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Opinions of Sunday, 21 July 2019

Columnist: Cameron Duodu

What sort of madness is this?

Cameron Duodu is the author of the article Cameron Duodu is the author of the article

It has happened again!

It is reported that at least 12 persons have been buried alive in a galamsey operation at a disused gold-mine at Akrokerri, in the Adansi North district of the Ashanti Region.

One person is confirmed dead as a result of the accident.

As usual, details are sparse. But one “eye-witness” account claims that even as rescuers

were trying to use excavators to scoop up soil from the pits in which the galamseyers had

been buried, some people in the locality were busy collecting the scooped-up soil and taking it away to go and “wash” -- in search of gold!

Can it be true? So people have no fear at all? Your fellow humans are probably dead in a pit and all you can think of is the very gold the lust for which has brought them to such a sad end? What about helping the rescuers? Are Ghanaians now so lacking in humanity that they place gold above human lives?”

The answer to the above questions, I am afraid, is yes; yes; and yes! And it makes me ashamed to be a Ghanaian.

I was discussing this incredible behaviour with a few guys who know about galamsey at first-hand when one of them volunteered: “But you haven’t heard anything yet! The reason why they want the soil from the location where people have died – “the death zone” -- is that they believe that once people have been killed at a place, their deaths serve as a “sacrifice” to the god of gold!

“The god then readily reveals itself to those who collect the soil from that “sacrificial” spot! It turns some of the soil into gold-bearing “sluice” [sand] which, when washed with chemicals, produces gold dust or even nuggets!”
”What? You mean people believe that sort of nonsense in 2019 Ghana?” I asked.

“Sir,” came the answer, “some people even go to the extent of murdering pregnant women, or newly-born babies, as a sacrifice to the god of gold!”

Someone else added, “Sir, even the Chinese who work with their Ghanaian collaborators on galamsey operations, do make sacrifices to their ancestral god of gold!”

I was stupefied.

I threw up my hands and said, “Ghana is finished. If humans are being sacrificed in order to obtain gold; if people are not ashamed to be looking for gold whilst others are trying to rescue people who are buried underground but might be still alive; then Ghana has become more barbaric than I ever thought possible.”

“Your fellow Ghanaians might even be hoping that no-one is found alive!” another person offered. They want those buried alive to die, so that the “god of gold” can consume them as a sacrificial offering! “

How callous can human beings become? I wondered.

What happened to the concern for humans that Ghanaians were once so proud of? We used to say that other people did not care for human lives, but as for us, we lived by the proverb that says “Life is like an egg; if it falls down and breaks, nothing can put it together again?”

The above realities illustrate the difficulties which our Government faces in trying to stop galamsey.

If people will scoop up soil in attempt to look for gold when rescuers are busy at work, then what won’t they do at night when no-one can see them?

How can the Government deploy enough “Task Force” personnel to patrol all the gold-bearing areas of Ghana, so as to prevent galamsey operators from frustrating the Government’s attempt to

reserve artisanal gold-mining exclusively to only registered small-scale miners?

Many small-scale miners have, in the past year, been paid allowances whilst they attended courses at which they received instruction from Government-paid experts in good mining practices. This was meant to enable them engage in legitimate mining without destroying our rivers, streams and the environment, generally.

But who knows what is really inside the heads of these people? Do they want the Government to be lulled into thinking that they want to be co-operative and only engage in “legitimate” mining activities, while, in reality, they are operating according to the dictates of superstition and the amoral “animal-jungle” laws of Eldorado?

Well, even though our fears are well-founded, the Government cannot just give up the struggle against galamsey. For if it gives up, it will in truth be sacrificing the future of our own grandsons and granddaughters, and THEIR grandsons and granddaughters, on the altar of future climate

Change! Already, scientists are forecasting horrendous water-famine in the world.

Humankind will not be able to produce food in its farmlands.

Unconcerned, we, in our madness, are turning our forests into

moon-craters, and a veritable Martian landscape.

To curtail this calamity, the Government must ask Parliament to pass a law, making it MANDATORY for all persons caught engaging in galamsey to be sentenced to LONG terms of imprisonment.

Foreigners caught collaborating with Ghanaians in galamsey operations must be also subjected to mandatory imprisonment. They must first serve their full sentences here, BEFORE being deported.

Task Force personnel caught assisting galamseyers after taking bribes must be dismissed immediately, with a loss of all their entitlements.

These are harsh measures.

But what else can the Government do?

It has spent money hiring mining experts to train small-scale miners. But galamsey continues.

Expensive drones are being used to map out legitimate concessions and

monitor operations in them. Yet galamsey continues.

A lot of money has gone into setting up Task Forces. Nevertheless, galamseyers keep being arrested.

What can be done that has not been done?


Ad3n? [Why, oh why?]

Yabr3! [We’re tired of it!]