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When the forces of darkness seek to cover up what the people must know, it is the duty of those who bear the torch to expose it by shedding light on it without compromise.

Many fatal accidents have happened needlessly to Ghanaians in the Shaanxi mine at Gbane in the Talensi District. The Chinese-owned company is never comfortable with these accidents being reported. The company will do anything behind the scenes to block the public from knowing about the accidents or any ills.

Each time an accident occurs, they cook a highly spiced impression on air that all is well for the public to consume; with a great lie-telling talent, they try to downplay an earthquake as a mere handshake. That is not the reality behind the curtains. This allows the tragedies to continue to strike episodically at the mine, the major and regular casualties being the Ghanaian employees wearing the blue collar― the labourers.

A hospitalised victim of a mining accident in Talensi speaking to a former Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Frank Fuseini Adongo

I remember, around the middle of 2018― the month of May, precisely― four mineworkers collapsed after inhaling a toxic gas that emanated from an explosive blasted by Shaanxi, and another Ghanaian, on same day, had a part of his leg ripped off like when the skin of an orange is peeled off deep with a sharp knife. The company’s PRO (Maxwell Wooma) scrambled to block the story from being told. He sent an SMS to me. John Peter Amewu was the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources at the time. The SMS from the Shaanxi PRO reads:

“Good afternoon Sir. I have heard of your encounter with some accident victims of my company. I have been on leave but informed slenderly [sic] about the issue. Notwithstanding, I, in the name of our God, please [sic] with you to stamp it out from your list of stories to as usual, aid a brother. It is because of you I am. I am on my way to accra [sic] to meet the Hon Sector minister on developments in my mine. What a slap it will be to reach there seeing him fuming at me. I will do all I can to ensure safety issues are taken more seriously to protect our brothers. As usual, one for all, all for one. God help in your decision making and bless you for taking same. Regards.”

A crowd in front of the mortuary at the Upper East Regional Hospital waiting to pick up the bodies of the 16 miners killed in Talensi in 2019

Sending such a message to me, where we are talking about human lives being at risk, is a complete waste of time. The story was published: https://starrfm.com.gh/2018/05/ue-r-disaster-strikes-shaanxi-mines-again/. In the text message you just read, the PRO says he will do all he can to ensure safety issues are taken more seriously. In other words, he means safety issues were being taken less seriously until he knew a story was going to be published about the then-latest accident. But the same PRO had consistently and confidently told the public that the company was committed to the safety of the workers with a tone that suggested that the safety of the labourers was on the company’s front burner or was one of the company’s prioritised concerns. An example of that regular commitment statement is found in the last paragraph of this link: https://www.a1radioonline.com/16975/no-disaster-shaanxi-mines-management/index.html. He probably forgot he had sent a text message which rather exposes the disturbing reality hidden from the public. He needs only to say there was no such text message and I will put a screenshot of it here with his phone number captured with it.

Excerpts of the Minerals Commission report indicting Shaanxi over the deaths of the 16 miners

The Cash meant to suppress a Dark Secret

There is another example, which many already know about, telling you how Shaanxi will do anything behind the scenes to cover up the realities. A Minister of State at the Presidency, Rockson Ayine Bukari, pleaded with me to not publish an investigative story about some secret meetings that took place between Shaanxi and Justice Jacob Bawine Boon, a judge formerly at the High Court One in Bolgatanga. Shaanxi was having a case against another foreign mining company (Cassius, from Australia) before Justice Boon at the time and Shaanxi officials had gone to his (Justice Boon’s) residence where I caught them four times meeting with the judge on separate days between November and December, 2018. The next thing was an attempt to block the story from being told to the public. They brought cash. They brought a new motorbike of the latest brand. And they promised to bring more. They said the cash and the motorbike package was just the beginning only if I would not tell the public about the meetings between Shaanxi and Justice Boon.

I was told the CEO of Shaanxi, Xing Wei, was the 9th richest man in all of China, the most populous nation on Earth. I also heard he was (and probably still is) the fifth foreign investor in America in terms of asset size. I placed more value on being true to Journalism (by telling the public what they should know) than what somebody else definitely would do― to take the cash, ask for more, kill the story, win the hearts of the billionaire monster and those who support them and enjoy a threat-free life with his or her family. I could count about four journalists in the Upper East Region who I can trust will not take a bribe to kill a story and I could name two local radio stations in the region that will not support any oppressor and neglect the outcry of the oppressed.

Gold is in abundance in the community yet poverty is loud

A Deputy Attorney-General and Minister for Justice at the time, who applauded how I handled the matter by putting the public interest first, told me the findings were so damning I could have “built three mansions” from the company if I had wanted to take advantage of that top-secret scandal by killing the story. Justice Boon, when the cover was blown, admitted before lawyers on Monday December 17, 2018, to having those ex-parte (one-sided) meetings with Shaanxi officials at his residence and had no choice but to recuse (disqualify) himself from the case: https://starrfm.com.gh/2018/12/judge-recuses-himself-as-shaanxi-officials-attempt-to-bribe-journalist/

The case was remitted as a result of the recusal (disqualification) to the High Court Two in Bolgatanga where the final outcome is yet to be determined. Justice Boon has since been plucked down from his exalted position as the Upper East Regional Supervising High Court Judge and transferred to a remote Obuasi High Court which is under the supervision of another judge in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi. If I had gone for that kind of wealth and kept quiet over the dark secrets against the welfare of the public, I would have suddenly become rich and you wouldn’t know the source or how it happened and Shaanxi, backed by the self-centred powers behind them, would have continued to meet secretly with the judge anytime they have a case against any individual or any group on any matter and you would not understand why the court cases are going in an uncertain way. The victim of such possible circumstances might just be you or any of your loved ones, and you can imagine how painful such an experience would be. Need I add more evidence that this is how they operate in the dark?

Shaanxi produces as much as 90% of all gold ore in Upper East, yet Talensi is in ruins

Rockson Bukari, a government official who identified himself on one of the tapes as a Shaanxi supporter and explained on another tape how he received from the Shaanxi CEO the cash that was meant to kill the story, toppled himself from power and stripped himself of honour in public when he resigned from government after he was exposed.

Some three ‘small fishes’ who were also  involved in the bribery scandal, and were put on trial at the Circuit Court in Bolgatanga, were acquitted and discharged because the law (as we were told) could punish only public officers involved in a bribery-related offence and none among the three ‘small fishes’ was a public officer. The tapes that implicated them were admitted (they passed through Case Management Conference) but were not even played in court before the three ‘small fishes’ were ‘let off the hook’.

Human rights activists presented a press statement at the mortuary before the burial of the 16 bodies

Rockson Bukari and the big names he mentioned on the tapes mysteriously were excluded from the trial. They were not brought before the court and have not been brought before any court up to now. The court delivered the bribe items to me on the basis that the accused persons claimed they were “gifts” meant for me. I donated the items to charity because the reality remained, and the evidence was clear, that they were not “gifts” but bribes. You may catch more details on that story at https://mywordfmonline.com/2020/09/20/shaanxi-bribery-saga-edward-adeti-donates-to-needy-facilities-needy-people-uer/.

A committee contracted by the Minerals Commission to unravel the mining-related disaster that saw 16 Ghanaians killed on Wednesday January 23, 2019, in Talensi came up with a report that blames Shaanxi for an act of recklessness said to have led to those deaths. Recently, I broke down in tears twice while viewing a rare video of a midnight rescue effort jointly made by some members of the Gbane community in the wake of the 2019 mining disaster. I wept because I easily relate with poor people (as a member of the same poor background myself) and can’t stand it when their rights are unduly taken away from them. The video shows how the dying victims (16 of whom eventually passed on) were being carried from mining pits on the backs of the local rescuers and rushed towards some rickety vehicles waiting to convey them from Gbane to a distant hospital.

The committee’s report reveals that Shaanxi produces as much as 90% of all gold ore in the Upper East Region. The company, which was exposed on the front page of the Monday 19th August 2019 edition of the New Crusading Guide (a Ghanaian newspaper) as having evaded tax up to a huge amount of money in Ghana, has been around since 2008: https://newsghana.com.gh/shaanxi-roped-in-a-whooping-gh%C2%A21343173-00-tax-evasion/. The depressing level of deprivation in the community that meets every honest eye does not show there are any gold deposits below the feet of the inhabitants.

The graves of the souls who have painfully died before their time in Shaanxi mine outnumber the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects Shaanxi may have given back to the same community with which it signed an MOU in 2013 ― a Memorandum of Understanding that has rather become a subject of misunderstanding because some natives say the affluent company has not provided any such CSR projects. Recently, a researcher told me about the boom gold as a resource had done to Botswana to the joy of the citizens. Go to Talensi and see the doom gold has done to the inhabitants there― except those who, for the sake of their selfish gains, have decided to endorse the activities of the Chinese company against the rights of their fellow natives in Talensi.

The Mortuary Grief and the Suppressed Tears

Another moment that broke my heart was the night I saw relatives of a miner (identified as Baarn) sobbing in front of the mortuary block at the Upper East Regional Hospital. The miner had been crushed to death by a machine in Shaanxi mine and an autopsy was being done as CID officials were using their phones to snap the crushed body laid out on a slab inside the unlocked mortuary.

Some of the relations sat on the red earth outside, weeping apart. I saw men standing separately, each one facing a nearby bush, weeping and shaking their heads.

An imperfectly full moon stood still behind the leafless branches of a lonely tree near the mortuary block as though it was gazing from the sky upon the grieving family below. Grey clouds moved in a slow procession across the face of that dull-looking moon as if they were in a mourning mood in solidarity with the poor relations. I wept, too. I didn’t have to be close to the grief-stricken relations before I could share in their sorrow. I didn’t have to know the departed victim before I could feel he was just as I am― human, in flesh and blood. Overcome by grief, I couldn’t talk to any of them immediately.

A lady in a red polo shirt mounted a motorbike, sitting behind a white-shirted man holding the steers in silence. Her already-wet face glistened with more tears. I asked her if the dead miner was her brother. She nodded affirmatively with new drips of tears breaking off from her eyelids. She could not open her mouth because her heart was heavy. The engine sounded and the motorbike moved out of the scene, leaving the rest of us behind at the forecourt of the mortuary for a while. The grief was tense that night. That was October, 2018. The link: https://starrfm.com.gh/2018/10/ue-r-cleaner-killed-three-choked-in-shaanxi-mining-pit-accident/. More tragedies― more serious ones― happened afterwards, and were published in newspapers and online.

Gbane, Talensi

Shaanxi would love it if you don’t expose these things. Shaanxi is comfortable with reporters who look away when such things happen and who scream more than the bereaved in defending Shaanxi when some other journalists dare to grab the unruly bull by the horn by blowing the cover on things the wealthy company doesn’t want the public to know about. If you want something positive to be written about you, do something positive. If you do something negative and a negative report is written about your action, don’t complain. At times, it is only when there is pressure from newsrooms outside the region― because some other media houses are carrying a developing story on an accident development in Shaanxi mine― the pro-Shaanxi reporters are compelled to file nothing beyond trivialised, twisted and almost-falsified versions of the original reports.

The reality is that scores of families and the surviving young children of the miners who have died before their time so far in Talensi are in sea-deep grief because of Shaanxi. Their tears are being suppressed from going public because those who have been speaking for them without compromise are being repressed through intimidation masked as litigation and through persecution disguised as prosecution. The initiators of the litigation and prosecution plan and implementation rely on the financial muscle at their disposal and the biceps of the undeserved positions they occupy.

We cannot expect the souls of those who died prematurely with foam in their mouths and fresh streaks of blood on their burial clothes to be happy in their graves. No condition is permanent― good or bad. It is only a matter of time― no matter how long it may seem― before the invisible One who owns both the gold and the digger finally breaks His silence. And when the time is due, there won’t be another time. If it ever was predicted in 1921 that something was bound to happen 100 years ahead, the fulfillment of that notice would be due just this year 2021. 2021 would have been the fulfillment year of the predicted future and not 2022.

Yes, it may take some time, but what is bound to happen surely will be fulfilled when the time is due― even if it will take 10, 50, 100, 1,000 years.  Food eaten by fraud passes through the mouth full of rocks. The fathers were the ones who ate the sour grapes, but it is the children’s teeth that are set on the edge. Justice does not forget.

The Yenyeya Frankenstein and the Shaanxi Monster

Nobody knows Shaanxi inside out more than the businessman who brought the company to Talensi― Charles Taleog Ndanbon, the Managing Director of the Yenyeya Mining Company. Today, the world is aware that Charles and Shaanxi are like Iran and America, a wide gulf apart.

Charles is fighting Shaanxi in court and he has been telling the world some serious secrets that ears can’t believe about Shaanxi. Charles, in his Statement of Claim, has told the High Court One in Bolgatanga, now presided over by Justice Charles Wilson Adjei, to call for the appointment of “an independent professional auditor” to audit the mining operations and activities carried out by Shaanxi from 2008 to date in Talensi, among some other requests.

But why should anybody doubt Charles if we mustn’t doubt a frog that comes out from a pond and announces that its fellow amphibian, a crocodile, is seriously sick underwater? He (Charles) was instrumental behind the recent arrests of some three Shaanxi staff who were reported by state-run Daily Graphic to have been caught by the National Security at the Kotoka International Airport in June, this year, with 21 bars of gold worth 600,000 U.S. dollars: https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/two-chinese-one-local-detained-with-21-gold-bars.html. So great is their lie-telling talent that even when you catch them red-handed defecating openly whilst farting and moaning so loud, they would tell you (in untenable self-defence) that they were only doing a frog-jump physical exercise.

Charles himself recently said he was driving not too long ago into his concession, where Shaanxi has been doing business with him since 2008, but he was blocked at the gates by security officers who reportedly said the Shaanxi CEO had instructed them to not allow him into the yard. A clear case of a landlord who is being sacked from his own property by his tenant.

The billionaire monster, which Charles invited to a dinner in Talensi and was ‘baptised’ recently as Earl International Group (GH) Gold Mining Limited, is now pursuing the host himself (Charles) to consume him.  The business monster he helped to nurture from an embryo is now chasing him to use him for lunch― like Frankenstein who created a monster that eventually attacked him and ruined his life. A regional chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) disclosed during an undercover engagement some time ago that “the powers behind Shaanxi are stronger than” those fighting for the rights of the people of Talensi.

There is more. Three highly accomplished and veteran researchers (a Briton and two Ghanaians― Gordon Crawford, Coleman Agyeyomah and Atinga Mba) wrote a book on the activities of Shaanxi in Talensi. Published by Macmillan, the 237-page book is titled: “Ghana – Big Man, Big Envelope, Finish: Chinese Corporate Exploitation in Small-Scale Mining”. You should find the book on shelf or online and learn more about the operation of the billionaire monster in Talensi and its collaborators. The book is actually a collection of chapters by different authors. Thirty pages of the book are on Talensi, starting from Page 69 and ending at Page 99.

Monitor us― and Keep Monitoring us!

At times, when I go through books written about the disappointing vanity of precious mineral deposits in some African countries and read about how some traditional paramount chiefs have voluntarily reduced themselves to traditional paramount thieves by deliberately assisting self-seeking foreign mining companies to craftily rob their communities of their rights, resources and future because of their selfish benefits, I cringe at the continent’s hopeless-seeming state of disrepair.

And the least said about the media practitioners who are fiercely loyal to such chiefs and to such companies because there is a royalty for their loyalty the better. Equally disturbing is the fact that those media practitioners have dived so deep into the gutters where exceedingly wrathful and frustrated members of the deprived communities now address them as “Products of Leaky Condoms” for “wasting the years, the resources and the fees spent in school” by doing the opposite of what is expected of them.  Celebrated Greek writer, Sophocles, said: “Rather fail with honour than succeed by fraud.”

To the public, I want to say it is by our fruits you shall know us. Kindly refresh your mind through what I have said from the beginning― how they attempted to block some stories from being told to you, what the depressed and agitated people of Talensi are saying about Shaanxi activities and the actions of their collaborators, what a one-time key partner (Charles) to Shaanxi is telling us today about the company, and so on. We all can identify any tree that stands before us just by the fruits it bears. Our actions will show who we are. Don’t respect journalists on the basis of whatever talents they have (everybody has got a talent) even if they can write better than Shakespeare. Don’t respect broadcasters even if they are more fluent in English than the Queen herself.

Please, pay attention to those who pay priority attention to their conscience in the good spirit of the public interest wherever you are. That is the most important value. It is that simple. Journalism is a conscience-based profession driven by passion and guided by compassion. If you are bearing a torch and darkness is comfortable around you, you are a camouflaged agent of darkness. And if you have been standing upright and, then, the wrong people suddenly begin to like you, check the state of your conviction; you probably are drifting unconsciously from your principles. Please, monitor us without fear or favour― and keep monitoring us!

 

 

Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/Edward Adeti