Is Galamsey ‘A Flooded River That Has Burst Its Banks?’

Feature Article Is Galamsey A Flooded River That Has Burst Its Banks?
AUG 27, 2022 LISTEN

THE President of the Republic has unequivocally condemned it. Not once, not twice, but times without measure.

The President has called chiefs to his office and reasoned with

them in private. (So admitted a member of the Manhyia Traditional Council a few days ago.)

The President has taken advice from the Council of State. Public meetings have been held by Ministers and officials, drumming in the message, “STOP GALAMSEY, FOR IT’S KILLING OUR WATER SOURCES!”

Also, the Parliament of Ghana has passed a stringent law against it. In its severity, this law his law only stopped short of imposing the death sentence as the punishment for breaking it.

But none of it has worked. Our women who go to our rivers and streams to “fetch water” for their households, still return home with red clay (nkyoma) in their grawas [four-gallon tins] and buckets, instead.

And it continues.

Now, our blatant self-deception has caught up with us.

A son of the soil has ignored all protocols and has publicly pricked open the wound that’s been festering for years below the skin of our society – just like a spreading ulcer.

And “powerful people” in Asante are publicly calling for his blood, because (they say) “waka asԐm a yԐnka! (He has spoken the unspeakable.)

But are these “powerful people” unaware that they are pitting

their weight against that of the state of Ghana? Are they sure that what they doing and saying

would be supported by their own people, if a referendum were held on the issue of galamsey? Let them dare the Governmkent and see!

They say they have “temporarily” banned the radio station, on which the son of the soil made his statements, from continuing to broadcast. But do they have the legal authority to close down a radio station that has been licensed by the state, in compliance with the Constitution of Ghana?

Some unknown assailants went to the offices of the alleged offender or breaker of tradition and wrecked the place. Do the "powerful chiefs" of Asanhte want to be associated with such acts of lawlessness? Are they not aware that if lawlessness occurs in a society, it does not discriminate between n those who are right and those who are wrong? Are they not aware that it is the influential members of society -- like themselves -- who suffer most when mob action is let loose on the society?

It is futile for those of us who have been warning against galamsey for years, to wring our

hands again, and say to the Government, in particular, “We told you so!”

For indeed, we recognise that the Government has been put in an unenviable position by the galamsey menace. If the Government cracks down hard on the galamseyers, they claim that the Government is hurting “its own children”.

Yet the galamseyers are “children” whose ears have been blocked by the golden nuggets they dig up from sacred rivers and people's food farms.

They are "children" who want members of their own famillies to die of thirst. They are "children"

who do not scruple to starve their kinsmen. Some "children"!

Indeed, they are not “children” at all! Neither are they true followers of the governing party.

On the contrary, in pursuit of their selfish interests, they do not care to expose the governing party to a charge of acting like a toothless bulldog."

Yet, since the first duty of a government is to govern, portraying the government they allegedly support as a “toothless bulldog” means seriously undermining it. How can anyone undermine a government and yet claim that he or she is a loyal “supporter” of that government?

The choice was always there; it's unavoidably present. Either support the government to uphold the laws it has itself passed and stop galamsey, or else force the Government to become the enemy of galamseyers, whoever they are.

It is an unfortunate choice. But economic realities are bereft of sentiment. And actions speak louder than protestations of loyalty -- by word. Reality does not bow down to the wishes of us humans.

Given a relatively easy way of making money through galamsey (by obtaining a piece of land for a small down-payment; hiring one or two excavators, bulldozers and changfans and employing competent technicians to man these machines, whether they be locals or foreigners) enables one to evade the risks involved in engaging in legitimate entrepreneurship (such as the Government encourazges). So while the dedicated and honest businessmen sweat to combat inflation, inadequate capital outlays and other imponderables (such as labour and customer-related problems) the galamseyer relaxes and depends on protection from on high". Thus emboldened, one or two of them have been known not to scruple to boast, publicly, that they “make one million dollars a day!” Or some such figure.

But, as our elders have warned us, “ԐnkyԐnkyԐ wↄ n’afe.” [It may take ‘for ever’ to happen, but happen it will! One day!]

I am afraid, the Kumase incident could well be the first shot in the implosion of an intra-social contest for power, that may take years to exhaust itself.

For the galamseyers are going to tell members of the Government: “Yes, you are satisfied, because you can make money by awarding contracts. We do not have access to any such avenues of enrichment. Yet we fought in the election, for you!”

The Government will then point to the colour of the water the electorate drinks and say, “So you want to continue doing this to the water?” And the galamseyers will say, “it's unfortunate, but....!”

“But what?”

The galamseyers will retort (as the saying attributed to “Wakabout” in Nigeria goes,) “Man mↄst wak!”

No! Mere, continued appeals to the consciences of the galamseyers over the state of our water-sources won’t work. For God's sake -- how many such appeals have NOT been tried before – to no avail?

An urge to adopt safer, more technically efficient methods of winning gold won’t work, either. For, in the dark, when the mosquitoes are biting and dangerous snakes are slithering about, the comfort of an excavator cabin drowns the voices of a political leadership.

Yes, days will come when those who issue public warnings (uttered in an "uncultured" manner though they might have been) will be regarded by the populace as prophets or heroes.

Meanwhile, the traditional rulers, who should have been leading a valiant fight to save their people’s water-sources (PRESERVED FOR THEM BY THEIR WISE ANCESTORS) will cry out in revolt against the current holders of offices of trust. Sἑbe o tafrakyἑ, many will be deemed

to be traitors.

“Oh Ghana! Na you dis

?” our grandchildren AND THEIR CHIKDREN will moan, as they struggle to combat the effects of self-created social disintegration, in an age that would be facing other types of wretchedness created by unrelating climate change.