Galamsey is a pidgin english formulation of “gather them and sell”. It is the name given to the illegal gold miners working across West Africa. Armed with only a pick axe, galamseys dig 4ft wide shafts that go up to 200ft underground in the quest for finding gold.
Writer and director, Lucy, previously worked as an exploration geologist for a gold mining company in West Africa and spent a lot of time in the chair below, analysing drilled rock samples. The genesis of this film happened in this chair. Illegal galamsey mining usually always occurs in the shadows of Industrial mining operations. In fact, explorers often use galamsey miners as a marker of where to start looking for gold deposits. Galamseys were doing the same job as she was; finding the gold and getting it out of the ground. Galamsey miners are only illegal if the land they mine is owned by a mining company. In areas that are not owned, galamseys are simply artisanal miners rather than illegal miners. Sat in that chair, Lucy had front row seats to the world of galamsey mining that was going on all around her.
Off the back of the global financial crisis in 2008, the price of gold skyrocketed to its highest in history. This created a global gold rush. In places like Burkina Faso, men, women and children suddenly dropped their farming tools and left their home villages to move to makeshift galamsey towns to mine for gold and sell it to local buyers. At the same time, Industrial mining companies upped their operations to maximise on high gold prices. This created conflict in these highly prized areas.
Lots of money began to circulate in make-do galamsey towns, which attracted others trying to make quick money in different ways - prostitution, drug pushing and the set up of ad hoc bars. Miners were sucked into a life of easy money, drink and drugs and often never returned home. Lucy gradually became aware of the dark side of galamsey mining and was intrigued by the stories of how different people had ended up there.
Lucy began writing a script drawing inspiration from the miners she saw everyday, the people she spoke to in the galasmey town and the stories told by the locals guys who worked with her. She started to create the life and story of a galamsey miner, Adama, and his two closest friends, Zeba and Moussa. This short film is just the beginning of their story.