Ghana ‘amanfoↄ, our very survival is now at stake!

The news from Cairo, where the conference on global warming has been taking place, is not comforting at all.

There has been vigorous argu­mentation over what funds should be made available – how much to be paid by whom — to try and alleviate the effects of global warming on the Earth’s climate.

But almost every country now agrees that unless something very clever (scientifically) is done pretty quickly, the world’s climate will reach a stage where no-one can save the planet from being broiled alive, with every living thing on it.

It is in this context that the mad­ness of the people in Ghana who are DELIBERATELY destroying their country’s water bodies, becomes stark and inexcusable.

In this column last week, I called on our chiefs to rise up to the call of their communities and lead them to resist the onslaught of the wa­ter-murderers.

As could be expected, someone who calls himself educated, wrote a “rejoinder” to my piece, giving numerous reasons why the chiefs cannot respond to my call because the Central Government has taken away from them, the powers that they could use to arrest and punish the water-murderers.

Yet I had given examples to show that despite the machinations of the Central Government, the chiefs CAN organise their people to carry out assignments laid down for them by their ancestors years ago.

First, I cited the example of the aboakyir festival in Winneba.

I did not go into too much detail about what can be learnt by present generations from that festival because, as an ancient proverb has it, “Error! Filename not specified. A wise person is spoken to in proverbs, not in plain words.’’

I drew attention to the fact that before the deer-catching festival can take place, the hunters of Winneba, working in close and secret collaboration with other groups, such as trappers and food farmers, would exchange infor­mation about where the deer are likely to be found. They would then “case the joint” (that is, reconnoitre the territory to verify whether the deer are currently present there in fact.

This technique of doing “an initial recce” would come in useful for any community that was willing to PREVENT galamsey­ers from coming to their land to destroy their water-bodies and food farms.

At Winneba, the Dentsefo (Asafo group) would occupy one part of the forest, while their nominal rivals, the Tuafo, would hunt in the remaining part. They would then “beat the bush” to flush out the deer from their “hiding places” into the open. (Deer come out into the open when they are frightened).

Of course, when they come out into the open, they are more easily captured alive.

Now, please remember this: the whole object of the Aboakyir hunt is to craftily capture the deer alive, not to harm them.

Similarly, large groups of able-bodied men, beating drums and pots and pans at ungodly hours and filling the air with war-songs, can fright­en the lives out of galamseyers and so confuse them that they would run away and leave their guns behind (if they have any”!).

The whole idea would be to engage the galamsey mob in a guerrilla type“surprise attack!”

(By the way, such a surprise attack can be extremely effec­tive; so much so that when one was unleashed on a British con­tingent that had been besieged in the fort of Kumase during the Yaa Asantewaa War I, the British contingent became confused and witless that they brought out a phonograph machine and played a crackling version of “Rule Britannia” on it in reply! Just imagine Asante drums like atumpan and fontomfrom surrounding you in the dead of night and you being so frightened and desperate that you “assault” back the esoteric Asante army with the crackling notes of “Rule Britannia” played on an ancient phonograph”!

What this story illustrates is that warfare is carried out with brains as well as muscle. The galamseyers are at war with our communities in the countryside. And the commu­nities should use guile and superior strategies to defeat the galamseyers. Their ancestors confronted cannon guns with such wily techniques that a British general called Baden-Powell studied their warcraft and found­ed The Boy Scouts Movement on Asante principles of warfare when he got back to England. Excavators? Bulldozers? Pump-action shotguns? Our ASAFO groups,properly led and efficiently trained,would make mincemeat of them.

The other example I cited in my article last about how the chiefs could lead their people to defeat galamsey was the successful cam­paign carried out by Ghana’s cocoa farmers to get the British colonial government of the Gold Coast to change its policy of compulsorily “cutting out” cocoa trees that had been affected by the “swollen shoot” disease.

“Swollen shoot” was killing Ghana’s cocoa industry in the 1940s and 50s and the populace expected the British to seek a scientific way of curing the disease (by using curative chemicals, for instance. But instead, all the British came up with was to propose cutting out the diseased cocoa trees. This seemed to the cocoa farmers to be another British “trick” to deprive the cocoa farmers of their legitimate earnings from their cocoa crop.

(Another trick? Yes, because in 1947, the same British colonial Gov­ernment had established a “Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board” — an instrument through which it creamed off cocoa money, ostensi­bly to “save” it for the farmers when the world cocoa price was good, to use to top up the price for the farmers when the world price was low! But the price support mech­anism had never been used right up to the outbreak of the swollen shoot disease. The Cocoa Marketing Board’s surpluses were in fact infest­ed in Britain through the Crown Agents and apparently boosted the dollar holdings of the then ‘Ster­ling Area’ enormously!)

Well, cutting out diseased cocoa trees without the agreement of the cocoa farmers seemed like another “trick” to them and poorly organ­ised though they were, somehow managed to launch a countrywide campaign against the cutting-out of diseased cocoa trees. The cam­paign took the form of harassing gangs of agricultural workers employed by the colonial Govern­ment to forcibly enter cocoa farms and cut out diseased trees.

The “harassment” of the agricultural workers was not too violent, but it was rendered effec­tive by a psychological campaign that treated those who carried out cocoa-tree-cutting-out as “traitors” to their own communities. Labour­ers drawn from the non-cocoa growing areas were ostracised and subjected to abuse.

The campaign worked and even­tually, the colonial Government agreed not only to pay compensa­tion to farmers whose cocoa trees were cut out, but also, to introduce a “subsided” scheme whereby the replanting of cut-down-trees was done for the farmers by Govern­ment-employed labourers.

A lot of lessons can be learnt by the current Government, from that episode in Ghana’s socio-eco­nomic history, if it is really serious about ending galamsey.

The people of Ghana, too can learn from that bit of their history. If the cocoa farmers of the 1940s and 1950s had sat down and done nothing, there probably wouldn’t be a cocoa industry in Ghana to­day. The cocoa farmers used their brains to make a strong case, and obtained support from their com­munities. In the same way, if our communities, led by their natural leaders, decide that galamsey must be forced to go, techniques exist to make it go.

The water which our children and their children will drink in future, depends on what we do today. We don’t have much time, if we look seriously at the devastation that has already taken place on our rivers and in our food farms.

Indeed, being stupid and hypo­critical about galamsey, is definitely NOT an option for us. But idiots among us will continue to preach that we do not have the power or right to prevent gold-hungry vandals from destroying the water we must drink or die.

By Cameron Duodu

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