Gold Rich Land, Dirt Poor People
I was up pretty early this morning. Annoying, considering I am on leave and should be getting maximum sleep. Failing to get back to sleep, I reached under the pillow for my phone and went through my daily morning routine of checking my facebook, twitter, whatsapp ad email accounts. It seemed like I was the only one up at stupid o’clock. I laid in the darkness for a bit fiddling with my phone. Then I remembered someone mentioned a Discovery Channel documentary about illegal mining in Ghana the other day. So I ended up on YouTube.
My immediate reactions minutes into the documentary were the usual fury whenever I see something embarrassing on Ghana. But as it went on, it became apparent how overly scripted this documentary is. Many of the scenes have obviously been staged for dramatic effects. It felt like something copied from a re-enactment scene in Crime Watch. Their stay in the “jungle” would not have been complete without the shots of the leech conveniently lodged on the ankle of one of the crew members and a cameo appearance by the highly poisonous green mamba. Funny how there were no mozzies in the “jungle”, with all the pools of murky water these clowns created with their illegal mining. And the subtle play on the old colonial hierarchical system. At the top is the greedy white explorer/exploiter, then the Indian middleman operating the excavator and at the bottom, my people!
Many scenes in this documentary may have been scripted, but we cannot ignore the message in there. That a section of Ghanaians can be so poor whilst the land they live on abounds in gold is a shame on every Ghanaian. That two debts-ridden yanks can come into a village in Ghana, have a hearing with the CHIEF and his ELDERS and have little school children take the day off school to perform at the gathering is just unbelievable. Surprising how this issue of illegal mining was not a major debate topic during the election period. I guess this is just an indication of how much these politicians care about the people.
For those two greedy yanks, it was a win/win situation whatever the outcome. If they find the gold, they make money and if they did not find the gold, they would still make money from the screening of the documentary. But for us, all we get from this as a nation is bad press and death traps.
By Maclean Arthur