April 22 is International Mother Earth Day. The International Mother Earth Day was established in 2009 by the UN General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278. The Resolution was introduced by the State of Bolivia and endorsed by over 50 member states. It recognizes that “the Earth and its ecosystems are our home” and that “it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth.” The term Mother Earth is used because it “reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit”. This day, according to a former UN General Assembly President Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann “… promotes a view of the Earth as the entity that sustains all living things found in nature. Inclusiveness is at the heart of International Mother Earth Day; fostering shared responsibilities to rebuild our troubled relationship with nature is a cause that is uniting people around the world.”
As Africans, this day should be held in high esteem. Many African peoples regard the earth as a female deity, a mother-goddess who rules all people and is the mother of all creatures. The earth lives and gives birth to ever new generations of beings. She makes the grass grow when heaven gives her rain and if there is no rain, she withdraws into her own depths, waiting for better times to come. Indeed there is a Zulu myth in which people go in search of the milk-lake under the earth, from where the milk is absorbed by the grassroots so that the cows and goats have milk from the earth. Where else could the milk come from? Our own flesh is earth; even the name Adam means ‘earth’.
Taking care of the Earth is not just a responsibility. In his message to celebrate this year’s International Mother Earth Day, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the day “is a chance to reaffirm our collective responsibility to promote harmony with nature at a time when our planet is under threat from climate change, unsustainable exploitation of natural resources and other man-made problems. When we threaten the planet, we undermine our only home – and our future survival. On this International Day, let us renew our pledges to honor and respect Mother Earth.”
It is not uncommon, especially in Ghana, to see people degrading the earth with impunity. Human activities cause imbalance of the ecosystem. These activities which are mainly for obtaining food and the other resources to make life more comfortable, include farming along water courses, deforestation (timber, charcoal burning, wood for construction and sale), soil winning for building construction (roads, bridges, fields, buildings), mining, discharge of harmful chemicals in water bodies, fishing and discharge of waste (solid and liquid). These activities have tones of effects on climate change in Ghana. These are; destroying plant and animal species, increasing chance of all the types of erosion, the washing away of all nutrients and organisms that fertilize the soil among others.
Our national income must not go into repairing these. We all must make efforts to keep our neighborhoods clean. If we see trash on the ground we can pick it and put it in a dust bin. We must stop dumping waste into gutters. We must recycle cans, bottles, and papers. This can create jobs for the teeming number of unemployed Ghanaian graduates and increase our gross domestic product. We must help keep the air clean by reducing the rate of gas emission into the air. Cars that release bad fumes must be banned from working on our roads. We can help save water and energy. The establishment of a 200-member National Sanitation Task Force is a great move in the right direction. We hope they will work hard to improve our sanitation situation in Ghana.
Let us all remember that the nation that destroys its earth destroys itself. I wish all Ghanaians a happy International Mother Earth Day.