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Opinion | Feb 16, 2019

If You Behave Like A Fool, You Get Treated Like One

If You Behave Like A Fool, You Get Treated Like One

IIT was immensely instructive to read the comments attributed to the Deputy Chief of Mission of the Chinese Embassy in Ghana, Mr. Zhu Jing, at a round-table conference on illegal mining (galamsey) held in Accra by the Ghana Institute of Economic Affairs in Accra on 11 February 2019.

Eschewing the usual bland for which diplomats are noted, Mr. Zhu Jing observed that “The assertion that illegal mining [galamsey] is caused by Chinese [nationals] is a misconception, because the root cause of the menace lies in Ghana, and so any solution to it also lies in Ghana”. No Chinese national could engage in illegal mining without local collaborators, he pointed out.

Indeed, the attitude of some Ghanaians to the participation of Chinese nationals in galamsey is beyond comprehension. Compare the situation to our relationship with the United Kingdom, for example. We have had friendly relations with Great Britain for many many years. Thousands of Ghanaians live and work in the UK, and some are married to UK citizens. But the UK has not allowed these close and friendly ties to prevent the UK from enlisting Ghana’s active co-operation in ensuring that Ghanaian citizens who try to export cocaine and Indian hemp from Ghana to the UK are arrested at Ghana’s airports before the drugs get to the UK.

Of course, even if the drugs are successfully exported from Ghana, the UK’s own ports authorities spare no effort in seizing them before they reach the streets of the UK. Nevertheless, the UK is aware that if the drugs reach the UK, they might escape the UK’s anti-narcotics net, no matter how effective that net is. That’s why everything is done to prevent the drugs leaving Ghana in the first place. But is it the business of Ghana to be concerned with what happens in the streets of the UK? Of course, not. But problems tackled in a holistic manner stand a better chance of being solved.

Compare the UK’s attitude to the export of drugs to the UK from abroad to Ghana’s attitude to the importation of Chinese chanfans, for example, to Ghana. Before galamsey came to Ghana, no Ghanaian had ever heard of chanfans. However, few operations by the Ghanaian institutions charged with fighting galamsey ever take place today without the chanfans being seized and destroyed.

The question is: has the Ghana Government ever approached China and asked it NOT to allow the shipment of chanfans to Ghana from China?

Of course, not. I am sure it won’t even occur to the unimaginative Ghanaian institutions concerned to make such a request to China. Now, the use of drugs is considered as recreational in some circles in the UK. In the USA, some states have even begun to allow the private cultivation of wee, or grass, or Indian hemp, or ganja. But try to export these substances to the USA, and see.

What faces Ghana is infinitely more life-threatening than drug use. FOR IT IS OUR WATER-BODIES THAT ARE BEING DELIBERATELY AND SYSTEMATICALLY DESTROYED. With the aid of chanfans imported from China.

We send delegations to China all the time to negotiate for economic co-operation. But have we ever asked the Chinese to help our water-bodies to survive through –primarily – the banning of the export of chanfans from China to Ghana?

We have appointed an anti-corruption czar because we know how corruption and a lack of patriotism have eaten into our national institutions. No less a person than our President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has found it necessary to decry, for instance, the tendency of our judicial officers – magistrates and judge in particular – to hand down incredibly lenient sentences to the “water-murderers” in our midst, when these felons are arraigned before them. Did they take any notice of what he said? I doubt it.

Indeed, any person from a disciplined society like China’s will find it incomprehensible that Ghanaian Governments have allowed galamsey to cause the damage it has already done to the environment of Ghana. Listen to Mr. Zhu Jing:

QUOTE: “Illegal mining has caused terrible destruction to water and land in Ghana and appropriate measures must be put in place to deal with it. I was posted to Ghana about four months ago and after visiting some mining sites, I was shocked by what I saw.”

These words of the Chinese envoy need repeating: “I was shocked by what I saw.”

Yes, the only people who are not shocked bywhat we have allowed to happen to our rivers and streams, our forest reserves and our farms, are the selfish ingrates to whom money is more important than the survival of Ghana as a nation. And, of course, the judges and magistrates, the policemen and the prosecutors, who take money and allow the destroyers to get away scot-free or with minimal punishment. If had my own way, I would march all of them to the Rivers Pra, Ankobra, Oti, Offin, Densu, Birem and others to show them the wanton destruction they are ignoring.

Isn’t it a shame that we should wait for a Chinese diplomat to come and tell us that we are shifting the blame for the destruction of our own environment to Chinese people, whilst leaving untouched, the Ghanaian collaborators who bring the Chinese here and facilitate their ability to operate? Do we know what the Chinese would do if the situation were reversed and Ghanaians were caught in China fomenting, say, religious trouble? The importers of the religious fanatics would be fished out and sent to “education camps”.

Such re-education has become necessary in, for example, Xingjian Province in north-western China. because in the eyes of the Chinese authorities, an ethnic-Muslim minority of about 10m people, called the “Uyghurs”, are engaging in what amounts to religious/cultural rebellion against Chinese national policy.

If we show ourselves to be fools who do not know what is in our own interest, we shall be show up for what we are.

Welcome, Mr. Zhu Jing.

By CAMERON DUODU

Cameron Duodu
Cameron Duodu, © 2019

Martin Cameron Duodu is a United Kingdom-based Ghanaian novelist, journalist, editor and broadcaster. After publishing a novel, The Gab Boys, in 1967, Duodu went on to a career as a journalist and editorialist.

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