eyes that the people engaged in it are conscienceless, ruthless miscreants who respect neither drinking water, nor food and cocoa farms, nor forest reserves.

Yet the officials at the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources, the
Minerals Commission and the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment, have been pretending, in drawing up official documents, that they can supervise the criminals' operations and sanitize them. How? By by issuing licences to them!

Their first act of short-sightedness has been to limit “small-scale mining” operations to a designated area (100 metres) beyond the banks of a river.

But does that mean that, say, a portion of the Accra-Kumasi road can be dug up for gold-mining purposes, so long as it is outside the 100 metre-limit designated as the distance where gold-digging can occur from riverbanks?

Does that mean that people's food and cocoa farms can be “sold” to galamseyers and used for gold-mining, so long as they are outside the prohibited distance or range?

Why does the so-called law not make any mention of the reclamation of lands on which huge craters are formed during “small-scale mining?

What does it matter whether “small-scale mining” is called “community mining” or what have you, so long as it ends up creating environmental damage through craters that are abandoned as soon as the gold has been dug up? Damage of such a devastating nature that it cannot be repaired without expending huge sums of money, which we haven't got?

If the galamseyers were people with any understanding or a little honour, they would appreciate the dilemma they have placed the government in and be less destructive while trying to dig up the gold. But the pull of the gold is stronger than common sense. And they want the country to tolerate this nonsense by playing on words?

We do know that when the government gives them licences to “prospect” for gold, they corruptly upgrade the licences into permission to mine, and then flog the licences to the highest-bidding galamsey gangster, who can procure excavators, bulldozers and changfans – plus Chinese technicians!. Then they take as much gold as possible from the land, and – scram!

It has gone all for far too long. Our country looks, from the sky, like the playground of some drunken mammoths with gigantic feet, who awoken up from their “Jurassic Park” and set on us to extinguish our nation from the face of the earth. I exaggerate? Tell, that to the women in Aowin who, it is reported, are giving birth to babies without eyes and other organs.

As Otumfuo said, we know who are behind the destruction. Only we but are afraid to name, shame and prosecute them!

Otumfuo kasa! [Speak up, Otumfuo!]

Wo man di wakyi! [Your nation is behind you!]