Legal or Not Legal, Halt Galamsey Operators!!!
The insidious politics of rumor-mongering is a global phenomenon but in Ghana, in particular, rumor-mongering has been refined into an art that is capable of damaging even the most impeccable of hard-earned reputations beyond repair. In the latest clashes, reportedly, between the Akyem-Abuakwa Traditional Council and some prominent members of the dominant Asona clan of Kyebi and Okyeman, in general, we witness what initially began as largely cynical and unsubstantiated badmouthing threatening to spiral into a skirmish whose obvious intent is to irreparably injure the reputation of the Okyenhene, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin II, and with the latter, render the Okyenhene, at best, a seriously defective traditional moral authority (See “Okyenhene Denies Links with Galamsey Operators” Ghanaweb.com 11/24/11).
What makes the raging trend of accusations and counter-accusations between the Okyeman Council and some vocal members of the Kyebi Asona Clan rather disturbing, hinges squarely on the fact that the man who stands accused of aiding and abetting illegal gold mining and prospecting in Ghana's third-largest traditional polity is himself a leading advocate of environmental protection. Arguably, the Okyenhene is the most vocal environmental advocate among the ranks of the major chieftains of the country. And to back up this claim, it may be fondly recalled that several years ago, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin II, with substantial assistance from the Dutch government, established the University of Environmental Studies at Bunso.
And so it hardly comes as any surprise that the Okyenhene should take umbrage at the latest public swipe at both his well-cultivated and hard-earned reputation as an environmental protectionist, as well as his credibility as an exemplary traditional ruler of Okyeman. Indeed, this is not the first time that the Okyenhene has been rumored to have been involved in illegal mining and forestry activities. In the past, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori-Panyin II has been unofficially accused of being personally engaged in illegal lumbering activities, even while he was also widely reported to have been vehemently decrying the same.
In either instance, however, those of us who have been closely monitoring his activities, at least officially as reported by the media and from the objective distance of the diaspora, have summarily dismissed such accusations, knowing full-well the kind of envy, jealousy and plain enmity to which any holder of such prestigious traditional office is apt to be routinely subjected.
What makes the latest round of accusations rather grievous is the apparent willingness of at least one such accuser, a Nana Adjei Boateng and some alleged, albeit unnamed, members of the Asona Royal Family, presumably resident in Kyebi, to face down the Okyenhene at his own official seat of governance and authority. We are also told that protocol demands that his accusers appear before the Okyenhene and the Okyeman Council “to swear [an oath] to a deity [in order] to back [up] their claims.”
Needless to say, while such established tradition ought to be respected and even preserved, for whatever procedural value it may still be envisaged to retain, nonetheless, in the postcolonial and post-industrial world of the twenty-first century, a far more credible and effective method of forensic verification ought to be promptly devised and institutionalized. And on the preceding score, one prefers to think more in terms of the appointment of an independent investigator, possibly either by the Eastern Regional House of Chiefs, or even the greater executive body of the National House of Chiefs, after whose deliberations, once the findings of the independent investigator have been submitted, legal and/or judicial recommendations could be made, if and when deemed appropriate.
In the larger context, what is at stake here is the socioeconomic and cultural well-being of not only the good people of Okyeman in general, but the destiny of Ghanaian citizens at large. And on the latter score must also be underscored the fact that while Akyem-Abuakwa is politically dominated by members of the Asona Clan, the destiny and development of Okyeman are equally weighted on the proverbial shoulders of members of all the eight major clan, or tribal, groupings of the Mega-Akan State of Ghana and beyond. And, of course, among the eight major Akan tribes/nations are Oyoko, Biretuo, Aduana, Ekuona, Asene and Asakyiri.
Also at stake is the very stature and dignity of the august office of the Okyenhene. We hope that those spearheading the conflict with the Okyenhene and the Okyeman Council fully recognize the far-reaching implications of their actions. Which is why we join voices with Mr. Kwame Boateng, the alleged spokesperson of the Okyenhene, in pleading with any detractors of the Okyenhene who may be hiding behind others to promote an ungodly agenda of character assassination, to either promptly cease and desist, or muster the necessary and salutary courage to come forward and make their case.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is Director of The Sintim-Aboagye Center for Politics and Culture and author of “Ghanaian Politics Today” (Lulu.com, 2008). E-mail: [email protected]
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