WHY GALAMSEY CAN CAUSE A PROSPECTIVE GENOCIDE IN GHANA 

I am afraid I have to warn again that we take our eyes off the  ball of galamsey at the risk of committing genocide –REPEAT GENOCIDE– against the generations that will follow us to dwell on this land, 50 years hence (if we are lucky) or less (if we are unfortunate). 

But GENOCIDE? An exaggeration, surely? 

I sincerely wish it were. This is how genocide is defined by the dictionary: 

“Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people … in whole or in part.” 

Now, – I have a 5-year-old grandson whose ability to argue occasionally leaves me completely stumped. 

“Grandpa, now that I am five years old, can I be allowed to….” and he would supply a word or term which describes something he had been told little kids of his age group were not allowed to do. 

“No, not yet”, one would glibly reply. 

“But” (he would retort) “I was told that I couldn’t do that when I was only four years old. Now I have grown to be fiveyears old! And I am still not allowed?” (Resentful pout in evidence at this stage!) 

How does one answer such logic? To him, the difference between four and five years of age is enormous. He’d waited a whole three hundred and sixty-five days for that age difference to materialise. Yet, now that – what to him – was “maturity” had arrived, the advantages he had hoped to join other “mature” people in enjoying, were still being denied to him! 

What would happen if a logic master like him were appointed a judge, 40 years from now, and the State of Ghana was brought before him on a charge of negligence, leading to genocide?

(Extracts from the Court Proceedings:)

(PROSECUTOR: Your Lordship, in the year 1989, “small-scale” (also known as “artisanal” miners) upon the acquisition of a licence from the Minerals Commission, were allowed to dig for gold on lands allocated to them. But in less than ten years, this “small-scale mining” had degenerated into large-scale enterprises whereby the simple tools used for small-scale mining – such as pick-axes and shovels and pans – were discarded and replaced with powerful earth-moving equipment. These machines have been causing not only total devastation on the land but also, churning up sand, pebbles and soil, from or riverbeds! 

Costly excavators, heavy earth-moving equipment, stone-crushers and a machine called changfan [imported from China] are used indiscriminately to turn our riverbeds upside down to bring up enormous quantities of soil, to be washed in search of gold. 

(JUDGE): Riverbeds? But that would constitute a flagrant breach of the various Environmental Protection Acts on our statute book? 

(PROSECUTOR):Exactly, My Lord; I was coming to that. They also defy the Immigration Act and smuggle skilled Chinese technicians into the country to take a leading part in the so-called “small-scale mining”, although, as Your Lordship is no doubt aware, that business had been reserved exclusively to Ghanaians!…

(JUDGE): Ah yes – I see in your Deposition numbered “A001”…? 

(PROSECUTOR): Yes, my Lord. Much obliged! It is the Prosecution’s case that agents of The Accused, acting severally in a corrupt manner, have deliberately ignored breaches of the laws they are supposed to enforce and have allowed foreign nationals, acting in collusion with “get-rich-quick Ghanaians”; 

1: To make huge tracts of land no longer suitable for cultivation for food to feed our growing population. The result is that mass starvation is now a distinct possibility in a future Ghana. Hence, my Lord, the grievous charge of genocide, starvation being one form of mass killing. 

2: To denude other similarly sizeable tracts of land, including Forest Reserves, of timber, some of which are most valuable, and are under legal protection, to save them from extinction. 

And, 

3: To expose every citizen of Ghana who has regularly drunk water from the affected rivers and streams over the past 20 years or so, to potential infection and death from various dangerous diseases. Symptoms of these deadly diseases include: muscle weakness; poor coordination; numbness in the hands and feet; skin rashes; anxiety; memory problems; trouble speaking; trouble hearing; or trouble seeing

(JUDGE): My goodness, Counsel! You’re telling the Court that no Ghanaian who has been drinking water from these poisoned rivers and streams can enjoy peace of mind from now on!? 

(PROSECUTOR): Exactly, My Lord! The irony is that those engaged in galamsey have more than enough money to buy bottled water and sachet water, whereas the victims of galamsey cannot afford what has become a “luxury” to them – water that is safe to drink! 

BY Cameron Duodu

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