I HAVE, in one of my many articles on galamsey, warned our country and its rulers that the galamsey issue had become something like a “river that has burst its banks.” When a river bursts its banks, it has “flooded”.
Those who have television sets would, of late, have seen floods in Pakistan, parts of the USA and Australia, and Germany, and in Africa, Nigeria and Chad.
A river that has flooded its banks is terrifying to see. It does not know whether a place was built for storage or for slumber. Roads, holes in the ground, trees and all manner of vegetation, get swept away by angry waters. Humans and animals alike become its victims. Nature does not know right or wrong! It has its laws, and when those are broken, certain circumstances ensue. Period.
We have sat down and allowed galamsey to become like a river in flood. We thought that if we built “fetish houses” for the river and paid homage to it during special festivals, it would have pity on us during the rainy season. But the entire river knows is the course which it has followed since it was created eons ago. Block parts of it; divert the waters artificially; build a dam on it; arouse the riverbed from its sleeping-place by using excavators and bulldozers on it and – you will have hell to pay.
Birem did it to the people of Kyebi a few weeks ago.
People wailed. But Birem didn't care. It went about its business, namely, to find the bigger rivers that were capable of carrying its waters to the sea.
So, it is that our government, in a bid to indicate to the people who live in our gold-producing areas that it was mindful of the people's need to engage in “small-scale” mining and thereby be enabled to feed their families, resorted to modern methods of “managing” the galamsey phenomenon in our countryside.
The government lectured the people about the need to regularise” small-scale gold-mining. That turned out to be an exercise in futility. For economic activities have their own laws. No-one will use hand labour when machines can undertake the tasks involved, more efficiently and speedily.
Modern conditions create their own psychological imperatives. So, whereas in the past, our rural dwellers relied on families and small bands of voluntary workers to dig up gold, and were successful at it that that our country became christened as “The Gold Coast”, they didn't endanger their drinking water or food farms. The gold-digging was done by using methods that were “cultural” and “traditional”, and which, if flouted, were very severely punished.
We, on the other hand, know neither the European's reverence for “law and order” imposed through years of the repression of the anti-social economic proclivities of “serfs” in a feudalistic society, nor the traditions and cultural observances our “education” has taught us to despise, have been doing what we like.
Neither poisonous chemicals (such as mercury or cyanide) frighten us adequately. We just dig and dig and dig. And our state institutions laud our efforts by periodically announcing the tonnage of gold we have produced “through small-scale mining”. Does that mean that gold-smuggling has ceased to occur in Ghana? How do they get the figures? From the Governments of India, China and Qatar?
Well, the earth on which we live is a special place in the universe, as far as we can tell. It is the only place in the observable universe as far as is known, “where atoms can talk to each other” in intelligent conversation!
Maybe, with ultra-sophisticated telescopes (such as the (“James Webb) now peering into the beginnings of the universe, we may discover life somewhere else. But until we do so, “We Are It”
If you go to Google and search for “number of galaxies, stars and planets in the observable universe”, you will see such numbers as will make your head ache!
And there is no sign of life on any of those multifarious conglomerations of particles!!
So, please let us be super-appreciative of the special status we occupy in Nature and look after our water sources and forests very well indeed.
In our past, murder (awudie in Twi) was not tolerated in our society and was severely punished. So was rape (mmↄnaatoↄ.) Atetenkrona [those who killing people and harvesting their hearts] and adwotwafoↄ [highway robbers] also had a tough time.
Please note that all the crimes I have listed above were crimes that harmed the members of the society as a whole. They destabilised the society, because they created fear amongst the mass of the people.
I believe strongly that in trying to stop galamsey, (and I doubt whether there is any honest person in Ghana today who would deny that galamsey is an extremely reprehensible crime that poses an existential threat to our society and that we have no choice but to ruthlessly uproot it, in exactly the manner that our ancestors would have done.)
We should look back at the survival practices of our ancestors and try to work out how they would have tackled the phenomenon.
I offer the Government this idea: set up a Commission of Enquiry to investigate how our Asafo system of local self-defence can be concretively revived and charged with ending galamsey.
Naturally, I would be among the first persons to give evidence to the Commission — if asked, that is!”
By CAMERON DUODU