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Opinions of Saturday, 30 September 2017

Columnist: Paul Kwabena Wadie

The folly of the ignorant galamsay 'gangalia'

My late grandmother was something of a scholar. And she didn't disappoint when it came to the English language. Words like 'asoot', 'poprogana' and my favorite 'gangalia' were pronounced with aplomb. 'Fa wo poprogana no firi me so ko!' To wit, away with your propaganda, was pleasingly good to my ear. Somehow, I grew up to know that 'asooto' is really assorted, 'poprogana' is propaganda and 'gangalia' is gang leader.

So it is that the government has declared a national fight against Galamsay. A rather vague term that encompasses all forms of mining aside the big corporate ones such as Anglogold Ashanti, Newmont and Iduaprem.

The announcement of the fight caught the galamsayers by surprise. Even though, civil society organizations had been expressing some disquiet about the phenomenon; and the government was also fighting it, at least openly, the galamsay enterprise has become so integrated into our system that it has become a political hot potato.

Isn't it an open secret that the enterprise is driven by a strong political desparadoes whose only understanding of public service is to be patrons? That they need a never ending source of money to bribe their way into power? So I was bemused when President Akuffo Addo dared declare a fight against this huge enterprise which involves scores of his own financiers and the voters who voted for him. Indeed, President Akuffo Addo was very supportive of galamsay as he canvassed for the votes of galamsayers.

If the galamsayers thought they had the president in their pockets, there was also a strong lobby of enlightened Ghanaians who might have had a secret pact with him to fight the menace.

The anguish of the enlightened in relation to the galamsay disease was amply demonstrated during one Sunday Mass when my Bishop took no prisoners in the condemnation of all the players in the galamsay game in his homily. The man was livid!

For all the effort of the government, there is a particular galamsay player who is ignored. He is the village gangalia! He is the one who resembles a character of the henchman of a politician in Ngugi W'athiango's 'Petals of Blood'.

This village gangalia is a danger! He is ignorant, brazen and greedy. Usually, he is not into any recognised employment and feeds off the crumbs thrown by his master. He is the one who rallies the youth and manipulate them at the instruction of his puppet master.

In this fight, crusaders need to identify him and render him blunt by both educating and buying him. For he little appreciate the ills of the galamsay enterprise on himself and his children if not his society. And sadly, after the show has left town, he becomes the most dejected of them all.

Somehow, I started this piece before the unfortunate and sad death of the young officer of the Ghana armed forces. That is why I have not included the part played by our gangalia in leading such mob action.