The Economic, Social and Political Impact of Mining on Akyem Abuakwa from the Pre-Colonial Era up to 1943

Emmanuel Ababio Ofosu-Mensah
Senior Lecturer, Department of History, University of Ghana, Ghana, West Africa

Series: African Political, Economic, and Security Issues
BISAC: POL053000



Volume 10

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Special issue: Resilience in breaking the cycle of children’s environmental health disparities
Edited by I Leslie Rubin, Robert J Geller, Abby Mutic, Benjamin A Gitterman, Nathan Mutic, Wayne Garfinkel, Claire D Coles, Kurt Martinuzzi, and Joav Merrick


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The issue of mining in Ghana has attracted an important and recent debate. On the beneficial side, there are those who point to state revenue, industrial development, employment opportunities and social amenities such as the building of roads, schools and clinics, and provision of electricity and granting scholarships to children. Adherents to such a stance see mining as the propeller of economic development and growth.

However, there are those who see mining as leading to environmental degradation and exploitation. In particular, they point to large tracts of land and forests that are being destroyed by the stripping of the top soil, thereby leading to soil erosion and a destruction of the vegetation. Also mentioned are the significant dust, black smoke, bad odor and other forms of chemicals, which pollute both air and water. Dr. Ofosu-Mensah investigates the extent to which mining in Akyem Abuakwa raised such concerns from Ghana’s Pre-Colonial Era up to 1943. Specifically, he meticulously assesses the impact of mining on the state from the pre-colonial era up to the first four decades of the twentieth century. Important questions that Dr. Ofosu-Mensah addresses include: How traditional miners acquired land for mining, the nature of the indigenous technology used in mining, and its impact on the environment. Ofosu-Mensah addresses, explicates and exemplifies the types of benefits and opportunities that scientific mining created for the people of Akyem Abuakwa and the impact of mining on food security in the state of Akyem Abuakwa. Finally, he tackles the problem of the extent to which mining contributed to the problem of land alienation in the state and social, legal, and moral issues raised by such alienation and loss of land rights. (Imprint: Nova)




Chapter 1. Introduction (pp. 1-36)

Chapter 2. Traditional Gold Mining in Akyem Abuakwa (pp. 37-86)

Chapter 3. Scientific Mining in Akyem Abuakwa (pp. 87-116)

Chapter 4. The Economic Impact of Mining (pp. 117-136)

Chapter 5. Social Impact of Mining (pp. 137-160)

Chapter 6. The Political Outcomes of Mining in Akyem Abuakwa (pp. 161-204)

Chapter 7. Conclusions (pp. 205-210)

Appendix (pp. 211-224)

Glossary (pp. 225-226)

Bibliography (pp. 227-250)

Index (pp. 251)

“In this volume, Emmanuel Ababio Ofosu-Mensah considers the history of the area associated with the Akyem Abuakwa Kingdom and presently, known Akyem Abuakwa state, in southeastern Ghana. While the kingdom was disadvantaged by its inland location, it benefited greatly from its mineral wealth-in both gold and diamonds. However, the ambiguous benefits of gold are well-known, as is told in the myth of King Midas and his greed for gold that almost led to the death of his beloved daughter. These aspects of gold were evident in Akyem Abuakwa as labor-intensive traditional gold mining was supported by the king and his sub-chiefs.

Through their division of the profits from gold nuggets, they amassed great wealth which enabled them to purchase European firearms and to display gold regalia during festivals, thus reinforcing their political power. Yet they were dependent on the labor of slaves and pawns, which ended in the Gold Coast Colony after 1880. With the British occupation of Asante in 1896, several European mining firms sought to obtain gold-mining concessions in Akyem Abuakwa. This situation, which led chiefs to essentially sell land to mining firms, resulted in much land lost to foreign control. However, the traditional ruler, Nana Ofori Atta I, sought to reign in concessions by initiating a new property rights system in kingdom. The author argues that the funds accrued through this new system controlled by the king were used to benefit the community through education and to address some of the social and health problems brought about by scientific goldmining in Akyem Abuakwa.

There is a proverb associated with the Akan gold weight (used to measure gold dust currency during the precolonial era) depicting a bird with its head turned back-known as Sankofa. The proverb, “pick it up if it falls behind you,” refers to the need to learn from past and to amend earlier mistakes. Ofosu-Mensah’s detailed study of the problems associated with gold, labor, and land and the political leadership that emerged to address them provides material with which to think about the present.” - Elisha P. Renne, Professor Emerita, Department of Anthropology and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, USA

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The principal audiences consist of Historians of Africa, Political Scientists, Anthropologists, Scholars of Communication Studies and of International Affairs and Diplomacy, as well as Social Commentators. Its synthesis and analysis are done in a way that guides both experienced and novice scholar in understanding the nature (width and scope) of scientific mining and corruption and their impact of governance, the rule of law and socio-political affiliations in the studied area.
The book would also be of immense utility to mining concerns not only operating in the West African sub-region but across the world in their dealings with indigenous communities etc.

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