[Alas, Is This Really The Sacred River Tano?]
The ancient people who left us this land we now call `Ghana” were so wise that when I came to matters that touched on the survival of their societies, they were extremely inventive and stern.
For instance, the trees that provided wood for making the drums with which the ancestors celebrated the festivals, commemorating the brave deeds that their warriors exhibited in driving enemies away and ensuring the survival of the society in its chosen habitude, were accorded 'human' status.
No-one was allowed to cut down such trees unless they first poured libation to seek the tree's permission before they could put an axe or cutlass to the trees. One such tree is called 'kodua tweneduro”. Every time as drummer started to play his drums – either in celebration or to alert the society to some danger – he was first obliged to salute the tree from which the drum was cut, before going on with the business at hand.
One tree was so sacred that it was called “Nyamedua” – God's tree, now, offending trees might bring harm to the society. `but it did not pose an immediate threat to life – such as polluted or dirty water could.
So the ancestors designated certain rivers (especially those that were so wide and drained such a huge area that polluting them would pose an existential threat to the society) – were accorded sacred status.
They were called 'kronkron' [pure, holy]. And women who were in their “period” could not cross such rivers. In the case of “River Tano” (one of the largest rivers in Asante) any woman who was in her period and crossed the river, would be executed—even if she crossed the river not on foot but by canoe!
Such a punishment would appear to be extremely harsh sand cruel – unless one considers the fact that modern scientists regard water-borne diseases as the most numerous and deadly in tropical countries.
Now, at a time when microscopes had not yet been invented, how did our ancestors fathom that water was the main carrier of such dreadful pestilences as dysentery, cholera, river-blindness and bilharzia?
Our ancestors wanted the law that prohibited the Tano from being polluted to become SACROSANCT to all the people. Hence the IMAGINATIVE, but rather gruesome punishment prescribed for polluting it. Who could forget this punishment, once he/she has heard about it from childhood?
Our ancestors handed over such acts of wisdom and knowledge they had gathered by empirical evidence, to us. But unfortunately, as soon as foreign conquerors brought their religious beliefs and practices to our shores, we jettisoned our native knowledge and embraced everything associated with the conquering culture that the Whiteman brought!
So, today, when you look at the horrendously polluted state of such major Ghanaian Rivers as “Ankobrah, Tano, Pra, Densu, Birem, Oti and others, you wonder whether it is creatures from outer space, who are created differently from humans and therefore do not know the uses of water, who are in control of our lives.
For it is difficult to believe that anyone who was born in Ghana and has drunk from our Rivers and Streams from childhood, would take part in taking excavators and bulldozers to our water-bodies to KILL THEM SO RUTHLESSLY.
IT IS AS IF THERE WERE NO GOVERNMENT IN GHANA TO STAMP OUT THE NONSENSE!
Please don't take my word for it. Just go to YOUTUBE, on the Internet, and
Joy newsdesk report Illegal miners take over river Tano in new galamsey onslaught
If you love Ghana, you will weep. For the effects of the destruction will not just apply to you and your children, but to your children's children. Indeed, there may never be a future state of Ghana at all.
AMA ATA AIDOO, DA YIE!
I had intended to devote today's column to the brilliant writer, Ama Ata Aidoo, who has left us unceremoniously, after a short illness.
But brilliant as she was, she would applaud my decision to continue drawing attention to the existential threat that galamsey poses to us and our offspring.
I knew Ama quite well and will be able, in the near future, to give my readers an idea of who she was.
In the mean time, I respectfully send my condolences to her family and friends.
May Ama rest in perfect peace.
By CAMERON DUODU