‘So long as the head is intact, it will be given a hat to wear!’
The other day, a lady who had read the latest article I had written warning Ghanaians about the genocide they are inflicting on their unborn descendants by destroying their water bodies through galamsey, said to me: “Wobekasa abre!” (“You will talk and talk about it until you yourself get tired of it!”)
I took this to mean that she was — “generously” — warning me, in a not so subtle way, not to be “stupid” enough to carry on talking about the matter to people who had obviously blocked their ears.
But I read her right, for I know, only too well, the trick that Ghanaians use to lull their fellow citizens to be as apathetic about national affairs, as they themselves are.
So, I am afraid I gave her “concern” short shrift. No-one can discourage me from doing my utmost to save my grandchildren, who had no say in whether they should come into the world, from suffering from a shortage of clean water, when climate change overwhelms Planet Earth full blast, in the next few decades.
Do Ghanaians currently alive, want those who will follow them (10 or 20 years from now) to be driven out of their homes by the sort of forest fires that have been hitting California and other parts of the world and which are attributed to global warming?
Have Ghanaians heard that a group of mothers in Switzerland are contemplating lawsuits against their own Government, for allowing motor-cars and other machines that emit carbon dioxide, to poison the atmosphere to such an extent that the ice glaziers on the famous Swiss Alps and other mountains, are in danger of drying up?
Unlike the Swiss, we Ghanaians, of course, like to leave everything to our “Government” or “the Authorities”, while the rest of us live in a stupor, fuelled by complacency and laziness of mind.
Fortunately, some of us do realise that heads were put on our necks by Nature to think with, not merely to be used to go to sleep! No, we are in our supposed “folly” by the proverb that tells us that: “So long as the head is intact, it must be given a hat to wear!” [Eti ntee a, yennyae no ekye hye!]
It is sad to see that our media commentators and social media pundits are, to a large extent, fascinated only by the superficial elements in the Frimpong-Boateng document case, namely, who was named, what was said about them and other sensational aspects of the galamsey issue. This personalisation of issues is dangerous beyond belief. We must be serious and concentrate on policy issues and leave personalities strictly alone, where possible.
Few people have thought deeply about the implications of a report, written after a world-acclaimed man of science, had been handling a national crisis hands on for two years or more. He is telling us now, in black and white, that the Government of which he was a member, had slept on the job, when it comes to galamsey.
The Government had established “Operation Vanguard” to battle galamsey.
Operation Vanguard had failed!
Undeterred, the Government established Operation Vanguard Number Two.
That too failed!
But the Government wasn’t discouraged: it established Operation Halt.
Operation Halt went the same way as the previous attempts!
But – wait for it: Operation Halt (2) was next created!
Worse, even as Operation Halt (2) was finding its feet, a new policy called “Community Mining”, was announced.
Words words words words words!
Is the Government really unaware that words are the seeds of propaganda and that propaganda reigns where no serious action is to be expected or contemplated?
Not only that: words and technicalities are the inbuilt means of escape by criminals who take part in formulating policy. In this particular instance, whenever an “insider” who was a galamsey operator was caught, he immediately produced a piece of paper issued by the Minerals Commission authorising the galamseyer to carry out PROSPECTING for gold on certain lands.
But WHO was to ensure that the PROSPECTING licence was not used for ACTUAL SURFACE MINING?
Other ambiguities abounded in the execution of the anti-galamsey campaigns.
For instance: why should excavators be allowed near rivers and water-bodies, so long as they were not stationed within a certain stated distance in the locality? If it was stationed 200 yards away from the water in the daytime, could it not be moved to the water-body at night? How can the authorities tell exactly how and when it was used for operations?
Why should chanfangs (whose sole purpose is to dreg riverbeds and facilitate the washing of mud and pebbles to produce gold) be allowed on our roads at all, when we know that they are only being sent into the countryside to engage in galamsey? Hasn’t the Government seen the television pictures sometimes showing as many as ten chanfangs on a river? What does it think they are doing there? Why do the operators swim away when they see reporters?
Another issue is this: there was much fanfare made about certain parts of excavators being removed so that they cannot be used to work on water-bodies. Didn’t our Government realise that these parts could be replaced, so long as access to the machines could be clandestinely provided, by bribing, or intimidating those allegedly guarding the excavators?
Isn’t the Government aware that foreign embassies have been watching our hypocritical song-and-dance about ending galamsey and using the Government’s abysmal performance to assess whether our Government’s word can be trusted or not? Does the Government not realise that credibility is indivisible and that if the foreigners conclude that we don’t mean business when we say we are fighting galamsey, then we may also not mean business when it comes to other undertakings we make to them on policy issues?
Anyway, who can take seriously, the word of someone who is deliberately watching the slow destruction of such a treasured national asset as water resources? We want help with the establishment of educational institutions? Good. But what water will the students drink when foreign Governments have helped us to build schools for them?
Its simple logic, isn’t it? Can you run health posts and clinics without clean water? Can you fight the next pandemic if you are, in the meantime, allowing dirty water to infect your populace with serious water-borne diseases like cholera (to say nothing of poisons like mercury and cyanide that are emptied into water-bodies during gold extraction processes?)
In other words, the Government has no time to lose in re-creating confidence in its ability and WILLINGNESS to end galamsey.
And patriots in Ghana should not “get tired” of telling it so!
BY CAMERON DUODU