The news from Cairo, where the conference on global warming has been taking place, is not comforting at all.
There has been bitter 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 the 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 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 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 has it, proverb goes: proverb goes: “Error! Filename not specified.[the wise person is spoken to in proverbs, not in plain words.]
I just drew attention to the fact that before the deer-catching festival can take place, the hunters of Winneba, working in 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 join” (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 PREVENTY 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 the Tuafo would take the remaining part. They would then “beat the bush” to flush the deer away 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 object of the Aboakyir hunt is to capture the deer alive, not to harm them. Similarly, large groups of able-bodied men beating drums and pots and pans and filling the air with war-songs, can frighten the lives out of galamseyers and so confuse them that they would run and leave their guns behind (if they have any”!). The whole idea is to engage in a “surprise attack!”
(By the way, such a surprise attack can be so effective that when one was unleashed on a British contingent that had been besieged in the fort of Kumase during the Yaa Asantewaa War in 1900, the British contingent became so confused 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 a in the dead of the night and you being so frightened and desperate that you would “assault” back the 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 they should use their brains to defeat the galamseyers. The other example I cited in my article last week 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, and the populace expected the British to seek a scientific way of curing the disease. Instead, however, all the British came up; with was to propose cutting out the diseased 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.
(In 1947, the British had established a “Gold Coast Cocoa Marketing Board” with which it creamed off money to “save” for the farmers (so the British said!) 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.)
Well, cutting out diseased cocoa trees seemed like another “trick” by the British, and the cocoa farmers, badly organised though they were, somehow managed to launch a countrywide campaign against the cutting-out of diseased trees. The campaign took the form, of harassing gangs of agricultural workers employed by the 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. Eventually, the Government agreed not only to pay compensation to farmers whose cocoa trees were cut out, but also, it introduced a “subsided” system of replanting cut-down-trees for the farmers. 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, go it will.
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.
By Cameron Duodu