RE: OTUMFUO HAS DISAPPOINTED THE ASANTES AND THE GODS HE’S SWORN BEFORE
The Asante Empire, an Akan state that existed from 1701 to 1901, expanded from the Ashanti Region to encompass most of present-day Ghana, as well as parts of Ivory Coast and Togo.
Due to the empire’s military prowess, wealth, impressive architecture, sophisticated hierarchy, and rich culture, the Asante empire has been extensively studied, with more historical records written by European authors, primarily British, than any other indigenous culture in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Our ancestors traded in gold, cocoa, kola nut, and agricultural products long before modern-day Ghana came into being.
None of these numerous authors who wrote about the Asante empire ever asserted that our forebearers destroyed our environment through their activities, such as mining and farming, leading to the long-term detriment of our survival.
Today, humanity is facing the greatest paradox in history. No one can contest that fact.
“On one hand, the benefits of nature’s bounty have never been more abundant and more readily accessible. Science and technology have expanded the frontiers of human creativity to a point where we can observe what happens on the moon in real time and a teenager with a little tablet can create a software in his bedroom which turns him into a millionaire overnight. The internet has turned on the light of knowledge beyond our wildest dreams.
And yet, all that knowledge and wealth notwithstanding, we are faced with the stark reality that our world today is less safe, less secure and less peaceful than it has ever been in history. Worst still, we have to contend with a real existential threat from a looming environmental catastrophe.”
-His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 13th September, 2019.
To the main reason for penning down this article, it is disheartening, appalling and of crass assumptions for anybody to accuse the Asantehene for failing Asanteman and the Gods of Asanteman in his fight against environmental degradation and protecting the environment our forebearers bequeathed us.
With the internet turning on the light of knowledge beyond our wildest dreams, we often misuse and abuse this powerful tool to our own detriment.
The internet has now become a medium that any socially misfit, any scoundrel can use as a smoke screen to perpetuate their evil thoughts, and to promote tribal hatred, fostering an “us versus them” mentality with the main aim of denigrating the Asantehene and Asantes.
The current environmental degradation cannot be solely blamed on the Asantehene or the Asantes.
Traditional authorities are not solely responsible for this issue. Since 1900, Ghana has lost over eight million hectares (8,000,000 ha) of forest cover, with almost one million hectares (1,000,000 ha) lost in the past four years alone.
Globally, it is estimated that the world lost over ten million hectares (10,000,000 ha) of tropical forests in 2020.
Technocrats, lawmakers, and politicians, who are responsible for protecting our environment, sometimes collude with certain traditional authorities to exploit and degrade the environment.
In a widely circulated video on social media prior to the 2020 general elections, functional executives of a political party and a former boss of the Minerals Commission were seen encouraging illegal miners at a Galamsey site to continue their illicit activities, with the promise of support if their party came to power.
They even assured these illegal miners that if elected, their colleagues arrested by the current government would be released and they would have unrestricted access to any area of their choosing.
With such attitudes, how can we expect to win the fight against illegal mining?
We have politicized this canker to the point where politicians argue over which party has caused the most destruction to our environment.
Again, the infamous Prof. Frimpong Boateng’s Report on illegal mining, was also damming and a blot on our conscience.
In all of this, politicians and their assigned agents conveniently shift the blame onto traditional authorities, holding them solely responsible for this canker.
We all witnessed a certain politician based in Kumasi, who accused the Asantehene of being responsible for the destruction of our environment, while that very politician was engaged in indiscriminate and illegal logging in his own hometown.
In his relentless effort to combat environmental degradation, the Asantehene has taken proactive measures, including:
- Holding accountable all traditional authorities under his jurisdiction who have allowed their lands to be used for illegal mining.
- Organizing a Responsible Mining Summit in partnership with the World Gold Council, bringing together all stakeholders in the industry to find effective solutions to this problem. Previous attempts by successive governments to address this issue have not yielded significant results and have been a waste of resources.
- Establishing a task force called the “Asanteman Responsible Mining Taskforce” to ensure the protection of our environment, particularly our water bodies.
- Partnering with the UK government through private discussions with King Charles III, King of the UK during his recent visit, to reclaim and rehabilitate degraded lands not only in Asanteman but throughout Ghana.
During the launch of the Green Ghana Day at KNUST on May 17, 2023, the Asantehene publicly declared that he has already taken action against chiefs within the affected areas and expects the government to do the same with its appointees involved in illegal mining.
He further revealed his intention to undertake surprise visits to these specific areas, namely Amansie, Manso, and others, in order to personally witness the magnitude of environmental degradation occurring there.
He expressed surprise upon learning about the extent of destruction in the Bekwai forest, Odaw river, and Subin Shelter belt.
The Asantehene openly acknowledged that some chiefs and government officials have benefited from these activities. Thus, he has directed all chiefs in these areas to collaborate with relevant government agencies to halt the operations of armed illegal miners.
The Asantehene further pointed out that Ghana loses 27% of her crops annually due to illegal mining and illegal logging.
From all that have been enumerated, and that are being done, it cannot be the case that the Asantehene has failed in this fight, when we as a country cannot even find the antidote to this canker.
It will be erroneous and out of place to blame him and Asantes for being responsible for this destruction.
The Asantehene through his own initiative is planting over one million (1 million) trees in the Kumasi Metropolis to commentate his Silver Jubilee celebrations next year and also plant ten million (10,000,000) trees in Asanteman within the shortest possible time.
Forests are the Lungs of the Earth and play a crucial role in the sustainability of our planet by absorbing carbon dioxide and reducing emissions. In this war against environmental degradation, Asanteman and the gods he has sworn before will stand by him to protect our environment, as it was bequeathed to us by our forebearers.
Long live Asantehene !
Long live Asanteman !
Long live Ghana !
Story by Kwame Aboagye Mensah
Personal Assistant to the Chief of Staff