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What does it mean to be a Ghanaian?

Ghanaians   Flag A Ghanaian holding the country's flag

Sun, 31 Mar 2019 Source: Cameron Duodu

When I was a young journalist, I used to resent the constant trooping

of Ghanaian delegations to foreign countries, to attend conferences.

Couldn’t all that money be used to build schools, clinics and other things that our people needed? I wondered. And then I had to go on a delegation myself. I was in the company of a Nigerian, an Indian, a Somali, two Angolans, a Senegalese and a

Brazilian.

We visited many institutions in several countries, where we were

invariably invited to say something about our countries.

I found out that whereas only polite applause usually greeted the mention of

the names of the countries of the other people in my group, wild

cheers almost always greeted mention of the name Ghana.

This was because most of the missions and delegations Ghana sent

abroad at that time had been making excellent speeches on our quest for

freedom and our desire to co-operate with other countries to achieve

world peace and friendship.

The efforts of the delegations had won the friendship of the people

of many countries for Ghana. And so, whenever I was introduced to a

gathering, they knew the name “Ghana” and associated it with Africa’s

struggle for independence.

I learnt that as an individual, I mattered little to the rest of the

world. But “Ghana! … Ghana! Ghana!”, on the other hand, meant

something to almost every individual I met abroad who had heard of the

country.

No wonder I feel personally disgraced whenever anyone does something

that reflects badly on Ghana.

And that’s partly why I have taken the risk of sounding like a broken

record by writing constantly against the existence of galamsey in our

country.

To be perfectly honest, I just cannot see how it’s possible for a

human being equipped with the power of reasoning, not to be able to see how stupid it is to destroy our rivers and streams in search of gold.

Humans need good water to drink in order to stay alive. Yet

“human-Ghanaians” are deliberately destroying Ghana’s water-bodies, as

well as their sources.

Galamseyers can see, as they use bulldozers and Chtan fans to churn up

the beds of our rivers and streams, that the water is changing colour;

that the free-running of the water is being interfered with, as the

water-course is diverted towards an unnatural dead-end, where it

cannot flow on the natural course it had carved into the earth over

thousands of years.

The water, thus diverted, stands still and turns into a crater of

greenish-brown algae. It becomes a poisonous mixture of decaying matter and

the residues of mercury, arsenic and the other deadly chemicals

employed by the gold-diggers.

Villagers and townspeople are deprived of their drinking water and

have to purchase sachet water to drink (if they can afford it!) What

happens when they do not have enough money to buy sachet water?

They may collect muddy water and boil it before drinking. But if

boiling the water can kill microbes, it cannot altogether eliminate

the remnants of the chemicals.

So, cancers and all assorts of diseases that used not to be common in

our rural areas, are now prevalent there.

When I was growing up, people in my village mainly died of old age.

People like: Nana Afia Korang; Nana Yaa Wusuaa; Nana Afia Ataa; Nana

Abenaa Nookwaa; Nana Afia Boatemaa, Nana Nisuoasa; Nana Maniasa…

All of these ladies grew up to a ripe old age by drinking from two

rivers – Supong and Twafuor. Their offspring now drink sachet water

(when they can afford it).

It is evident that the offspring will only enjoy at most two-thirds of

the lifespan granted to their ancestors by Mother Nature.

And that will happen, in spite of the amazing advances that have been

made in the science of medicine.

We have to remind ourselves again and again that it’s because of this

unnatural situation – which some of our own people have wrapped

around us like a cursed cloud - that we must ALL fight relentlessly

against galamsey.

We should further remember that in any worthwhile battle, all cannot

be expected to go smoothly. In a shooting war, for instance, armies

can run out of arms and ammunition or other supplies. Nevertheless, an

army tries to move constantly forward. Retreating is an intolerable

disgrace which no self-respecting army will inflict upon itself. It

just isn’t a viable option.

Similarly, in a war against social aberrations (like galamsey) there

are bound to be major obstacles: the people who used to make money

destroying rivers and forest reserves but can’t do so any longer,

because of “Galamstop”, will resort to all manner of subterfuges to

reverse the situation to what is known in history as “status quo

ante….” [The situation as it was before…]

Indeed, it would be an abnormality if such a fight-back did not occur.

Now, the struggle against galamsey is not for any individual, or even a

generation, but for all who have been deposited, or will grow up in

future, on this beautiful land we call Ghana.

The Akufo-Addo government is trying to stop galamsey and reclaim our

water-sources back for all of us. We should therefore unite behind it,

for if we do so, we shall be acting on behalf of succeeding

generations not yet born.

Do we want them to be born only to curse us as “the generation whose greed destroyed Ghana's God-given drinking water for its own children?

If we don’t want that obnoxious distinction to be applied to us, then

our duty is clear: we must keep the morale of the struggle against

galamsey high, despite setbacks.

Our cause is right. It deserves to succeed. And it shall succeed.

Damn the machinations against it!

Columnist: Cameron Duodu