Sunday, January 14, 2018



ANGEL OF SANITATION

As enlightened souls 
Adore the universal beauty
Of global diversity in creation
The DIVINE INTELLIGENCE
Dispatch His Angle of Sanitation
To sanitise those hearts
Still smearing humanity
With myopic racial latrine
To experience the beauty
Of diversity in creation
For the advancement of
Mankind in 2018
SO BE IT!

Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath

14/01/2018

abissath@gmail.com

Tuesday, January 2, 2018



THANKSGIVING

How do creatures
Give thanks to their Creator?
How can beneficiaries 
Thank their benefactors?
For we have your thanks
Streaming in our hands
Your honour brimming 
In our hearts with thanks

Too low voices we have
To blow glories you deserve
We commission a cock
Not an ordinary cock
But a divine cock
A cock that can glow
Crow and blow
Our thanks to you

At dawn tomorrow
Before the cock's crow
Receive our story 
Our thanks with glory!

Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath
(Black Ideas)

NB: This poem was composed in 1988. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

GALAMSEY LAND RECLAMATION PROJECT: DON’T IGNORE GHANAIAN MEDIA

By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath

A sample of land reclamation project
A traditional wisdom is reflected in this African proverb: If two people set a trap, it is the two that inspect the trap.

Philosophically, the significance of the above proverb is what can be interpreted as ‘transparency, probity and accountability’. Even though there may be no written documentary evidence to show who, what, when, how and why this particular proverb was coined, it can be deduced that African ancestors detested corruption.

In this article, I intend to make some observations about the efforts being made by government since January 2017 to eliminate illegal mining in the country.  I will place premium on the role the Ghanaian media played thus far, and for which reason government should always carry the media along as partners in the fight against galamsey.

The point must be made that all governments since the 1992 Republican Constitution have made efforts to fight galamsey or illegal mining in one way or the other. For example, in May 2013, Ex-President John Dramani Mahama inaugurated a high-powered inter-ministerial committee, dubbed Anti-Galamsey Task force to find permanent solution to galamsey once and for all.

Disappointingly, however, that task force could not live up to national expectation. It appeared the Mahama government could not muster courage to provide the needed political oxygen for the anti-galamsey task force under his command to combat the galamsey menace. As we say, the rest is history.

Enter Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government 2017.  Apart from a personal commitment demonstrated by President Akufo-Addo to take the bull by the horn in combating galamsey, the Ghanaian media made things a bit easier for Akufo-Addo than Mahama. For example, the official launch of Media Coalition against Galamsey spearheaded by the Graphic Communications Group Limited on April 4, 2017 was exceptional. Mahama administration never enjoyed such massive media support.

Nevertheless, Akufo-Addo’s personal commitment towards the elimination of galamsey was beyond compare. For instance, on July 10, 2017, the President addressed traditional authorities at a galamsey forum here in Accra and made an unthinkable declaration that stunned the political world:  “I put my presidency on line for the fight against galamsey.” In other words Akufo-Addo was prepared to lose elections rather than allow galamsey operators to destroy the national heritage bequeathed to us by our ancestors, as he put it.  That declaration was heroic indeed! And he told the Nananom in the face that, as custodians of lands in Ghana, they could not stand and stare while galamsey operators were destroying lands and polluting rivers with impunity.

 Even before the media coalition campaign against galamsey took off, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John-Peter Amewu on behalf of government, did a yeoman’s job by single-handedly junketing some galamsey-ravaged regions where he made life uncomfortable to some illegal miners. In fact, his unilateral embargo on galamsey operations and withdrawal of all bulldozers and other galamsey equipment from rivers and water bodies was action that dealt a deadly blow to some recalcitrant illegal miners. He merits some commendation.

On Monday, July 31, 2017 government launched the now famous “Operation Vanguard”. The Operation Vanguard was made up of 400 contingent of armed soldiers and police officers to combat galamsey. The setting up of the Operation Vanguard   was seen as the apogee of Akufo-Addo government’s tenacity to terminate galamsey once and for all. It is pragmatic and commendable.

Since the Operation Vanguard came into force approximately five months now, some appreciable successes have been achieved. Of course, there were challenges here and there. At least one typical achievement one can cite for the purpose of this article is the transformation of most muddy and polluted rivers that could not be treated by the Ghana Water company before. Again, most farmlands and forest that were devastated are gradually being reclaimed and replanted with trees.

Galamsey Reclamation Fund
On Monday, November 13, 2017, media reports had it that the government had launched what was dubbed as ‘Galamsey Reclamation Project’. According to a Daily Graphic news story,(see page 29 of that day’s edition), the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John-Peter Amewu, launched the galamsey reclamation project at Kyebi in the East Akim Municipality of the Eastern Region.

It was explained that the project would involve clearing excavated materials back into pits that had been dug by the illegal miners to be followed by the planting of trees to restore the destroyed vegetation. The Lands Minister was reported to have hinted that government would constitute a committee of key stakeholders to oversee the execution of the project.

Mr Amewu was reported to have disclosed that it was estimated that about four per cent of the country’s land size, totaling about 238,000 kilometer square (km2) have been destroyed by illegal miners. It was revealed that Kyebi and its surroundings alone “play host” to 18 of such illegal mining sites.
Experts in land reclamation projects estimated that for every hectare of land destroyed by galamsey operators, our beloved country will have to cough at least 60,000 Ghana cedis to reclaim it. In fact, the Land Minister lamented that the extent of damage caused to the land, what the country requires in total to put the vegetation back to normalcy is far in excess of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Government should ensure that this galamsey “nonsense|” is eliminated once and for all. And in view of the tremendous role the media played in the fight against galamsey, whosoever  stakeholders government may want to engage for fund raising  funds activities for  the Galamsey Reclamation Project, the Ghanaian media must not be ignored.  

The author works with Information Services Department (ISD) abissath@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

GHANA’S REDD+ STRATEGY FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath

Part of efforts being made by Ghana towards REDD+ strategy
An African proverb says: “A man’s greed leads to the destruction of the environment.”

Basically, the term  REDD+ or REDD-Plus simply refers to “reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries.”

Environmental experts are of the view that Climate Change may become a single most daunting stumbling block to the attainment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This explains why all nations with vision on this planet of environmental degradation ought to ratify and comply with Paris Agreement adopted at the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21), November 30-December 12, 2015 in France.

In this article, I intend to focus on efforts being made by Ghana, as a signatory to the Paris Agreement, with particular reference to the fight against deforestation and forest degradation, which the country finds to be critical to its successes of tackling Climate Change.

On Thursday, 19th October 2017, Ghana hosted its 2nd National REDD+ Forum on the theme “Strengthening Law Enforcement for Effective REEDD+ Implementation.” That Forum was addressed by no less a person than the President of the Republic Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo here in the nation's  capital Accra.

The Ghanaian President used the occasion to underscore the fact that, as a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC), Ghana initiated a process of reducing considerably greenhouse gas emission from deforestation and forest degradation, while at the same time encouraging tree planting projects in the country.

The President reiterated the commitment of his government towards every action that prevents forest degradation and deforestation, and also increases the country’s forest cover. President Akufo-Addo did not mince words when he told conference participants that his government was fighting the menace of illegal mining popularly known as “galamsey’ because of its negative effect on the environment in the country

“Our fight against the illegal mining phenomenon, also known as galamsey, is a case in point. In the 2016 Manifesto of my party, the New Patriotic Party, we indicated strongly our commitment to reforestation, forest rehabilitation and forest protection activities, realizing that forest cover has been depleted significantly in the last two decades,” the President noted.

According to the President, Ghana intends to undertake massive forest plantations, with both indigenous and exotic tree species, and also develop the bamboo and rattan industry, as they would serve as effective substitutes for furniture and other wood products in the country. He urged farmers and local communities not to allow illegal logging and mining to continue, and charged Security agencies on the roads, ports and borders not look on unconcerned and allow illegal timber products just to pass without confiscation or with corrupt purpose.

In Ghana, one institution that is mandated to watch over the nation’s forests is the Forestry Commission. And if the Forestry Commission could live up to its responsibility, of course, when provided with the requisite logistics, to enforce relevant laws, the devastation of forests by illegal loggers would be minimized. In other words, illegal mining and unsustainable harvesting of forest products are some factors that contribute to climate change in our country.

It is the considered opinion of his author that the fight against climate change should not only be left to governments. It should be seen as a shared responsibility among  citizens, civil society, institutions and organisations, the youth and what have you? For example, in Ghana the media have been playing a tremendous role in the fight against galamsey. The role of the mass media in awareness creation through advocacy and sensitization of the public about issues of forest preservation in particular and environmental protection in general is sine qua non 

Another group of people or professionals whose role is crucial for the fight against climate change is the judiciary. It appears that punishments and penalties prescribed by the laws of the land against environmental offenders are not deterrent enough. For example, the convener of the Media Coalition against Galamsey, Mr. Kenneth Asigbey, who, until recently was the Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), had a cause to express dissatisfaction about punishment meted out to illegal mining related offenders.

Mr Asigbey cited cases where some galamsey offenders arrested by the Operation Vanguard task force who were taken to courts were fined to pay some amount of money that was nothing to write home about. He contended that if illegal miners who are making huge profit out of their illegal activities that are destroying forests, devastating farmlands and polluting rivers are asked to pay some insignificant amount of money and go scot free, then it is the nation that will suffer in the long round. Mr Asigbey appealed to the Chief Justice to take a second look at the laws and advise members of the Judiciary to prescribe stiffer punishments to perpetrators of illegal forest destroyers and as well as galamsey operators.

Indeed, at the recently held 2nd National REDD+ Forum, Ghana’s Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, lamented that illegal mining has contributed immensely to the destruction of the country’s forest and the pollution of its water bodies. 
According to the Minister, research has shown that some health related problems in the country like dementia, and other diseases are on the increase due to some chemicals like mercury being used by galamseyers in their activities. How can a country achieve sustainable development goals if illegal mining and destruction of forests and rivers are affecting the people’s health? 

The good news, however, is that, at REDD+ Forum, Ghana’s Chief Justice, her ladyship Sophia Akuffo, was present and asserted that her outfit will ensure speedy trial of culprit who (engage in illegal mining) to serve as a deterrent for would-be law breakers.

Ghana’s efforts at reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) emerged in global climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC) as far back as 2005.  The strategy or mechanism was aimed at incentivizing tropical forest countries to reduce their emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. 

Ghana must not lose guard but maintain and sustain this effort if the nation will want to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030.


The author works with the Information Services Department ISD in Accra abissath@gamil.com

Monday, September 11, 2017

Operation Vanguard  Saviours Of Our Environment- Our National Heroes

By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath

Ministers and Security Chiefs (seated) in group photo with 
Operation Vanguard Contingents 
The wisdom of our ancestors is reflected in this popular proverb: “When you kill a snake, you must cut off the head at once!”
How beautiful and wonderful is nature! Each dawn, when you stand with your back towards the West, you behold the golden sun rising from the geographical East.  As the sun emerges gently, its rays smile at you with Life, Light and Love (LLL). Like the Creator, the sun doesn’t discriminate against any creature or being. Oceans, rivers, forests, flowers, beasts, birds, butterflies, rocks, and all other minerals that dwell in the belly of our Mother Earth, are all placed at the disposal of mankind. Yet, man, out of sheer greed and avarice, takes nature for granted.
 In Ghana, our land is even endowed with more blessings than some other nations. However, because we think we are hungry, we take delight in vicious destruction of our environment. In the process, we are devastating our forests, ravaging our farmlands, polluting our rivers and contaminating our water bodies in the name of galamsey or illegal mining. If our choice as a people is to destroy our blessings of nature, then why don’t we invite Hurricane IRMA to come and do that job for us? Look at the catastrophic havoc of natural disasters in places like Sierra Leone, the US, Cuba and the Caribbean etc.     
The object of this article is to salute and express national appreciation to our compatriots who are assigned to undertake the Operation Vanguard ventures. I say ventures because theirs is a risky job indeed. Their very lives are at stake. Some achievements they are reported to have chalked up so far merit commendation, even though they still have a lot more to do.  
It was exactly on Monday, July 31, 2017 that Government commissioned a 400-member military cum police friendly contingents to combat illegal mining across the three most galamsey ravaged zones in the country. These are Ashanti, Eastern and Western Regions. Earlier, on April 4, 2017, thanks to the launch of the Media Coalition against galamsey, spearheaded by the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), the conscience of the nation was stirred to the environmental havoc galamsey was causing to rivers and water bodies in the country. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo then vowed to eliminate galamsey menace to preserve our national heritage, even at the peril of his government.       
Success story of the Operation Vanguard so far
On Tuesday, September 5, 2017, a high-powered delegation led by Ghana’s Hon. Defence Minister, Dominic Nituwul, including the Hon. Interior Minister, Ambrose Dery, the Chief of Defence Staff, Lt Gen Obed Akwa and other security chiefs, paid a working visit to the Operation Vanguard officers to ascertain at firsthand, some of their achievements and challenges confronting them on the grounds. The working visit took them to Tarkwa in the Western, Obuasi in the Ashanti and Osino in the Eastern Regions respectively.
The Operation Vanguard Commander, Colonel William Agyapong, in his briefing, told the security authorities that the galamsey operators had diverted the course of many rivers that no longer flow normally for the people to get water to drink. In fact, the Commander made a cogent point to the effect that galamsey operations had led to virtual extermination of aquatic life. So much so that, some children of today in galamsey communities may not know that fish do live in rivers, (fresh fish). Is this situation not pathetic?
The Commander further reported that some of the illegal miners were still operating in deep waters. Such ‘amphibian’ illegal miners, he said, were using canoes for the galamsey operations. As a result, they were able to ‘out-smart’ some members of the task force who could not swim to escape arrest. Col Agyapong, therefore, appealed to Government to quickly deploy on board personnel from the Marine Police and the Ghana Navy to protect water bodies and consolidate the gains so far achieved by Operation Vanguard patriotic compatriots.
Generally, Nituwul delegation was not only satisfied but also highly impressed by the performance of the Operation Vanguard officers so far. Apart from the operational commander’s briefing, it was observed that gradually but steadily, most chiefs and residents of galamsey-devastated communities are warming up towards the Vanguard environmental protectors. People are gaining trust and confidence that the soldiers and police officers are not there to brutalise them but to protect them and safeguard their own future environmentally and economically.  
Media reports had it that some opinion leaders including Members of Parliament, chiefs, assembly members and religious leaders in the galamsey communities were full of praise to the Operation Vanguard officers. For example, in Obuasi, a Member of Parliament, Hon. Dr Boakye Yiadom, (MP) is reported to have expressed satisfaction about the performance of the vanguards in his constituency. “Our town is stable now. Not only because they are helping in curbing the galamsey menace, but have also ensured that security in Obuasi is tightened,” he noted.
According to Dr Yiadom, his own assessment indicates that, the deployment of the military cum police to the illegal mining zones has sent a strong signal to those destroying the environment and polluting water bodies that government is committed to ending galamsey once and for all. The MP pointed out that the Operation Vanguard is killing two birds with one stone. All other criminals, who hitherto, have been terrorizing residents of Obuasi, have evaporated into thin air, the MP opined.    
Within a relatively short span of seven weeks, since the Operation Vanguard action took off, some of their achievements cannot be quantified in real terms. The very first achievement this writer observed was that within the first two weeks of their operations, some of the muddy rivers have been transformed and the Ghana Water Company announced publicly that they were now able to treat water at minimised cost as compare to previously.
Again, when the President embarked on regional tours to Western and Central Regions in August, 2017, some chiefs and communities leaders including women, especially in the Central Region, where the task force was not originally deployed, appealed to the Present to dispatch Operation Vanguard saviours to their region too. The people reported to the President that some illegal miners were operating deep in forest reserves and still polluting rivers in their region, despite the ban imposed by the Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Mr. Peter Amewu, some months back. The popular request made to the President was an indication that the Operation Vanguard venture was achieving its stated objectives.
Special Galamsey Lands and Rivers Restoration Fund
It is commendable to learn that the Defence Minister and his delegation donated an amount of GHc 34,000 on behalf of Government to serve as incentive to boost the morale of the Operation Vanguard contingents in the field. This is fantastic!
 However, since Government’s intention is to maintain the Operation Vanguard on the grounds   for only God knows how long; for sustainability sake, and in view of the fact that the work of   the military and police officers is in the interest of our national heritage, it is suggested that Government, through the Inter-Ministerial Anti-Galamsey Task Force, chaired by the Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, should set up a special Fund.
The Fund could be known as Galamsey Lands and Rivers Restoration Fund (GLRRF). Individuals and corporate bodies including the mighty mining companies, some of whom are equally guilty in one way or another of environmental pollution, can contribute to this Fund. The Fund should not only be used for the motivation of Operation Vanguard compatriots, but also for the land reclamation and tree planting project for environmental sustainability of the country.  
Further, I wish to humbly suggest that, with the constitutional powers vested in the President of the Republic as the Commander-in-chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, the President must consider the creation of one highest national award like the Star of the Volta. This award could be designated as the National Environment Heritage Heroes Award (NEHHA) to be conferred on each of the 400 contingents of the Operation Vanguard at the end of their mission. This should be done in recognition of their sacrifices for the sake of posterity!

The author works with Information Services Department (ISD) abissath@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

 Galamsey fire dragons must not dare cool ocean octopuses

By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath

How illegal miners take risks to endanger their lives
Our ancestors used their native wisdom to caution: “Never put your finger tip into the fangs or mouth of a snake that does not bite.”
On Monday, July 31, 2017 the youthful Ghana’s Defence Minister, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul demonstrated the wisdom of King Solomon when he wisely advised residents of galamsey ravaged communities in the country not to provoke soldiers and police officers being assigned to their areas. He gave the warning in the lions’ den at the Burma Camp in Accra where over 400 dreadful looking combined contingents of armed soldiers and police officers had gathered for the official launch of was dubbed as “Operation Vanguard”.
The world-acclaimed heart surgeon and Ghana’s Environment Minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng who is also the Head of President Akufo-Addo’s Cabinet body of responsible eminent Ghanaians presented government’s strategy of tackling the galamsey challenges. Earlier on July 10, 2017 the President addressed a galamsey forum of traditional authorities in Accra and announced that plans were afoot to ‘arrest the galamsey menace and preserve our heritage’, as he put it.  
In this article, I shall pretend to be seen as one of the Environmental ‘Watch Dogs’ of Ghana, and add my  insignificant voice to that of the Defence Minister to humbly appeal to our brothers and sisters in galamsey devastated communities to respect the authority of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. They should be mindful of the fact that the President has put a rope around the neck of his presidency, and vowed to stop illegal mining in Ghana once and for all.  All law-abiding galamsey engineers should heed the Defence Minister’s call and do nothing to provoke the already disturbed peace loving Ghanaian soldiers. Please do not dare them! They not there to brutalize you, but to protect you and the future of your children yet unborn.  
 “The entire country is behind the 400 soldiers and police officers to be stationed across three regions, namely Ashanti, Eastern and Western,” the Defence Minister reiterated. Then he cautioned repeatedly that no seven-headed-fire-spilling galamsey dragon should provoke the sleeping octopus in the person of the calm, cool and self-disciplined peaceful Ghanaian soldier. Ghanaian soldiers don’t like ‘gidigidi’or ‘basabasa koraaa oooo’! I beg you oooo! But if you attempt to put your finger into their nose, they will not smile at you at all. I know them very well!
 Other authorities who spoke for the Commander-in-Chief on that occasion included the Interior Minister, Hon. Ambrose Dery, the Environment Minister as mentioned above, and the Minister for Information Mr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid was there. Many people might not know the role Mr. Abdul-Hamid has been   playing behind the scene for the success story of the Media Coalition against galamsey so far.
Above all, the Chief of Dense Staff Major General Akwa and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. David Asante-Apeatu all spoke to the military cum police battalion against galamsey at the Burma Camp Operation Vanguard launch ceremony. They all gingered but urged the contingent to be fair but firm and carry out their duties a professionally as possible. “You are not there to brutalize the people”, they were reminded.  “But you reserve the right to defend yourselves with commensurate force if your lives are put at risk”. They were also cautioned not to allow their selfish interest to blind them in  collecting  mouth-watering gifts from powerful galamsey pay masters.   
The fate that befell the late Major Mahama at Denkyira Obuasi is still fresh in Ghanaians’ minds. This is why our brothers and sisters of galamsey kingdoms should not play any tricks with soldiers and police officers on duty in their communities. 
The truth is that Government is not saying that unemployed hungry youth should not engage in small-scale mining to feed themselves and their loved ones.  NO! No Government of Ghana has ever denied Ghanaian citizens the right to engage in small scale mining. What they have always said, and which Nana Akufo-Addo’s government is also stressing is that, if you are a Ghanaian and wants to engage in small-scale mining, please do so in accordance with the laws of the land. If care is not taken it is only lawlessness that may lead this peaceful country into a ditch one day. “Torfiakwa!” As for foreigners, whether you are from America, Australia, China, Burkina Faso or Nigeria, please keep your contaminated galamsey hands off Ghana’s small-scale extractive industry. Period! The lawd do not permit you to do so.
The law governing operations of small-scale gold miners
The Small-Scale Gold Mining Act, 1989, (PNDC Law, 218) among other things stipulates, …“A person licensed to mine gold under this Act may win, mine and produce gold by aneffective and efficient method and shall in the operations observe good mining practices, health and safety rules, and pay due regard to the protection of the environment.”
This Act was issued as far back as on19th day of April, 1989 and notified in the Gazette on 2nd June, 1989. It has been in operation for nearly 30 years now without “wahala.”  Why must it take Government to deploy 400 strong battalion of soldiers and police officers today to enforce this law as if Ghana was going to war against some terrible terrorists from unknown planet? Something must have gone wrong somewhere. And our elders say: “A child, who doesn’t want the mother to sleep, will also not sleep either.
Since April this year when the Media coalition against galamsey advocacy was launched under the leadership of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), the entire media in Ghana have proved beyond doubt that, it is not for nothing that Edmund Burke, a member of the House of Commons of the then Great Britain, in parliamentary debate, described the press as ‘the Fourth Estate of the realm or governance in 1787.  Thus, any person or group of persons who joke with the media do so at their own peril. Have you heard the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword?”
Why should Ghana be like any war-torn country?
It appears because some people of modern Ghana have never seen war with their naked eyes before,  they seem to wish  Ghana could go to war against itself one day.  But Ghanaian soldiers who have been participating in UN Peace-keeping operations since 1960s the know the anatomy of wars. So, they have been praying that their country should never experience wars.
 It is alleged that a certain group calling itself Association of Small Scale Miners in the Ashanti Region had threatened that “Ghana will be like Ivory Coast if they prevent us from visiting our sites”. It was against that background that Ghana’s Defence Minister issued a stern warning that residents of ravaged galamsey communities should not provoke our brothers and sisters in uniforms when deployed.
In Ghanaian culture, it is believed that when an elderly person is in the house, children are not allowed to engage in deadly fighting that may lead to maiming or killing of one another. The Ga will rhetorically ask: “Onukpa be dzen loo”? The Akan would say: “Opany ni fieho aanaa”? And the Ewe would put it this way: “Tsoo – ametsitsiadeke mele afima oo haaa?”
I have laboured to quote these traditional idiomatic expressions in their respective local dialects, even though the spellings might not be perfect. But the philosophy behind them is for the attention of Ghanaian traditional authorities. I wish to politely refresh their memories that when the President addressed them at the galamsey forum on July 10, 2017, he appealed to them to support him to eliminate galamsey.
Nana opined that, because traditional authorities are the custodians of all lands in Ghana, they have a responsibility to help stop galamsey.  As the elders of the nation, traditional authorities cannot sit down unconcerned while the youths in their communities may attempt to confront or provoke soldiers and police officers stationed in the areas of galamsey operations. They should remember Denkyira Obuasi.
Suggestion for consideration
First, all paramount chiefs in galamsey-prone regions should quickly summon their sub-chiefs and inform them about the coming of the anti-galamsey friendly battalions. Then the sub-chiefs in turn, should hold durbars or town hall meetings for their people, especially the youths and counsel them accordingly. They should reason out with them that Ghana Government is not against them. Rather, Government’s actions are meant to protect them and the future of their own children to get good food to eat, potable water to drink and fresh air to breathe.
 Thus, when they see the soldiers and police officers coming, they should run away, rather go towards them and make them “aaatuuu” like the savior. They should help them to flush out all illegal miners be they local or foreigners. But for heaven sake, they should not provoke the soldiers and police officers who are their fellow Ghanaians.

The author works with Information Services Department ISD abissath@gmail.com

Friday, August 4, 2017

THOSE GALAMSEY DEMONS MUST OBEY THE ORDERS OF OUR COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF OR ELSE...

By Mawutodzi Kodzo Abissath

Some of the galamsey combatants charged for action
Do you remember what happened to Satan and his bunch of demonic angels in heaven when they disobeyed the orders of God? (See Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-14).
And our elders say: “If you see evil and do nothing, or say nothing against it, it will destroy you.”  It is for this reason that, if for nothing at all, concrete measures taken by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces within six months of his administration to combat the evils of galamsey or illegal mining in Ghana are commendable. 
On Monday, July 31, 2017 the youthful Ghana’s Defence Minister, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul demonstrated the wisdom of King Solomon when he wisely advised residents of galamsey ravaged communities in the country not to provoke soldiers and police officers being assigned to their areas. He gave the warning in the lions’ den at the Burma Camp in Accra where over 400 dreadful looking combined contingents of armed soldiers and police officers had gathered for the official launch of what was dubbed “Operation Vanguard”.
The world-acclaimed heart surgeon and Ghana’s Environment Minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng who is also the Head of President Akufo-Addo’s Cabinet body of responsible eminent Ghanaians presented government’s strategy of tackling the galamsey challenges. Earlier on July 10, 2017 the President addressed a galamsey forum of traditional authorities in Accra and announced that plans were afoot to ‘arrest the galamsey menace and preserve our heritage’, as he put it.
In this article, I shall pretend to be seen as one of the Environmental ‘Watch Dogs’ of Ghana, and add my  insignificant voice to that of the Defence Minister to humbly appeal to our brothers and sisters in galamsey devastated communities to respect the authority of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. They should be mindful of the fact that the President has put a rope around the neck of his presidency, and vowed to stop illegal mining in Ghana once and for all.  All law-abiding galamsey engineers should heed the Defence Minister’s call and do nothing to provoke the already disturbed peace loving Ghanaian soldiers. Please do not dare them! They are not there to brutalize you, but to protect you and the future of your children yet unborn.
“The entire country is behind the 400 soldiers and police officers to be stationed across three regions, namely Ashanti, Eastern and Western,” the Defence Minister reiterated. Then he cautioned repeatedly that no seven-headed-fire-spilling galamsey dragon should provoke the sleeping octopus in the person of the calm, cool and self-disciplined peaceful Ghanaian soldier. Ghanaian soldiers don’t like ‘gidigidi’or ‘basabasa koraaa oooo’! I beg you oooo! But if you attempt to put your finger into their nose, they will not smile at you at all. I know them very well!
Other authorities who spoke for the Commander-in-Chief on that occasion included the Interior Minister, Hon. Ambrose Dery, the Environment Minister as mentioned above, and the Minister for Information Mr. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid was there. Many people might not know the role Mr. Abdul-Hamid has been   playing behind the scene for the success story of the Media Coalition against galamsey so far.
Above all, the Chief of Dense Staff Major General Akwa and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. David Asante-Apeatu all spoke to the military cum police battalion against galamsey at the Burma Camp Operation Vanguard launch ceremony. They all gingered but urged the contingent to be fair but firm and carry out their duties as professionally as possible. “You are not there to brutalize the people”, they were reminded.  “But you reserve the right to defend yourselves with commensurate force if your lives are put at risk”. They were also cautioned not to allow their selfish interest to blind them in collecting mouth-watering gifts from powerful galamsey pay masters. 
The fate that befell the late Major Mahama at Denkyira Obuasi is still fresh in Ghanaians’ minds. This is why our brothers and sisters of galamsey kingdoms should not play any tricks with soldiers and police officers on duty in their communities.
The truth is that Government is not saying that unemployed hungry youth should not engage in small-scale mining to feed themselves and their loved ones.  NO! No Government of Ghana has ever denied Ghanaian citizens the right to engage in small scale mining. What they have always said, and which Nana Akufo-Addo’s government is also stressing is that, if you are a Ghanaian and wants to engage in small-scale mining, please do so in accordance with the laws of the land. If care is not taken it is only lawlessness that may lead this peaceful country into a ditch one day. “Torfiakwa!” As for foreigners, whether you are from America, Australia, China, Burkina Faso or Nigeria, please keep your contaminated galamsey hands off Ghana’s small-scale extractive industry. Period! The laws do not permit you to do so.
The law governing operations of small-scale gold miners
The Small-Scale Gold Mining Act, 1989, (PNDC Law, 218) among other things stipulates, …“A person licensed to mine gold under this Act may win, mine and produce gold by an effective and efficient method and shall in the operations observe good mining practices, health and safety rules, and pay due regard to the protection of the environment.”
This Act was issued as far back as on 19th day of April, 1989 and notified in the Gazette on 2nd June, 1989. It has been in operation for nearly 30 years now without “wahala.”  Why must it take Government to deploy 400 strong battalion of soldiers and police officers today to enforce this law as if Ghana was going to war against some terrible terrorists from unknown planet? Something must have gone wrong somewhere. And our elders say: “A child, who doesn’t want the mother to sleep, will also not sleep either.
Since April this year when the Media coalition against galamsey advocacy was launched under the leadership of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), the entire media in Ghana have proved beyond doubt that, it is not for nothing that Edmund Burke, a member of the House of Commons of the then Great Britain, in parliamentary debate, described the press as ‘the Fourth Estate of the realm or governance in 1787.  Thus, any person or group of persons who joke with the media do so at their own peril. Have you heard the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword?”
Why should Ghana be like any war-torn country?
It appears because some people of modern Ghana have never seen war with their naked eyes before,  they seem to wish  Ghana could go to war against itself one day.  But Ghanaian soldiers who have been participating in UN Peace-keeping operations since the 1960s, they know the anatomy of wars. So, they have been praying that their country should never experience wars.
It is alleged that a certain group calling itself Association of Small Scale Miners in the Ashanti Region had threatened that “Ghana will be like Ivory Coast if they prevent us from visiting our sites”. It was against that background that Ghana’s Defence Minister issued a stern warning that residents of ravaged galamsey communities should not provoke our brothers and sisters in uniforms when deployed.
In Ghanaian culture, it is believed that when an elderly person is in the house, children are not allowed to engage in deadly fighting that may lead to maiming or killing of one another. The Ga will rhetorically ask: “Onukpa be dzen loo”? The Akan would say: “Opany ni fieho aanaa”? And the Ewe would put it this way: “Tsoo – ametsitsiadeke mele afima oo haaa?”
I have laboured to quote these traditional idiomatic expressions in their respective local dialects, even though the spellings might not be perfect. But the philosophy behind them is for the attention of Ghanaian traditional authorities. I wish to politely refresh their memories that when the President addressed them at the galamsey forum on July 10, 2017, he appealed to them to support him to eliminate galamsey.
Nana opined that, because traditional authorities are the custodians of all lands in Ghana, they have a responsibility to help stop galamsey.  As the elders of the nation, traditional authorities cannot sit down unconcerned while the youths in their communities may attempt to confront or provoke soldiers and police officers stationed in the areas of galamsey operations. They should remember Denkyira Obuasi.
Suggestion for consideration

First, all paramount chiefs in galamsey-prone regions should quickly summon their sub-chiefs and inform them about the coming of the anti-galamsey friendly battalions. Then the sub-chiefs in turn, should hold durbars or town hall meetings for their people, especially the youths and counsel them accordingly. They should reason out with them that Ghana Government is not against them. Rather, Government’s actions are meant to protect them and the future of their own children to get good food to eat, potable water to drink and fresh air to breathe.
Thus, when they see the soldiers and police officers coming, they should not run away, but rather go towards and make them “aaatuuu” like the savior. They should help them to flush out all illegal miners be they local or foreigners. But for heaven sake, they should not provoke the soldiers and police officers assigned to combat galamsey. The orders of the Commander-in-Chief of the Republic must be obeyed in the interest of Ghana.  Period!
The author works with Information Services Department ISD abissath@gmail.com