IT was opposite that the 20th anniversary of the Asantehene’s accession to the Golden Stoolshould have coincided with Easter Sunday, 21 April, 2019, the day of commemorating the “Resurrection” of Jesus.
As I watched the procession of chiefs and their retinues at Dwabrem, Manhyia Palace, to celebrate AkwasidaeKƐseƐ, I could not but wonder at the discipline with which every person at the gathering took his or her place. Such a huge crowd, and yet, everyone knew what to do.
It was a magnificent show. And OtumfuoOsei Tutu The Second showed great imagination in
compiling his guest list. The most impressive presence was that of the Vice-President of Suriname,
His Excellency Ashwin Adhin, resplendently turned out in an outfit familiar to Ghanaian eyes.
Why was his presence so special? It’s like this: there are many people in Suriname who speak Akan and observe Akan customs, traditions and even festivals. But they did not go to Suriname voluntarily. And it was good to see that despite the horrendous tribulations that took their ancestors there hundreds of years ago, the people still treasure their blood ties with us. Indeed, they welcomed Otumfuo to Suriname with fanfare in November 2018! Well, they have now crowned the relationship by sending their Vice-President to represent them at the 20th anniversary celebrations of Otumfuo.
It was a day to remember – for other reasons. Neighbours of the Asantes who, in the past, would have passed the other way if they saw an Asante coming, were now the “bosom” friends of the Asante King. The sitting President of Ghana, Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo, was, himself, heading a “presidential presence” that comprised both President John Kufuor and President John Mahama.
I wanted my heart to be completely satisfied as I watched the turnout. But I could not help asking myself, “How can a people who have managed to preserve such gifts as the great artistry on display – the invention of the drum language; the crafting of horns that accurately imitate human speech; alchemy that transforms gold into ornate ornaments for the arms, wrists, neck and skull – how could such a people have sat down and watched their own sons and daughters bring in foreigners to destroy the rivers and streams that give all of them life?
I asked: what would OkomfoAnokye have said, if he had been told that the riverbed of the Pra or Offin or Oti, had been turned upside down with machines called excavators and that chemicals more deadly than the menstrual emissions of women, were now polluting Tanoh kronkron? Mercury; cyanide, thiosulphate; copper: these now constitute a good part of the drinking water of Osei Tutu’s grandchildren! And – ALAS –we sit down and watch it happen?
Where are the asafo and kyirem groups bequeathed to us by our forefathers to be our defence against invaders and nation-wreckers?
In the era of our forefathers, if any person harmed the collective good, he or she was openly tried and if found guilty, punished according to the laws of the time. Sometimes, the punishment would extend to the the culprit’s ENTRIRE family! But who was to persuade anyone that it was a good thing to allow one person to endanger the lives of a million or two million people?
Armed robbers and wayfarers; rapists; kidnappers; murderers and spies knew what awaited them if and when they were caught. Today, it is the would-be punishers who assist law-breakers.
We have sat down for the ambassador of a country that knows the practice of diplomacy inside out, to come here and tell us that we are colluding with some nationals of his country to destroy our own nation!
This was the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Shi Ting Wang, speaking at a lecture organised by the Confucius Institute at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) on 16 April 2019.
The Ambassador rightly called on Ghanaians to acknowledge their role in the galamsey “menace”, if the fight against it was to be successful. Chinese nationals could not have identified gold concessions without the support of local people, he said. “We don’t know where your gold is, “the Ambassador continued. “We don’t issue visas too for the Chinese people coming to Ghana.Ghanaians issue the visas. Ghanaians aid the Chinese to where they can find your gold. Why are Chinese not doing illegal mining in South Africa, where there is also a lot of gold? [It’s]because they cannot do that there and the locals don’t support such illegalities,” the Ambassador stated.
Is Senior Minister OsafoMarfo listening? People in other countries don’t punish law-breakers because doing so can bring them “cash”. They punish law-breakers in order to warn others not to break the law!
In Ghana, it’s those who make the law, or people close to those who make or enforce the law, who assist other people to break it. We have the word of the top man in the Forestry Commission for that!
Indeed, it is widely known that the personnel of Operation Vanguard, as well as the Task Force of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) have faced frustration from the police and the prosecutors in the Attorney-General’s office, with regard to the prosecution of those arrested doing galamsey. Magistrates and judges to whom such law-breakers are taken, are also notorious for giving such offenders a mere slap on the wrists.
Unfortunately, the Government of Ghana is being mocked at, with respect to its enforcement of the anti-galamsey laws. It needs to save the situation quickly by (1) passing legislation, under a certificate of urgency, making the breach of galamsey laws punishable by a mandatory prison sentence of 5 years or more and (2) setting up a special prosecuting unit, made up largely of prosecuting lawyers recruited from outside the public service, to prosecute galamsey offenders quickly and ruthlessly.
For we face today is an existential threat to our children’s children. And we must not falter in eliminating that threat.
IMCIM is facing attacks from all over the place. One legislator even claims that the very existence of IMCIM is unlawful!
Is it not only in Ghana that you can get an MP worrying about the legality of an ad hoc Cabinet committee set up by the President to deal with a lethal threat to the populace?
I am sure that our wily President will read between the lines and realise that the attacks on IMCIM are the best evidence that IMCIM does stand a chance of stamping out galamsey. Yes – IMCIM’s sophisticated and ultra-modern approach to the job in hand is striking fear into the selfish gold-diggers. IMCIM therefore needs the people’s support against — undermining!
By CAMERON DUODU