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Chinese continue leaving Ghana

Updated: 2013-06-14 02:26
By ZHAO YANRONG ( China Daily)

169 gold miners who were detained in recent crackdown released

For the past 19 months, Wu Di worked in Kumasi, the second-largest city in Ghana, where he dreamed of becoming wealthy and making a better life for his parents, three sisters and younger brother.

Chinese continue leaving Ghana

Chinese gold miners wait on Tuesday at the Chinese embassy in Ghana for the documents they need to return to China. SHAO HAIJUN / XINHUA

However, now that he is back in his hometown of Shanglin county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, he does not want to return to the West African country.

"I just feel lucky that I am back home now," the 28-year-old said.

Over the past decade, more than 12,000 miners from Shanglin, a State-level impoverished county, were inspired by stories of quick fortunes and moved to Ghana, the second-largest gold-producing country in Africa.

In the Ghanaian government's most recent crackdown on illegal mining activities, 169 Chinese workers were detained and then released. Thousands of fearful Chinese then abandoned their mining sites and are waiting to return to China.

A similar crackdown took place in October, but this year's is more severe, Wu said.

"Our local partner warned us that this crackdown will last for a longer time, so he suggested we leave," he said.

Wu said that at each mining site, Chinese citizens invested about 2.5 million yuan ($407,570), and provided most of the equipment and mining know-how.

Wu and his co-workers withdrew from their mining site on June 1, right before the crackdown started, and arrived home on Sunday. But local people robbed all their equipment after the Ghanaian army searched the mine site over the past week.

"Most of my friends will be back by the end of this week, and we will make plans for overseas work, but definitely not in Ghana," he said.

Li Deming, a local lawyer, said nearly 1,000 workers have returned to Shanglin since the crackdown began.

"It's a nightmare for most of them, and most people felt as if they escaped death," Li said.

Li added that someone brought back from Ghana the ashes of a family member who died at the hands of local gangsters during the crackdown.

"Most people in Ghana I know want to go back. But some, who invested almost all their property and even borrowed a lot of money at high interest rates to chase the gold dream in Ghana, do not plan to go back," Li said.

The lawyer said one of his friends received a message from a usury lender the second day after returning from Ghana, saying that if he could not pay back all the money by Sunday, he will be in danger.

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