Gold Diggers and Holy Men in ‘The Hillside Crowd’

AfricAvenir, in partnership with the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre (FNCC) will screen ‘The Hillside Crowd’ in Namibia for the first time on Wednesday, 11 June at 18h30.

A makeshift gold mine on the remote Diosso hillside in Burkina Faso has attracted a swarm of gold diggers and dynamite blasters, healers and dealers, vendors and prostitutes, children, holy men and barbers.

Living in the promiscuous closeness of a crowded and improvised gold town, these men and women are recklessly determined to find the gold that will change their lives. The film explores their desperate quest for fortune and elusive happiness. The gold rush is relentless.

Through intimate interviews, the film traces the poverty that compels informal miners and the people who support them to seek work in the ever-shifting hillside camps. The mobility of the people who inhabit these spaces is impossible to overlook. Everyone at the camp is from somewhere else on the continent, with one miner boasting a work trajectory spanning seven different countries. Miners, barbers and prostitutes alike point to a lack of work in their home community as a primary factor in their decision to seek their fortune in the camps.

Although most of the people express a desire to return home with money for their struggling families, the film documents the features of camp life that keep them there: holy men who encourage dreams of an elusive lucky strike as a way to make their own fortune unscrupulous gold buyers barbers and healers who charge exorbitant prices for services and, most importantly, social pressure to spend whatever money they do make on alcohol, gambling and women.

In this way, the camp is also portrayed as a heavily masculinised space. The miners here seem to be exclusively men, and their fighting, smoking, drinking, gambling and partying are shown to dominate public camp life. Women and children appear surreptitiously at the edge of the scenes, but the few women who merit interviews are those selling sex.

‘The Hillside Crowd’ will be screened at the FNCC Cinema. Entrance is N$20.

Source : The Namibian