To be frank, I had never even heard of the Discovery Channel's Jungle Gold before being asked if I had seen it by the intrepid Kwaku Spider via Twitter. Clearly I may have been too busy getting my brain fried by excessive reality television viewing via TLC. Did you know TLC stands for "The Learning Channel" ? Now that is irony right there.
Anyway, I digress. Back to Jungle Gold. Apparently it premiered last year on my mother's birthday which is also curious since areas very close to her place of birth feature heavily in this show.
So here is the Jungle Gold premise according to Wikipedia:
Jungle Gold is an American reality documentary television series on the Discovery Channel.The series debuted on October, 26, 2012.The series follows George Wright and Scott Lomu as they attempt to earn some cash in order to recover from losing everything in the real estate crash of 2008. The series focuses on the duo as they encounter the task of gold placer mining in the Ashanti Belt along the Birim River in Ghana of West Africa. The tools they use to recover the gold are: mercury, a trommel, water pumps, and an excavator. The local village where they extract the gold is across the river, while the nearest town is Romaso, Ghana, and the nearest city is Dunkwa, Ghana.
|Scott and George in search of "Ghana gold" [as oft repeated by the narrator]|
To be fair I have not watched an entire episode of Jungle Gold and have only had the pleasure of watching clips via Discovery Channel's online site.
As far as I can see:
Jungle Gold = 1/4 A-Team + 1/4 Tintin in the Congo + 1/4 Lord of the Rings + 1/4 Reality.
Snippets of Jungle Gold that I find particularly worrying:
- Environmental degradation being shown in Ghana's rich tropical rain-forest
- Seeming absence of any Ghanaian authorities
- The adventurers being shot at by a masked gun man who was caught on film
- The heroes of the piece negotiating with a seemingly dubious British land-owner in Ghana for HIS gold-filled land
These clips got me thinking:
- Where are the Ghanaian chiefs and other authorities in this production?
- When Scott and George were shot at by a gun-man did the police get involved?
- How come the news of a gun-man shooting at foreigners never made it into even one newspaper?
- Was all this gold surface mining done with permits?
- Isn't mass degradation of the environment reserved for Ghanaians only?
- What do Ghanaian authorities have to say about this entire show and the type of image of Ghana it is projecting?
- Is Ghana really a free-for-all for country where foreigners can simply walk in and do mining?
- Are these the types of foreign 'investors' Ghana is attracting?
- Who is checking the activities of these and other foreign 'investors' in Ghana anyway?
Apparently the duo started this quest for gold three years prior to 2012. So that would be in 2009. I must concede that after watching more of the clips, it seems the entire show is probably 80% Lord of the Rings but with very real environmental degradation.
Interestingly, I could only find one article condemning this show from a Ghanaian media source (GhanaMediaNews.com):
This article was from November 2012 and had a link to petition signed by 1,481 people. It seems the premiere of this show in the US last year made few waves in Ghana itself. Was it simply a case of lots of things happening while we were all sleeping?