When I appeared on Asaase Radio’s Sunday Night programme with Nana Yaa Mensah on 2 May 2021, I expected the interview to sink into what I have called elsewhere, “The Black Hole of Ghana”.

But I was wrong.  Here, for instance, is an account of it  by a long-term resident of the UK,  Mr Ade Sawyerr:


Mr Sawyerr writes:  “The President of Ghana is not an emperor…… He  rules at the will of the people who elected him and does not wield absolute power….

“Today, I watched an interview of one of the celebrated Ghanaian journalists, a man of integrity – Cameron Duodu, adorned in red, and so, ready for war – talking about galamsey on Asaase Radio’s “Sunday Night.”

“I also watched a clip accompanying the discussion, showing a patchwork of craters filled with poisonous water, and wondered, like Cameron Duodu, how we got ourselves into this mess with all these layers of authority.

“He struck a chord when he lamented the destruction of his father’s farm at Asiakwa. He said he cried when he saw the devastation, and I believed him when I saw what has happened to our environment. I cried even harder when he told us this was not only about Asiakwa, but that the damage trails right into Kyebi.

“That hurt me for a different reason. Kathryn Firmin-Sellers claims, in her book The Transformation of Property Rights in the Gold Coast (published in 1996) that the Okyenhene [Nana Sir Ofori Atta The First] got it right when he set up a system which succeeded in protecting Akyem land from wanton and invasive exploitation by foreigners, in their search for our minerals.

“I had always used this to berate my Ga kinsmen that not only had the elite failed by not setting up a similar system, but we have not had an effective chief for as long as I can remember. So, the Sunday Night interview with Duodu got me thinking. If the [current Akyem] chiefs cannot prevent such wanton destruction of our environment in the crazed rush to exploit our rich mineral resources, then it must mean that the people have stopped listening to [the chiefs’] traditional counsel.

“Which led me to think further that there is nothing much that the government can do about it. The military? No way! Our soldiers are meant to protect the people of Ghana against invasion by a foreignarmy and really, they must not be introduced in any shape or form into civilian life….

“So, what is to be done? The answer came to me in a flash as I drove down Downsview Road in Croydon, in suburban Greater London, to a neighbour,  carrying some otinshinu that I’d got from Labadi Kitchen at the Kenley Factory in Lewisham.

“The people of Downsview are fighting their local council over permitted development! The council has allowed property developers into the leafy road and they are offering millions of pounds to houseowners so that they can transform the land around the homes by converting it into flats and make huge profits.

“The people have come together to fight the developers, all pledging that they will not sell their houses to developers, even though they stand to make millions by doing just that….

“And seriously, can we trust any government that is in a hurry to get the Chinese to own bits of Atiwa Forest, even if it is on a long beneficial lease? I could imagine the chaos if someone provided proof that there was gold under the earth in Accra! . . . Perish the thought!

I share many of Ataa Ade Sawyerr’s sentiments but disagree with him on one point: his narrow definition of what the military can be used for.  The Ghana armed forces were established to secure the holistic  “territorial integrity” of Ghana. It is not only an invasion by a foreign country  that can threaten that territorial integrity. If a band of lawless people – irrespective of their origins – decide to destroy the rivers, streams, lakes and other water-bodies of Ghana, which sustain the lives of the people, the miscreants ARE threatening the territorial integrity of Ghana, DE FACTO!

Indeed, Ghana cannot be A VIABLE Nation-state if all its water has been sucked dry by gold-digging activities. Those who destroy Ghana’s water sources are, in fact, worse than foreign invaders, because although foreign invaders may take over Ghanaian  territory and colonise the inhabitants, the inhabitants will survive if they are allowed to retain their water sources and their farmlands.

Indeed, when we were colonised by the British, we survived, and used our lands to grow cocoa, money from  which we used to educate our people, who learnt enough British law  to be able to wrest our country back for us again –  from the British!

The second point missed by Ataa Ade is that the civilian authorities are empowered to call on the armed forces to assist in a situation whereby a national emergency has occurred.  When the bomb-throwing incidents occurred in Accra in the early 1960s, the Nkrumah Government declared a state of emergency, imposed a curfew, and deployed soldiers onto the streets to enforce it strictly.

The threat to our water-bodies and farmlands posed by galamsey, puts us in a situation that is worse than anything we have ever faced. The very future of our nation, no less, is what is at stake. If you go into the Ghanaian countryside to see a landscape that you used to know intimately  (as I did at Asiakwa) and compare its current state to what it was like previously,  you’ll realise  that we are in the throes of a collective madness. We must terminate that situation by any means necessary.

And very very quickly too –  before rescuing the water-bodies and farmlands becomes impossible. For already, official estimates say that it will cost us twenty-two billion dollars to reclaim the water-bodies and farmlands already destroyed by galamsey.

I would also remind Ataa Ade that Ashanti Goldfields Corporation was founded at the beginning of the 20th century by nationals of the colonising power, BRITAIN. But the British colonial administration in the Gold Coast made sure that British company though it was, Ashanti could not carry out surface mining, nor was it permitted  to destroy the water-bodies and farmlands of the indigenous population. Ashanti’s deep shafts, however,  enabled it to become the single richest gold mine in the world. 

Now, if  the influential British shareholders of Ashanti, (such as the notorious Major-General Sir Edward Spears, respected war veteran and Member of the British Parliament) had dared to carry out harmful mining practices, they would have been carted off to jail. But we, faced with an unimaginably worse destruction, are afraid of punishing our ruthless  galamseyers, because some of them occupy important party and/or  government positions!

Are we not portraying ourselves as complete and utter idiots?




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