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Opinions of Saturday, 29 April 2017

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

The impunity of the galamsey operators is beyond belief

Apart from the horrendous devastation the galamsey operators have inflicted upon our rivers and landscape, their attitude to our society's norms marks them out as a group of persons who have lost touch with any of the spiritual and moral values by which almost all of Ghana's ethnic groups have regulated their lives until now.

Money, and particularly gold, has always been of value to all of us, yes. But we have a song which became very popular in the late 1950s that warns us that:

Wiase af??f?de,
Ne nyinaa y? sika s?m,
S? wodi akyiri die die a,
Wob?y? nea y?nny?.

(The fine things of this world
Are all procured with money
But if you get over-obsessed with getting it,[money]
You will do what is not done.)

The galamsey operators have, in recent days, demonstrated that they have reached beyond what is acceptable in Ghanaian society; i.e.
they have done “what is not done.”

How come? First they had the audacity to threaten the elected President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo!

Then, they also threatened to petition the Asantehene, Otumfuor Osei Tutu The Second, to intervene with the Government on their behalf so that galamsey could go on!

What? Ask the occupant of the Golden Stool to condone the destruction of lands and rivers for which so many of his predecessors valiantly fought against the cannons of Europeans, including the British? Have they heard of what galamsey has done to the sacred River Tano [Kronkron]?
Tano, in particular, is so revered by the Asantes that a woman who is in her period is not allowed to cross it:

QUOTE “ [In her menstrual period, a woman] may not cross certain sacred rivers like the Tano; even should she become unwell when away from her home for the day, she may not return home across the river till six days have elapsed.” UNQUOTE (R S Rattray: Ashanti Religion and Art)

And yet, sons of Asante have collaborated with Chinese people to
commit sacrilege against this sacred Tano River, by dredging its bed and despoiling its banks, using excavators and other ugly machines. They have polluted the “nsu kronkron” [blessed waters] of Tano with mercury and cyanide used in washing gold.

They did not stop at Tano. They have also attacked the sacred Lake Bosomtwe; th= Offin River; the Prah River and other Rivers revered by their ancestors. And they want the occupant of the Golden Stool of Okomfo Anokye to close his eyes to all that and plead their cause? The sheer impudence of the idea. If I were an adviser to the Asantehene, I would say, “Nana, let them bring the petition. And then we shall ask them a few questions! If we are not satisfied with their answers, we shall have them horse-whipped in full view of the public for all to see what happens to people who commit sacrilege against the sacred endowments if the Asante people.”

Anyway, back to President Akufo Addo. He: QUOTE: “....has called the bluff of people engaged in illegal mining [galamsey] who have threatened that should he stop them, the fortunes of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would be affected in the next general election.

“What I will do is what God has told me to do, and that is what matters to me. What I have come to do is to take steps that will further the development of the country and that is what matters to me, not the next election,” the President stated.

“Reacting for the first time to a news conference held by a group of illegal miners who threatened to vote against the NPP in the next election, should the President halt their mining activities, the President said he remained unfazed by the threat to vote against the NPP in the next general election if he stopped them from the illegal acts. President Akufo-Addo explained that he was not against mining, but rather against illegal mining that brought devastation to the environment.

“I have not said I am going to put an end to mining. Mining started [from] time immemorial and I will not be the one to end it,” he stressed....The President said through the activities of illegal miners, parts of Kyebi and the Birem and Densu rivers were now in a sorry state, adding that that could not be allowed to continue. “Mining along the water bodies cannot continue if we want to preserve nature and our environment,” he said.

“Mining along the water bodies cannot continue if we want to preserve nature and our environment,” he emphasised. UNQUOTE

In another speech, the President affirmed that “Things we must do to propel development are the things I am concerned about. Our forefathers left us the natural resources. If we can’t protect them, then we should [at least] leave them for future generations”.

The President could have gone on to enlighten the galamseyers on why it is unwise to threaten a person like himself, but he is too modest to blow his own horns. So let me do a bit of horn-blowing for him: Personally, Nana Akufo-Addo does not know what defeat is! He is what is called a doughty fighter; otherwise he would not have had the courage to run against the NDC three times, knowing, as he did, that by the third occasion, the NDC would have amassed so much wealth through corrupt contracts that many Ghanaians would fall prey to its offers of money and vote against Akufo-Addo and his NPP.

Indeed, even some within the NPP itself were so sure that money would win the election that they counselled Akufo-Addo against standing for a third time, and when he ignored their advice, some used diabolical tactics to try and divide the party so that it would lose the election. One strong regional party leader who supported him was murdered; some high officials had to be suspended, and Akufo-Addo was made to look like a candidate who was dead in the water.

But he didn't sink because he was brought up to face difficulties with equanimity. His grand-father – on his mother's side – was Nana Sir Ofori Atta the First, Okyenhene (Paramount Chief of Akyem Abuakwa.) Now, the state Talking Drums of Akyem Abuakwa use every opportunity to tell the Okyenhene that he is the Leopard of the rain forest, who is so wily and well versed in hunting strategy that when he passes through the thickets in the bush, the thickets only shake bribribri but do not make any noise to alert his victims! Such words of bravado rub on to the offspring who sit at the feet of every King, and Nana Ado absorbed enough of it to last tow life-times.

Thirdly, the galamseyers betrayed the fact that they do not understand the political system of Ghana. Yes, a candidate needs votes, but once he is elected President, he becomes the chief law enforcement officer of the entire country. Even if illegality is not serious enough to result in the devastation of the rivers and forests of his land, the President is obliged to end the illegality.

How much more when he can see with his own eyes that rivers are being killed stone dead by galamsey; that the river that gave him sustenance as a baby, the Birem, has become a shadow of itself and what is left of it is so muddied up that the water treatment plant that purifies it before pumping it to the people of his own town, cannot treat it? He should sacrifice the iives of his people and their descendants for votes? If there had been no clean water for him to drink as a child, would he have survived the well-known water-borne diseases, such as dysentry and cholera, to be elected President in 2016?

What do the galamsey people think he is? A person who would allow his mind to ignore what his own eyes can see? If that is what they think of him, then, of course, he does not need them to be his followers. A leader is supposed to lead, not to allow himself to be sucked into the pits of death and destruction into which their ignorance and greed takes them; in this instance, in their search for gold.

The Government should be wary. Defiance is in the land: only shallow-minded people desperate to suck the lives out of their own people can even conceive of involving the President and Commander-in-Chief of their country's armed forces, as well as one of the country's most respected traditional rulers, in an argument over the destruction of Rivers, Streams and Farmlands. It is the survival of a few money-blinded individuals against the continued existence of Ghana as a country whose lands are a viable human habitat.

The choice is stark and clear. No amount of confusing sophistry should be allowed to be introduced into it.