So many reputations have been buried under the evil-smelling rubble of hypocrisy, lack of realism and sheer deceit, generated by the so-called campaign against galamsey in this country that it would be remiss of true patriots not to warn Manhyia Palace in Kumase that the sporadic reports about an Asanteman Task Force being set up in the Asante Region to fight galamsey are capable of causing confusion.
First, we heard that a car had been “spotted”somewhere, bearing the inscription ”ASANTEMAN TASK FORCE.”
Also written on it were the words, Anti-galamsey summit. Or so the report claimed.
Next came news linking the Asanteman Task Force with the “ gold coin” project established by Manhyia.
But how could a project that probably depended on the winning of gold (the gold coin project) be linked to another thatwas being set up to fight the illegal mining of gold?
Didn't the close proximity of two projects with opposing objectives pose a problem of “contamination” through association? Would the new project be accorded the necessary credulity it would need if it was to achieve the lofty objective of ending galamsey in Asante?
Was the established gold coin project not likely to “absorb” the new. necessarily weaker one? Or stain it with its own weaknesses?
In a country well-known for its eleverness at indulging in double-talk, wouldn't the opposing objectives of the two ideas constitute a sort of trap, one for the other?
Or, at the very least, would the one's objectives not indirectly or directly contaminate those of the other in an unfair manner?
No matter how unlikely the likelihood of this happening, should it be risked? Especially when we remember how tortuous the anti-galamsey journey has been so far for the country, with really illustrious individuals falling as casualties on the way? Have we stopped creating and spreading rumours about the involvement of "big men" in galamsey?
Didn't the originators of the new idea realise that the one project (the older one) could spread powerful wings over the other (fledgling one) and smother it at birth?
Was it not naive of the originators of the “Asanteman Task Force” to fail to take account of the well- known dirty “politics” prevalent in the anti-galamsey struggle?
At the psychological level, did they not recognise the nature of the “power" which the possibility of possessing gold exerts overall and sundry who come into close contact with that commodity?
One asks again: to how many "Honourable” individuals likre (Ministers Mi+ (Ministers, Deputy Ministers, municipal chief executives and district chief executives) had the President of the Republic not entrusted the anti-galamsey campaign? And how many of them had not been more or less destroyed by the deceptive galamsey bug? (I could name some but won't!)
What about Party “highups”?
Hadn't part of the machinery of Manhyia already burnt its fingers over the anti-galamsey conundrum when some chiefs, during the absence from the country of Otumfuo, ordered the closing down of a radio station because the owner of the station had allegedly “insulted” Asante chiefs for being incapable of fighting to kill galamsey?
Didn't itr appear to Manhyia that it was contradictory for some of the chiefs to claim to have “no power” to fight galolamsey, yet somehow find "power” to order the closing down of the "insolent" radio station? From where did they get the “power" to ban the owner of the radio station from Asante lands?
I recount these somewhat farcical occurrences to demonstrate that gold can deprive perfectly decent people of their proportion. It can also turn sages into knaves.
Remember the story of King Midas? He wasn't a bad sort at all – he probably wanted to be able to turn everything he touched into gold for good reasons!
Maybe, he even deceived himself into believing that his plan was meant to distribute gold free of charge to all the poor people in his kingdom!
But when he did get his wish granted and everything he touched turned to gold, what did happen?
He couldn't eat or drink!
Because everything he touched turned into gold. Just as he had asked for!
Including food and drink!
So, the power of gold, (Aesop the story-teller warned us thousands of years ago) was not to be toyed with.
The Otumfuo's “good coin” project has its excellent objectives. Leave it alone to separately pursue those objectives and improve upon realising them.
If the Task Force needs to be reinforced, in terms of seed money, let the funds be made available, by the gold coin project, But after that, let it keep its distance far from the Task Force.
Gold contamination is certainly easy to cause in a society as greedy and corrupt as ours.
What did gold do to our Minerals Commission?
Gold turned the Commission into a blnd body that ignored its constitutional obligation to send all agreements relating to mining for approval by Parliament.
Instead, the Commission went ahead and issued licences to so-called “small-scale artisanal miners. Before it was aware, the “small-scale” miners had taken over our rivers and streams, as well as our forest reserves. And they had miraculously acquired excavators and bulldozers and the magical power to convey such vehicles to galamsey sites, on the "blind side" of our numerous police road-blocks!
We now live in a nation whose President says he detests galamsey; whose chicfes say the same thing and whose citizens often go on TV to complain that their kinsmen are suffering from various diseases caused by water polluted by galamsey activities.
Their offspring also suffer from the drinking of polluted water, they tell us. Some newly-born babies are said to be without noses and other vital organs, thanks to mercury and cyanide in the water their mothers drank from polluted rivers riddled with poisonous mercury and cyanide.
Haven't we learnt anything from all of this?
Must we continue deceiving ourselves?