By Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
Who is fighting who in this battle for survival? As I was returning from the Laribanga mountains, I found myself in a forbidden dilemma; I didn’t know whether I was hallucinating, dreaming, thinking, sobbing or cursing my ancestors. As I soliloquy in my world, I didn’t know the time I asked myself the question: who is fighting who in this battle for survival?
If you observe with an objective eye on the twin issues of logging and charcoal burning in Gonjaland, you would but come to the conclusion that the fight is just one of a stagecraft meant to deceive the people. I see a fight where five world boxers are put in one ring and commenced to fight and get a winner in the end. This is the scenario we are seeing in this so called fight against logging and commercial charcoal burning in Gonjaland. In the end, they boxers will end up beating themselves without a winner.
I, Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese, is neither a pessimist nor a doomsayer, but I can bet with my last dime that this fight is just a rat race; no one would be caught and no one will be punished. We will be made to read recommendations and strategies while the people are cutting down our economic trees for this charcoal burning.
The very stakeholders who are entrusted with the powers and responsibility to safeguard our land and other natural resources are the very people who have decided to destroy same resources with their own hands. How many times has the Gonja Tradtional Council and the Jakpa Palace have not issued bans on these activities? But the same GTC and the Jakpa palace have their receipts issued to the burners the very time the ban was still supposed to be effective. What an irony!
The Jakpa Palace which is the symbol of authority and has the power to protect the Jakpa land, is itself implicit in this chain of destruction. All other palaces within the Kingdom (Wasipe, Buipe, Kpembe, Damongo, Bole, etc) are as guilty as those bombaclats who burn the charcoal. Meanwhile the revenue we claim to be taken from these people is less than what one police checkpoint will take from them along the way. You take GHC 500 for the Jakpa Palace for one truck load which sells at GHC 35,000 or more? What!
The Municipal/District Assemblies in Gonjaland are neck-deep into these activities. Who can say he/she isn’t aware that these Assemblies collect revenues from these hewers of our woods? Who is not aware that all the palaces are equally taking money and proudly issuing receipts to these charcoal burners? I have even seen a receipt of the Gonjaland Youth Association at one time when we accosted the burners. So who are we deceiving?
The aforementioned stakeholders are those organizing themselves into committees and sitting at meetings over wine and tea to start a so call fight against same activities they are involved in. Are we serious? Since the inception of the Savannah Region, how many committees has it set up so far? What work did they do that can be traced as a success story? How much was spent in getting these committees to work?
To the youth who rejoice over the peanuts they are paid as loading boys, be told that you are gradually mortgaging your future for nothing. Don’t think you are part of this generation who have decided to sell your life in the future, you are only assisting them to create a desert of empty wells for you. This network of land destroyers would not live to witness the day when the land will bear no fruits for you.
Those who come from the south to use you as hewers of wood and drawers of water, have left a thick forest behind them while hunting down your own growing forest. The thick-tall-trees along Kumasi-Techima route can be used for charcoal as well. Ask why that forest is still keeping green. Reason is that, the owners of the land are not greedy and selfish like us.
So, who is fighting what in this struggle?
I remain a loud citizen from Laribanga.