Wednesday, March 20, 2013

While we were sleeping, the Discovery Channel was projecting an image of Ghana in 'Jungle Gold'

have u seen ?

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 (

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?


LadyNgo said...

I gotta say before even getting past the show description my major question is why is this ok/legal? So i can just carry a camera around with me and steal natural resources and nobody's gonna say less of the fact that i get a tv show and all the spoils thereof for this. Kinda crazy.

And yes TLC is The Learning Channel. Back in the day it used to be a respectable tv station, now its just...well, you see whats on there.

Abena Serwaa said...

hmmmm @LadyNgo I am wondering the same things myself. How on earth did they got permission to film in the first place? I really worry that we don't care enough about protecting our image in Africa.
How sad how TLC has evolved. The only thing I learn these days is what not to wear and also that there are some people who want to put toddlers in tiaras!

Myne Whitman said...

The show like most of what passes for reality TV is up to 95% scripted including the masked gunmen. But I worry about the permissions they got, if they did and the type of mining.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Myne I really wonder how they sold the show to the Ghanaian authorities....if they actually ever did! true about the 95% scripted...

ReadJerome said...

I saw one episode of this show. It certainly feels scripted when you suddenly remember that there were cameras filming all those "random" activities.

Abena Serwaa said...

Hahahahahah @ReadJerome. That sounds hilarious. Now I really have to see a complete episode! I am now very curious

Obed said...

The act of illegal mining aka galamesay is a bad practice. whether these dudes got permit or not before shooting the footages, the evidence on the screen is what we should talk about. I condemn the act and I end by saying it is bad.

Abena Serwaa said...

@Obed, thanks for stopping by. I wholeheartedly agree!