The mystery behind the Chinese Galamsey Queen in Ghana
Preserving their environment is the main concern of all nations and it is difficult to find a topic that attracts more attention than global warming and its causes and effects. If at the international level summits and conferences are held and decisions and regulations adopted, at the national level every country bears the brunt of global warming or climate change. Drastic changes are noticed in weather patterns and that manifests through extreme changes in the volume and pattern of rainfall, the sudden emergence of extreme temperature variations, and many others. At the national and international levels, decisions are taken to mitigate the damages of climate change and one of them is the polluter pays principle. This, however, is proving almost impossible to implement because developing nations pollute the least, while the developed nations are the biggest culprits and, paradoxically, oppose such laws.
The global ‘crisis’ also falls within one of the oldest practices of the world, Western nations trying to benefit from every situation. That leads to several cases of national and individual intrusion, with the aim of amassing natural wealth and gathering precious minerals. Since the pollution of waterbodies is one of the causes of environmental destruction and climate change since the ecosystem is violated, the sad tableau is that developing countries become once again the most vulnerable. All kinds of resources that people value and treasure are sought after in developing nations, since the legal apparatus is so manipulated, weak and unreliable.
In Ghana, ‘Galamsey’ simply means ‘illegal mining’. Illegal mining is one of the main battles that Ghanaian authorities are said to be facing. At the national level, extraction permits are issued to certain companies that go about their business and help themselves to the gold (the mineral targeted in most cases), but small scale mining also takes place. In this case, the average citizen tries to earn a living by digging pits and descending into them, using rudimentary technology or tools to obtain some gold that they sell to other agents who are part of that local mining ‘business chain’. Several sites of that kind are to be found all across the country.
The Chinese are among the most involved people in illegal mining in Ghana and one can easily trace the roots of that sad truth. The current aggressive Chinese imperialism coupled with the non-existent regulation or control of the management of national properties, productions and minerals in Ghana. Carnages are a daily occurrence on such mining sites, astronomically vast arable lands are snatched from peasants and ‘sold’ to Chinese merchants by corrupt political authorities who are accountable to no one, unfortunately. However, one name keeps popping up; a name that almost every adult in Ghana is familiar with – Aisha Huang, or Huang En – a 36-year-old Chinese woman, allegedly, married to a Ghanaian businessman in the Ashanti region (around Kumasi). This could really be called the ‘Saga of Aisha Huang’, since it has so many shades and tentacles. The woman seems to be the “mystic mysterious” of this mineral rich country. Sources have it that she was arrested and repatriated to China in 2017 for indulging in small-scale illegal mining which is a crime since it is contrary to Section 99 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 of Ghana. She then returned to Ghana to acquire national identification cards and went back to the forest to mine illegally. The key accusations against her are ‘the sale and purchase of minerals without licence and engaging in illegal mining without licence’ and she is said to have an estimated net worth of $1 million; she makes more wealth from illegal mining in Ghana. Her re-entry into the country ignited a long series of questions and it was ultimately revealed that she acquired a non-citizen identity card from the National Identification Authority after returning into the country. She was re-arrested – with three other Chinese accomplices – after that second entry into the country. She was remanded in custody on 5 September 2022 and was to reappear in court on 14 September 2022. What cannot be denied is that more malpractice lies behind the mining industry in Ghana and for some reasons, the case of Aisha Huang is being documented and that unearths a couple of questions, speculation and explanations.
How was the lady who is called “the Galamsey Queen” able to acquire a non-citizen identification card after fraudulently re-entering the country? Many see in that the incompetence or corruption of the institution involved, the National Identification Authority (NIA) and others went to the extent of calling for the dismissal of the boss of the NIA. The other big issue is “the powers” backing Aisha Huang. The two main political parties in Ghana, NPP (party in power) and NDC (current opposition) keep accusing each other at that level. In 2018, a senior sinister of state affiliated to New Patriotic Party (NPP) said that “arresting and prosecuting” that Chinese queen of illegal mining will not solve the financial problems of the country. So much can be read into such an utterance. Aisha Huang’s connection to the NPP can be justified by many occurrences: her lawyer was a minister in the NPP government, and a law form belonging to the former chairman of the NPP party is said to be heavily involved in the defence of Ms. Huang’s accomplices and her Ghanaian husband is, allegedly, a member of NPP. She is said to have been pardoned on three occasions during the NDC administration and that complicates the exact provenance of the cover from which she benefits. Another worrisome revelation has it that Aisha Huang is a spy for the Chinese Government, on a mission to destroy the waterbodies of Ghana and lands used for cocoa production so that China takes Ghana’s position in cocoa production on the world market, since China has recently turned into giant astute cocoa producer. The last point makes this ‘mysterious lady’ untouchable she possesses tapes (allegedly) showing that top notch Ghanaian politicians patronizing escort girls who work for her.
This is certainly not good news in a country that is struggling to contain the anger of a malcontent population that is almost collapsing under the weight and pain of a bad economy that does not show any sign of improvement, at least in the near future. Aisha Huang demonstrates, once more, how African governments sell the wellbeing of their populations, for the satisfaction and egoistic profits of an irresponsible gang of bad leaders.
Moussa Traoré is Associate Professor at the Department of English of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.
Aisha Huang case with Ghana’s is dicey. Why did the current government stop the prosecution of her case? There is definitely something fishy about that case…Illegal mining has flourished in Ghana primarily because of political leniency and clemency, law enforcement and corruption. As Prof. rightly puts it’ African governments sell the wellbeing of their populations, for the satisfaction and egoistic profits of an irresponsible gang of bad Leaders’. Be that as it may,we need to ensure Separation of Powers in our political /governmental dispensation. Offenders of mining regulations must be made to face the full rigorous of the law to serve as deterrent for others to take heed and we must review The Constitution of Ghana.