Polluted Waters: Speaking Up With Intention And Speaking Up For Attention


“Famine and thirst sigh like a scythe across the field of statistics and the desert is a moving mouth” – Derek Walcott (The Fortunate Traveler)

TO THOSE who are involved in Galamsey, those who sponsor them, those who defend them, those who bankroll them, those who move in sympathy with them and of course, those who offer them land and sanctuary, the day of reckoning is beckoning. Their names will be recorded in brass in history’s book of discarded crimes.

These people should know that the nature they destroy is the handiwork of God, the Almighty who knows the reason why He created nature.

Gird up your loins before reading these startling and heart-rending records on the water situation in the world. I am hunched with emotion and gutted with pain as I write this piece. I sleep with one eye open and wake up every day with tears on my pillows.

I do not cry for myself but for my grandchildren and generations yet unborn who will be facing the stark reality of an acute shortage of potable water to drink and may die of thirst from water-borne diseases, if we run away from our collective efforts to fight Galamsey.

Water, not oil, is the most precious fluid in our lives, the substance from which all life on the earth has sprung and continues to depend. If we run short of oil and other fossil fuels, we can use alternative energy.

But if we have no clean, drinkable water, we are doomed. Here in God’s own country, we all want to be heard as far as Galamsey and the destruction of our water bodies are concerned but we fail to acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention.

Many commentaries on the situation that we have found ourselves in are just for attention. I have been consistent with my criticism of Galamsey because I know if I am not for myself, nobody will be for me, so I have to strike or be struck.

I cannot afford to buy imported water,neither am I prepared to die for drinking poisoned water. People can decide to be acquiesced and adopt deafening silence on the issue but not me.

In fact, they can continue beating about the bush and foolishly read politics into the issue but not me, your irrepressible, unbreakable and irresistible Earth Angel Gabriel, the senior massager of God. Even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.  I am a lone traveler shouting from the wilderness. Those who have ears should listen.

Water scientists say the planet is 71% water and less than 3% of it is fresh. They say most of that is either in the form of ice and snow in Greenland and Antarctica or in deep groundwater aquifers. Less than 1% of the earth’s water, they say, is considered available for human needs.

Even then, much of it is far from large population.  At the dawn of this 21st Century, more than two billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.  Worst of all, more than 5 million people die each year from water related diseases. Scientists tell us that the adult human body is about 75% water with up to 85% of human brain cells liquid: even teeth are 10% moisture. Alarmed? Say your prayers before you sleep tonight.

Africa is more affected by the research of the scientists as enumerated above.  In the case of Africa, poverty, rapid climate change, corruption, irresponsible exploitation of the environment, use of agrochemicals, ostentatious and reckless use of potable water and lust for quick money through irresponsible mining have made our situation worse.

In parched Botswana, a country dominated by the Kalahari Desert, for example, water is so precious that the national currency is called ‘Pula’ (Rain, in Sestswana language.)

There, the nickname of water is ‘Blue Gold’. In other jurisdictions, the issue of water is a human rights issue and you dare not joke with it. Generally, it seems we are facing a world water gap.

Scientists, water professionals, environmental campaigners, climatologists and others have warned for decades that a water crisis is building up yet these alarm bells ring on many deaf governmental ears.

Back in Ghana, we must rethink water management. The truth is that because of Galamsey we no longer live in an era in which rivers can be endlessly dammed to pump water to treatment centers, carry our buckets to go and fetch water from our rivers to fill our pots and drink or fetch water from our rivers on our way to our farms.

We sit by the banks of our rivers and yet thirsty because the waters are polluted with cyanide, mercury and other dangerous chemicals. We used to be proud when our colonial masters referred to this land of ours as the Gold Coast.

The new name of the tag is now Gold Curse. In my previous piece, I suggested in that those who live by the river banks where galamsey is rampant should use river gods, goddesses and deities to curse anyone who pollutes the rivers. This time around, I want to challenge Christians and Muslims to join the battle. Halleluiah and Allahu Akbar alone cannot stop Galamsey.

Here in Ghana you can find a church or mosque in every nooks and crannies that you go. In fact, there is no town or village where you cannot find a Christian or Muslim not to talk of a church or mosque. If Imams and Pastors spend just five minutes every Friday, Saturday or Sunday to preach against Galamsey, the problem will be half solved. Imams and Pastors only preach of salvation but my lexicon defines salvation as ‘preservation or deliverance from harm or ruin’.

It stands to reason that salvation is not only theology and deliverance from sin believed to be brought about by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ or Prophet Mohamed. Man of God, think and save your congregation from imminent death!  Enough of the collections, tithes and ‘adowa’.

As for the chiefs who offer land for the Galamsey criminals for monetary gains, I will rain hellfire on them at the right time. I will name and shame some of them and dare them to summon me to their palaces. After all, who is afraid of a criminal parading as chief?

If their ancestors who ruled before them had stooped so low, will they and their subjects have come to meet any fertile land to farm? Somebody should tell these so-called chiefs (or thieves) that, the law says they hold the land in trust for the people. In other words, the land does not belong to them. Period.

This is not the time for niceties or unguarded politeness as far as the fight to save the river bodies is concerned. I hereby, serve notice that I will be firing from all cylinders and those who don’t have crash helmets should go for one because what is coming from above is heavier than one ton of gold.

I will delve into my arsenal of the Queen’s language, spew out unprintable vitriolic invectives, acerbic, acidic, scathing and snobbish with professorial bombast and they should better go for a standby dictionary if they don’t have one. Some chiefs will run and leave their sandals behind (apology to the late Dr. Kwame Nkrumah).

I have deleted FEAR and RESPECT from all my lexicons because of my fight against this menace. The crown of martyrdom has become too heavy to wear so the battle line is drawn. Asembebadabi!!! Good morning, Mr. Frank Appiagyei. Thanks for your encouragement.


BY Eric Bawah