Tainted Gold

A Ghanaian gold mine (I do not own this photo and it is strictly for educational purposes)

Sitting in the back of a smoky casino there is an american playing three card poker. To his right is a young chinese woman who is screaming across the table in mandarin at another chinese man. To his left is an indian man wearing a turban who is confidently calling the dealer’s bet and the man next to him is an old south african who is chatting up one of the ghanaian workers.

Sitting at this table is perhaps one of the most culturally diverse groups you will ever see, yet one thing connects all of them: gold.

These businessmen have all traveled to Kumasi, Ghana from the “bush”, which is what the locals refer to as the surrounding countryside where hundreds of gold mines reside.

Ghana was named the “Gold Coast” during colonialism for its plethora of the precious metal. Back then every mile of territory in the region was sought after for the potential gold that laid beneath its soil. Less than 100 years later, the gold still remains and it’s no secret. Entrepreneurs from around the world travel to Ghana each year to try to get a piece of the wealth.

But this abundance has not brought the riches one might assume would come with it. Instead, corruption and violence has become the norm for everyone involved in Ghana’s mining business; an industry that is completely controlled by foreign investors. The only cut Ghana gets out of its own gold supply is the small amount people pay for the rights to mine it.

Even then, most miners don’t bother with paying the entry fee. Instead they’ll take their chances with bribing police officers to keep quiet. If they don’t keep quiet then they’ll hire someone else who will, and their first task will be to kill the whistleblower.

It is a system that is sustained by foreign influences to exploit a less organized situation and disenfranchise a local population.

I haven’t heard of something like that since colonialism.

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