Lessons To Learn From Ejura’s Akyeamehene


WHEN THE noise about Galamsey reached an unbearable crescendo and the President met with MMDCEs and the National House of Chiefs to deliberate on the menace, I knew the whole fight against Galamsey had reached the point of no return. A few days after that encounter, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, also met his chiefs to deliberate on the same issue. During those days, I wrote two articles on Galamsey.  One had the caption, “Fighting Galamsey: Who Owns The Land?” In that piece, I admonished the chiefs to take over the fight against Galamsey because, the land on which the Galamseyers operated belonged to the chiefs from time immemorial.  They have full control over the land in their domain to the extent that if even the government wants land to embark on any project, it has to consult the chiefs with Schnapps to pour libation to the gods for the success of the project.

I then followed up with yet another piece on the same issue captioned: “Galamsey Diminishes Our River Gods.” Readers will recall that in that piece, I charged the chiefs in Galamsey operating areas to use the river gods and deities to curse anyone who will destroy our river bodies through Galamsey. Nobody listened to me because these days, born-again Christians have taken stronghold in society so many people don’t believe in our river gods anymore. They have forgotten that when the Lord of Host instructed Moses to lay down his rod before Pharaoh and the rod turned to a snake, Pharaoh too called three of his magicians to lay down their rods which also turned to three snakes.   The defence   that Moses’ snake swallowed Pharaoh’s snakes was neither here nor there because a snake is a snake. You can imagine the backlash I received from these born-again Christians when I opened my inbox in my computer the following day after the publication of that article. Some even jokingly said they will protest to God to drive me away from Heaven if they meet me in Heaven, as if they and I have been assured of a place in Heaven! Others wrote that I was a blasphemer. I simply laughed over those comments.

Three weeks ago, the Akyeamehene of the Ejura Traditional Area in the Ashanti Region, Nana Adu Pako, took a certain action against Fulani cattle headsmen and their collaborators who continue to destroy the farms of the people, rape women, engage in armed robbery and other social vices in the traditional area. The action had positive results hence, the need for this article today.  If all the Akyeame ahenfo and chiefs in Ghana adopt this approach, I believe the issue of Fulani headsmen and their cattle destroying farmlands and our water bodies as well as the Galamsey menace will stop. Prior to the Akyeamehene’s action, the chief of Ejura, Nana Barima Osei Mensah Hwedie, had gone to Miminaso No. 2 in the same traditional area to destool the Odikro of the town for collaborating with Fulani cattle headsmen by allowing them to operate in his area when the Ejura Traditional Council had decreed that no chief should allow any herdsman to operate in his area. Nana Osei Hwedie, there and then, appointed the Chief Imam, the Sarkyi Zongo and the Assemblyman of Miminaso No. 2, to take over the administration of the town until a substantive chief was enstooled. That is what we call man pass man, water pass gari.

After that action by Nana Osei Hwedie, it later came out that other herdsmen and their cattle, were operating in other villages and towns in the traditional area, destroying river bodies, farms and engaged in other social vices under the guidance of some security officers, Adikrofo, and ‘connection men’. The Ejurahene then called a meeting of the Traditional Council to decide on the way forward. It was at the said meeting that the Akyeamehene, Nana Adu Pako, who was beside himself with fury and emotion, invoked the spirits of the land, river gods and all the deities of Ejura Traditional Area to deal ruthlessly with anyone who will receive money and cows to allow any Fulani cattle herdsman and his cattle to operate in the Traditional Area. He also cursed the Fulani cattle herdsmen and ordered them to leave Ejura Traditional Area with their cattle immediately or incur the wrath of the river gods and other deities of Ejuraman. Barely two days after the curse was invoked, the herdsmen and their cattle started leaving the Traditional Area. The Ejurahene then formed a Task Force to go round all the villages to make sure the herdsmen and their cattle left Ejura Traditional Area. Today, the farmers of Ejura are enjoying relative peace and going about their duties without fear of being attacked by Fulani herdsmen.

This action of Nana Barima Osei Hwedie and his chiefs brings into mind the failure of the late Chairman J.J. Rawlings when he tried to deal with the Fulani herdsmen and their cattle in the eighties. Rawlings had formed a military Task Force codenamed, Operation Cow Leg, to flush out these miscreants. Much as the soldiers who were armed to the teeth tried, they could not flush out the cattle herdsmen and their cattle. As they drove them across the border to Burkina Faso, these herdsmen returned to Ghana with their cattle when the soldiers left. It became a hide and seek game until the Operation Cow Leg was disbanded.

We all heard the carnage committed by these herdsmen at Agogo in recent times. If the chiefs of Agogo had adopted the Ejura Akyeamehene’s method, I hope the matter could have been settled quickly. Like Galamsey, no Fulani herdsman can easily drive his cattle to a Traditional Area without the knowledge of the Odikro of the area. What has happened in Ejura stands to reason that the use of brute force to solve problems like Fulani cattle herdsmen menace and Galamsey, does not work. After the burning of excavators, beating of Galamseyers and seizing of mining equipment by the military Task Force, what results did it yield? ZERO!  Galamsey continuous unabated. The difference is that it is done under the cover of darkness in the night when everybody is asleep.

The naked truth is that despite our Christian and Muslim faith, majority of Ghanaians still fear the wrath of our deities. That is why some “men of God” use the names of rivers and deities to curse when they are accused of wrong doings. Soon, you will hear Osofo Kyiri Abosom using deities to curse those who are lambasting him for impregnating his maid servants if he is pushed to the wall! Do you remember the late Rawlings challenged his accusers to go with him to Antoa Nyamaa deity to find the truth? They say when God picks up a stone, He takes time to throw it because He is God of patience but the deities adopt instant justice, rough and ready.

In the village where I grew up, stealing was a taboo. When you steal and they use the name of the river from which we drink to curse you, your stomach will begin to protrude. If you confess and certain rituals are performed, the river god will save your life. If you refuse to confess, you will die. That is what we call African belief. It works to perfection. I still insist chiefs in Galamsey operating areas should curse anyone who do engage in Galamsey in order to save the rivers and environment for future generation. I doff my hat for the Akyeamehene of the Ejura Traditional Area. Nana, continue to invoke curses because that is the language people seem to understand. You call this piece controversial? That is the reality.

BY Eric Bawah