Jungle Gold: Shame on Ghana

I watched an episode of the Jungle Gold documentary on YouTube. I got angry watching it. I didn’t get too angry though. My curious mind was flooded with loads of questions as I watched it. Questions that made me wonder why certain people still get paid with my tax monies among others. Let’s pause on this for a moment as I bring those of you who are still at sea up to speed.

Well, two Americans seeking a bit of adventure mixed with a desire to make some good money managed to get into this country of ours, obtain plots of land to mine, mined, filmed it and had the understandable audacity to air it on huge platforms like the Discovery Channel on DStv and I believe other channels in the US and across the world. In the episode I watched (a Behind the Scenes one), the duo and their filming crew with a pistol wielding former Special Forces chap as head of security are seen among others buying gold on the black market, fighting a farmer whose land they wanted to mine from, reporting that farmer to the police who shamelessly charged the Ghanaian farmer with ‘assault with a deadly weapon’, confronting a team of short-gun wielding Chinese ‘miners’, and largely turning some parts of Ghana into the scene of what may seem like some Hollywood action movie.

One of the things that irk me to the core is when those whose job it is to do ABCD renege on it and when their inefficiencies are made public they then start acting upset, bewildered, and then they spew fire and brimstone without any evidence of either from their rhetoric. Tell me, how does a crew carrying $500,000 worth of filming equipment enter Ghana through almighty Kotoka and no one asks questions? I mean how? These cameras and equipment are not the small ones our Kumawood brothers use to produce their movies. These are huge machines! Having worked with professionals like their type before, I know they usually would have permission from some authority before visiting with their equipment.

Again, they did say in the film that they had permission to mine. Hello! The law is crystal clear on this. Small scale mining is solely left for Ghanaians. These are Caucasian Americans. None looked like Wesley Snipes or Denzel Washington. Who permitted them to mine? I have heard Minister for Natural Resources Inusah Fuseini say the government will track down the two guys and their crew and blah blah blah. I don’t want to blame that land owner who gave out her land (without her husband’s knowledge ostensibly). She saw quick cash and the stupidity got the better of her. But whose job is it to ensure that those who are actually mining are those permitted by law to do so? Has the Minister of Natural Resources and others not failed in this direction? There are Chinese and other foreigners mining in this country as though we shared the same ancestors. For some reason some of our very own business people presumably employ these guys as some sort of consultants and business partners. So our own people allow these guys in.

Our chiefs and big men may want to deny this for all they want, but they do have these concessions and not everything that goes on there are legitimate.   One of the crew in the episode I watched carried a pistol. It was not a locally manufactured pistol. My guess is that he brought it down from Utah, USA. Easy questions to ask; did he bring it through Kotoka? Who gave him permission to? What did he say he was doing in Ghana that required him carrying a pistol? The Chinese who appeared to claim a piece of land carried a shotgun too. It seems to have been the locally made type. But then again some other Chinese who had the effrontery to fight at some locals some weeks ago wielded AK47s. So our Interior Ministry and the agencies that work under them have serious gaps in their system and yet, we sit with our hands in our ‘damirifa’ like everything is alright.   Ideally for any crew of that stature that enters into a country to shoot any documentary, institutions like the Ministry of Information should not only be aware, but must authorize it. We are here caught pants down after virtually all those we pay to do specific jobs have failed to do their jobs. Sadly, they will get away with it because that is just how things are run in our country.

Those of you who have visited Europe and the Americas, are you sometimes not asked to produce your permits or passports on the streets? We now have Chinese people especially walking on our streets and doing business as though the streets of Accra and Takoradi and Kumasi was Beijing or Ghanzough, or that the forest areas of Obuasi and Takoradi and Dunkwa have become Heilongjiang, Fujian or Zhejiang.   This country must work. If the various ministers through whose lack of effective supervision we have been inundated with criminals rummaging through our forests in the name of business whiles destroying our forests and water bodies have failed, then they should be sacked. We worship mediocrity too much in this country and because of some parochial party interests we keep ministers and officials at post when they seem clueless on what to do.

Ghana deserves better!

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