I have of late been mulling over this little ‘girl’ called Aisha. Her very name defines her anonymous profile in her home of origin. Aisha Who? In other words Aisha Hwan, in Twi. The woman once upon a time, brazenly defied our sovereignty, openly joined the shameful pollution of our rivers, was mercifully caught in the act, and prosecuted. We then decided to salute her by simply asking her to go back home, as her penalty (in other words sentenced to hard labor). By so doing, we lost every moral authority to continue the fight against ‘galamsey.’ That single decision was an assault on our national integrity.
But life went on as usual in Ghana after our routine whimpering, that stops after Mummy has provided a pacifier in our crib.
One day, on seeing what a shoddy job a Chinese contractor had done on our roads in the Agona area, I stopped at his site camp site and asked him. “Sir, I am not an engineer; but the mud you used as the base in constructing parts of the Swedru-Bawjiase road, would you have used the same material in China?’ God so good, my shoulders are not hefty enough to give instant physical rebuttals. Our Chinese contractor walked away quietly, escaping my empty fury.
That same question should be put to Aisha. Check the colour of our rivers, and ask Aisha and her national colleagues here: would they do the same in China rivers.
Happily Aisha the Mermaid of Polluted rivers, has waded carelessly into Dampare’s trap this September. Ghana has this time pointed guns not on Aisha, but ourselves. We accuse our authorities of graft, conspiracy, and greed. But dear Ghana, rather than whine and point accusing fingers, why not the Methodist Hymn, Now Thank we all our God…?
Let’s declare this coming weekend a national thanksgiving, and thank the Good Lord for delivering the culprit (and also one excavator), without national security support. It should be the story of the snake who lay quietly under the tree pondering its shortcomings. Somehow, the toucan bird which had eluded the snake the whole day, now comes tumbling from the tree top, falling on the laps of Commander Python. The snake arrests the toucan without effort.
But should Aisha be the sole whipping girl?
Check our elders who pour libation, and seek good food, fertile soil, good rains. And
check what our national pledge says, by the words:
We promise to hold in high esteem,
The heritage won for us
Through the blood and toil of our fathers.
The heritage won for us, it says. Did our forefathers bequeath muddy rivers and waters? And is this the national heritage we are leaving for future generations? This generation of children are unlucky; they may never see a clean Ankobra, a clean Pra or a clean Birim river in their entire lives. Their shameless elders left behind polluted rivers.
If two successive governments fail in curbing the menace, I leave the solution to our children, for we have failed them. Let them take placards at the next opportunity: founders’ day, independence, and all the hallowed but polluted days, and tell the story in marching songs, to our collective shame.
Help Us dear fathers and mothers
Wear Ghana, Eat Ghana, Drink Ghana
Elders, is this the Ghana we should drink?
Wishing everybody an Aisha When?
— Professor Kwasi Yankah