Monday, 29 May 2017

An Open Letter To Mr. Kenneth Ashigbey - Head Of Media Coalition Against Galamsey

Dear Mr. Ashigbey,

This blog congratulates you for your forthrightness in the speech you recently gave at the #UnitedAgainstGalamsy event organised by The Press Foundation (TPF).

Incidentally, the whole nation awaits your naming and shaming the country's biggest galamsey syndicate's head in Ghana - who apparently owns 1000 excavators and runs a Chinese restaurant in Accra, our nation's capital.

Sir, for the sake of our dear country, and the overall  well-being of present and future generations of the Ghanaian people, the media - many sections of which are irresponsible, fickle and fairweather friends of the Ghanaian masses if truth be told - need to remain committed to the fight to protect what is left of our nation's natural heritage, from galamsey operators.

All of us in the Ghanaian media world, both old and young, need to understand clearly that this is a long-term collective effort and commitment. And there is no turning back, either. Full stop.

Above all, one hopes that the fight against galamsey will be done as a collective corporate social responsibilty initiative by all Ghana's  media houses and the media professionals they employ.

And it must be a fight devoid of the usual Ghanaian propensity to envy capable and successful individuals at the workplace, and the metaphorical shoving and elbowing of others aside, with an eye to obtaining prizes and winning accolades.

For that reason, do use your considerable influence in the Ghanaian media world to ensure that no journalist or media house is ever given an award or prize for fighting galamsey in Ghana. Ever.

Neither should any journalist or  media house  seek to profit financially from the fight against galamsey.

As patriots who love their country, we in the Ghanaian media world ought to  be bold to demand that all surface gold mining in our homeland Ghana is banned forthwith.

Furtheremore, it must be pointed out that were honest and patriotic journalists to accompany equally honest and patriotic officials from the Minerals Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Water Resources Commission, to inspect the operations of all the legally registered small-scale mining companies across the nation, not a single one of them will escape being slapped with an order to cease their operations immediately.

The point also needs to made that all those smalll-scale companies without exception mine gold far in excess of the 25-acre limits imposed on them statutorily, when given concessions by the Minerals Commission

Invariably, they also routinely use their legally sanctioned documentation obtained from the regulatory bodies to fraudulently cover illegal mining operations on land in other areas away from their concessions, which they buy from desperately poor farmers for peanuts.

Sir, if the minister for lands and natural resources, Hon. John Peter Amewu, and reps from the Ghanaian media were to visit my family's 14-square mile freehold upland evergreen rainforest property at the Akyem Juaso section of the Atewa Range, I would be able to show them all the evidence (on the ground so to speak) that they need to enable them to understand clearly just how crooked and thoroughly dishonest the entire small-scale gold mining sector actually is.

During such a  visit, Hon. John Peter Amewu and the media team accompanying him, will also get to understand why we must ban all surface gold mining in Ghana once and for all, because it poses a threat to the well-being of our nation and its people.

The nonsense about job creation by small-scale miners that is bandied about by them is just that: pure nonsense on bamboo stilts.

The plain truth is that they are callously exploiting poor rural dwellers and knowingly exposing them to carcinogenic heavy metals and other toxic chemicals, to make money at society's expense. That is immoral and callous in the extreme.

Finally, Sir, when the Hon. John Peter Amewu and the representatives of the  media in Ghana accompanying him, eventually see the amazing beauty of our family's freehold upland evergreen rainforest property (which lies in an area of the Atewa Range designated a Globally Significant Biodiversity Area by Conservation International) they will understand how when the world's longest forest canopy walkway (1000 metres long with 19 bridges), which we will be building there soon, God willing,  will create a sustainable and thriving local green economy that will bring real wealth and jobs galore to the residents of Akyem Juaso, Akyem Saamang and Akyem Osino, till the very end of time.

Yet, right up to the period  between when  President Akufo-Addo won power on 7th December, 2016,  and was sworn into office to govern Ghana on 7th January, 2017,  Hagnela Mining Company, and its assigns, were fraudulently using documentation issued by regulatory bodies - for a concession in a different area of forest away from our property, which should never have been given out as concessions in the first place, if the Fanteakwa District Assembly's regulatory bodies were doing their work properly and honestly - as a cloak to hide the fact that they were  actually engaged in illegal gold mining operations on our family's freehold forestland in partnership with my criminally-minded cousin, Kwame Thompson, our greedy and corrupt Abusuapanin, Mr. Bampoe, and our now dismissed overseer, the big-thief John Awuku, alias "Red."

This blog is convinced that such a visit, should it ever take place, will show the minister and the Ghanaian media professionals accompanying him, why it would be extremely stupid on the part of Ghanaians to sit unconcerned and let greedy and selfish people who do not care one jot about the effect of their actions on their fellow humans, and on forests and delicate ecosystems across Ghana, to destroy what is left of our nation's natural heritage.

Sir, astonishingly, last year (2016) Thailand earned as much as  US$71 billion from 31 million visitors. Imagine that.

Could we not earn even a quarter of that figure if we build an ecotourism industry anchored on what is left of our nation's natural heritage - and create wealth that stays in rural Ghana and jobs galore for our younger generations too, I ask?

We must ban all surface gold mining in Ghana - a foolish and dangerous policy idea forced on the hapless Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) regime by the World Bank in the 1980s: because they knew it would take the already-high net worth of the shareholders of Western gold mining companies to stratospheric heights and make them even wealthier from regular dividend payments from those gold mining companies destroying our natural heritage.

The price we have paid as a people over the decades in terms of the destruction of most of our nation's natural heritage has simply not been worth it. We must end this abomination once and for all. Enough is enough. Haaba!


Yours in the service of Mother Ghana,

Kofi Thompson.
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