Kasimba`s One-Month Experience and My Thoughts
The Arrival 
For about 8 weeks ago, Kasimba touched the Ghanaian soils to explore the management and distribution of revenues from gold mines in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions in Ghana. However, he was not too lucky as he landed during the Ghana’s version of winter ‘Harmattan ’, very dry air, dusty and very cold at times.

Apart from the Ebola screening and the immigration, in Ghana, the first informal interaction with the local people at the Kotoka International Airport (Accra) begins when meeting taxi drivers. The drivers, mostly men, will raise appellations on you, referring to as Chief, Director, Boss and Nana (chief in Twi); they do this to entice you and offer their services. This is also a common “language” in Ghana that many traders use to attract one`s attention. Some even go as far as calling you “customer” or “friend” even though you never met or bought anything from them.

Taxi Chronicles
Kasimba’s encounter with taxi drivers in Ghana is one of the most memorable experiences that cannot be erased from his journals. He says “it’s very easy to engage in a conversation with taxi drivers in Ghana than in Norway’ yes, it is, I replied. Taxi drivers in Ghana love to host passengers with while playing songs, sermons or tuning to radio stations they prefer and engage the passengers in lengthy discussions; varying from politics, social, governance, religion and business.

Photo 2 Taxi in Ghana
Figure 2: A classic taxi in Obuasi (Golden City) in Ghana. Photo by Sam A. Kasimba February 2016

One of Kasimba’s favorite driver is Samuel. Even though Samuel is a hardworking man, sometimes he makes Kasimba uneasy, especially when he delays to honour an appointment on time. This happens often in Ghana – sometimes it makes Kasimba believe that truly, there is no hurry in Africa. In Ghana, however, the common excuse for being late is the massive traffic jams in Kumasi, or rather in Ghana as a whole. Kasimba says that the heavy traffic jams in Kumasi alone makes his day more tiring and stressful but the love and passion for his job inspires and keeps him strong.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t too surprised when he told me some taxi drivers tried to cheat him on the fares, just because they heard his accent was not Ghanaian. This, and the bribery involving taxi drivers, other public transport drivers and the Police on the roads befuddles Kasimba. He is studying transparency and accountability and does not understand how even it is possible to fight corruption, while it seems to be a part of the everyday life in Ghana. This is another story for another day.

Photo 3 Defeat Corruption
Figure 3: A school signpost in Obuasi (Golden City) in Ghana. Photo by Sam A. Kasimba February 2016

Kasimba, told me he felt the importance of his mission in Ghana when after only 2 weeks he read an article I did on the tussle between mining giants AngloGold Ashanti and the Artisans’ Small Scale Miners’ in Obuasi, which was titled, ‘Obuasi Small Scale Mining: The Center Cannot Hold’.
He conferred on me the title, ‘the gatekeeper’. Before I accepted to meet him for the first time, I did a deep research on him, and I nearly cancelled the meeting and above all, he being a PhD Candidate scared me! Nevertheless, lo and behold we met and when I saw him, I was like, what a simple PhD Candidate this person was! He later confessed, he thought he was going to meet an Editor-In-Chief in a suit, a common phenomenon in many regions of Africa. This is especially when a definition of a big man is being searched for. He later said, he was surprised to see me in simple attire and looked very informal, and relaxed.

Meeting the Mining Communities
At a point I disappointed Kasimba, when we had to do an unplanned visit to a community, instead of an interview with a Board Member of the Obuasi Community Trust Fund. We went to visit and talk to the people of Anwiam or “sand city”. This is one the oldest mining communities in Obuasi, they are the descendants of some of the first miners living in this community. Mining in Anwiam has been going on for at least 130 years ago but the conditions in the area do not match the mining history.

Photo 4 Anwiam
Figure 4: Anwiam Community Photo by Sam A. Kasimba February 2016

Kasimba was surprised to see Artisans Small Scale Miners briskly doing their own thing just close to the fenced concession of the AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi Mine. He said he was comfortable with Mr. Appiah, a community leader who we met at his site working, but had time for an interview.

Photo 5 Small Scale Mining
Figure 5: Small Scale Mining in Anwiam Photo by Sam A. Kasimba February 2016

Kasimba’s encounter with the extractives, will take another four pages to write.

Emmanuel Agyemfra Boateng is the Chief writer for an Obuasi based News website; Obuasitoday.com which looks specifically into issues confronting the Municipality.
Contact: agyenfra43@gmail.com/agyemfra@obuasitoday.com

Sam A. Kasimba is a PhD Candidate at the Department of Geography, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). He is exploring the institutionalization of transparency and accountability in benefit sharing trust funds. How and can these be useful mechanisms in advancing transparency and accountability in managing revenues from high-value natural resources?

By Emmanuel Agyemfra Boateng and S. A. Kasimba, PhD Candidate