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The Ambitious Gold Prospectors

02-23-2021, 08:58 AM
محمد التجاني عمر قش
<aمحمد التجاني عمر قش
Registered: 10-22-2012
Total Posts: 501

The Ambitious Gold Prospectors

    07:58 AM February, 23 2021

    Sudanese Online
    محمد التجاني عمر قش-
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    The Ambitious Gold Prospectors
    Mohamed Tijani Omer Gush
    [email protected]

    Gold prospectors, since the early years of the gold rush, have wanted only one thing: gold and this is still the case. Indeed, the gold prospectors, in Sudan are encouraged by stories about ancient civilizations, which flourished, along the Nile valley and the Sahara, depending on gold mining as the main source of income. Grandmothers and old men often told the younger generations stories about ancient people who perished when they only mined gold and did nothing else to earn their living. Nonetheless, the high price of gold has inspired thousands of people to become gold miners, many of whom are spending most of their time prospecting for the precious yellow metal.
    Haunted by big dreams, young men from different parts of the country are heading towards remote areas in quest for fortune. Their dreams are further fostered by the flow of information about people who suddenly became rich by striking a big rock just below the surface of the ground.
    A person from the neighboring village earned more than two-hundred million pounds last month. Two brothers were getting several kilos of the precious yellow metal every other week. A poor young man became one of the richest persons in the area. Last month, he bought a multistory building in one of the most affluent districts in Khartoum, and got the latest model Toyota Landcruiser. He had a legendary wedding. People, from different lifestyles attended the event because he got married to a beautiful girl from a renowned aristocratic family! A boy from our village now has more than five hundred camels and he got married to two young women. He has built a big house and bought a brand new 4-wheel drive Toyota Hilux! Poets are reciting fascinating poems about this young man, who is giving enormous amounts of money to his friends and visitors alike.
    Accordingly, a group of young men in the village decided to try out their luck in the Northern Province where gold was said to be found abundantly just below the surface. The night before, that group of young men had a farewell party near the sand dune located to the west from the houses! They slaughtered a he-goat, drank and danced folklore dance.
    Some of the gold prospectors had various dreams. One of them had a dream about falling on an object, which turned to be a piece of the precious yellow metal! It was two kilos heavy. He bought a new car and built a house.
    Ahmed, who was on his fourth journey to the mining area, had an agonizing nightmare! He saw his mother trying to save him from falling into a very deep well. He was about to change his mind had it not been for his friends who insisted on having him with the group. He is an experienced gold miner as well as being a lucky person. Last time he earned a big sum of money, which was enough to take his father to see the doctor in a famous hospital in Khartoum.
    Ahmad’s mother hugged him so passionately to the extent that he began to hesitate again. Eventually, he kissed his mother’s head, and he shook hands with his family members and bid them farewell. Ahmed then went to see his father off. His father asked him earnestly to stay with them in order to look after their sheep and camels because the shepherd had already left for the gold mining area. Ahmed insisted on going with his friends; so the old man put a small amount of money in his pocket, wished him good luck and said he was pleased with him.
    A crowd of his relatives gathered in front of his father’s house to bid Ahmed a farewell. A young woman waved her hand shyly, from behind the crowd; she was wiping her tears, while feeling something most akin to sorrow. Ahmed smiled back to her as if he was promising something. In addition, he looked at his mobile phone gesturing that he would call soon.
    The Toyota Hilux, 1981 model, left the village early that morning, just before sunrise. The enthusiastic driver made a loud honk. The passengers waved their hands as they passed some villagers who were on their way to the village water-well or going to milk their goats.
    The car drove quickly through thick trees. After, three-hour drive, the young men saw huge sand dunes, then a group of small rocky hills suddenly broke the endless, flat horizon. The desert spread out before them, looking like a sea of sand, shimmering with heat. It was a burning, merciless desert of glare and mirage. There were at least ten young men on the car. Each of them had his own expectations but they all had one thing in common that they would be rich in a glimpse of an eye.
    The mining activity has fueled a surge in the sales of gold pans, portable dredges, metal detectors, hammers, chisels, shovels, and other gold prospecting tools. However, upon their arrival at Abu Hamad, the nearest town to the mining area, the young men first visited the shop selling mining tools. They bargained with the shop owner, who was also a jeweler, and he eventually agreed to lend them some money and give them the necessary tools, on condition that they would sell what they got to him.
    The group made ready to leave for the goldfield the next day. They bought enough supplies such as food, special shoes and clothes, lanterns and batteries. In addition, they rented a truck to carry them there. The site was a bit far away in the desert, so they had to take enough water with them. Some people also advised the young men to take some medicine and watch out for scorpion bites.
    Being the eldest person and most experienced one of the group, the group decided to choose Ahmed as the team leader. He made a strict shift schedule and explained the applicable rules and digging instructions to the new miners who would have to comply with the same obediently. Certain work was assigned to each of the group members. Some had to take care of their tent and prepare food, while others were to dig the ground and some were required to pull out the pails, full of dug up rocks.
    Life on the goldfield was hard and often not very rewarding. Working underground was extremely dangerous, and a minor mistake could lead to a catastrophe and end one’s life in a flash!
    Indeed, gold miners work in deep dark wells where they have to use battery operated lights or sometimes lanterns to find their way down the wells. Moreover, the life of gold miners is a series of expectations, horrors and hardships, often without any real or significant reward, that is why gold prospectors often drank heavily to face those difficult situations. In some cases, prospectors responded to these challenges with humor, resilience and even sometimes despair.
    The group started work so enthusiastically. Ahmed was helpful and energetic, and most of the young men depended on him; nonetheless, they had to work laboriously, as they dug down the gold well. Fortunately, after a few meters down the well, one the boys shouted: “gold” and he put a piece of yellowish rock into the pail! When they pulled the pail up, the young men were surprised to see that big discovery. They all shouted hysterically. Ahmed told them to cool down at that moment and thank Allah. Many people from the nearby gold wells came to congratulate them.
    They went back to Abu Hamad at the weekend. They had a big meal in a very famous popular restaurant. Two weeks later, Ahmed’s family received an enormous sum of money. His father was keen to buy more sheep. Ahmed arranged with his sister to take some money to Halima, his cousin, who cried sadly when she saw him off. The other young men also sent money to their relatives. In Abu Hamad, Ahmed and his friends spent happy time. In fact, they rejoiced lavishly! One of the team members bought an expensive mobile phone and many garments. He even ordered a pair of shoes made of tiger leather be sent to him from Omdurman. Another one of the group decided to stay in Abu Hamad when his friends wanted to go back to the goldfield. However, when they came back the next time, the man was almost penniless, that he begged them to pay for his hotel room.
    The news about their discovery spread all over the area; therefore, more people wanted to join them at the goldfield. About seven young men headed to the Northern Province immediately at the first opportunity. They deserted their farms and animals in the hope that they would return soon with their pockets full of money, but months after months passed without any of them even having come back.
    A few weeks later, the youngest one in the group began to cough badly. Ahmed had to take him to the doctor. After examination, it was clear that the young man was suffering from a serious lung disease because he inhaled dust and other emissions resulting from the chemicals used by the miners. The doctor advised Ahmed to take his relative to a specialized hospital in Khartoum where he could get better treatment. Thus, they had to collect all their earnings to help their friend. Ahmed and another man had to accompany the sick person because he could not take care of himself. They drove the whole way from Abu Hamad to Khartoum in a truck. When they arrived at the hospital, the man’s condition worsened terribly. The doctors tried to save his life in many ways but he eventually passed away.
    Ahmed and his companion attended the funeral and the mourning period at the village. Everybody was weeping sadly. Salah was expected by his teachers to be a prominent figure one day. In fact, he was an undergraduate student at the college of engineering; but he went in that mining quest, or rather ran that risk, because the college was closed for a long period due to political unrest in the university.
    Then Ahmed and his friend wanted to go back to their work. Their parents earnestly asked them to stay but they insisted on going back. Halima, in particular, made many gestures to Ahmed to make him stay, but he had to go. Immediately upon arriving at the gold field, they started working hard to make up for the losses they incurred because of that sad incident.
    Unfortunately, all their efforts were in vain for more than two months. They were quite depressed, so some of them decided to go back to the village empty handed. It was not easy to take that decision; that is why two of the young men stayed in Omdurman and began to make regular phone calls with friends in the goldfield to send them money, just to sustain themselves or otherwise to buy the return tickets to the mining area! Of course, they did not get any feedback because the circumstances in the mining area got even worse! These young men began to borrow money from the tea sellers to buy recharge cards for their mobile phones.
    One day, while some team members were working in a night shift, they went deep down the gold well, carrying their lights, when suddenly, one the of young men saw a glittering object! He hit the rock with the hammer so violently in a moment of excitement. The well completely collapsed all of a sudden! Ahmed tried to call the police but there was no mobile phone network in the mining area. He sent one of the team members to a nearby comp to seek assistance. The rescue team arrived after eight hours. They worked hard to save the miners. However, only Salim was alive when the rescuers dug up the debris. Ahmed and his friends buried three of their relatives that morning.
    Gold dream was still the driving force for the remaining persons. Ahmed calmed his team members and reassured them after they had endured all that grief. He told them that death is always expected to come everywhere, even if one was in his bed! The News came that a man had discovered new gold wells in a nearby area. Ahmed and one of his team members went to the owner of the new wells and asked him to let them work with him and they promised to give him a certain percentage of their earnings. In their first week, at the new site, fortune smiled upon Ahmed and his team. They earned about half a kilo of gold, which was a good start.
    Because he was away from home for almost a year, Rabih wanted to go back after he had received his share. He took the bus from Abu Hamad to Omdurman where he bought new clothes for his family, many foodstuffs, spices and some perfumes such as sandalwood and mahlab for his wife. Rabih rented a car from Omdurman to his village. His family received him so happily. His father slaughtered a sheep and invited all the neighbors. Rabih told them many fictitious stories about the gold miners and life at the gold field. At night, Rabih went to his own hut with his wife. He was shocked to see her big belly. The young woman was divorced before dawn!
    Hamad and Ali were close friends. They were both among Ahmed’s team. They always worked in the same shift. They earned almost the same amounts of money. It was Hamad’s dream to own a Hino ZS. He worked hard and saved money so that he could achieve his goal. He eventually managed to purchase that vehicle. He started transporting goods and passengers between Omdurman and El-Fashir, the capital city of Northern Darfur State. He gained the confidence of many merchants in the city because he was trustworthy and punctual, and he was doing perfectly well.
    One day, Hamad was driving to Darfur when he met a convoy of trucks carrying people from several African nationalities on their way to Libya. Hamad talked to one of the drivers who told Hamad that they were earning enormous amounts of money that way; therefore, Hamad decided to accompany them in their next journey. However, He got the address and telephone number of their agent in Omdurman. Hamad contacted the man soon after he arrived there. The agent told him that there were about fifty persons heading to Libya. Hamad prepared for the journey so well and left for the specified destination. He drove along a dreary desert road until he was about to cross the border but he was suddenly caught by a squad from the Rapid Support Forces. The squad took Hamad to prison. The judge sentenced him to five years imprisonment and his truck was confiscated!
    Ali, on his part, refused to work in the trafficking of human beings. He started his own business in a small town near the mining area. In fact, Ali was a reliable person and people began to trust him. They often left their money and other belongings with him we they went to the mining field. He became a prominent figure in the town. He was the de facto bailee and guarantor for most of the people working in the area. As a result, Ali was now a well-off merchant. In addition, even the government officials sought his assistance to overcome problems and settle disputes arising between traditional gold miners and other parties.
    On the other hand, Khalifah, who was a very wise man, used to deposit his money in the bank before going back to gold field. He worked with his collogues in the new well. In less than a month, Khalifah was able to gain a sufficient amount of money to purchase a small house in a suburban area of Omdurman. He called his elder son to move the family from the village to their new dwelling. He enrolled his children in a big school and arranged with a friend to look for a Toyota Hiace for him. After three, month Khalifah decided to give up mining for gold and he came to live with his family. He went to a driving school where he got his driving license and began to support his family from the income, which he earned from his own car.
    Khalid, a secondary school 2nd grade student, and a team member with Ahmed, was very lucky. He got more than 100,000,000 pounds in less than a month. It was his ambition to buy a Galaxy s8 mobile phone, sunglasses and some fine clothes. He went back to Omdurman where he bought these items and gifts for his family and friends. At the village, his friends, who were still attending the local school, received him joyfully. He told them stories about his trip and the interesting things he did at the goldfield and Abu Hamad, while they drank and smoked hashish. Surprisingly, when the teacher entered the classroom the following day, there were only about ten students!
    A big number of young gathered at the gold field under Ahmed’s leadership in his capacity as the team leader. Some of the team members were too young to work in the wells; therefore, they were assigned the easier jobs such as cooking and fending the tents while the others were at work. These young men also helped with the sifting of the dugout rocks. Ahmed was keen and anxious that they go back to their school immediately upon getting the least amount of money! However, some of them were reluctant, or in fact, they were not willing to continue their schooling; “money is better and more important than education”, one of them said! Ahmed was determined that they would go back; therefore, upon earning the next amount, he decided to divide it among the students. He also told one of the team members to accompany them to the village.
    Ahmed continued to lead his team diligently. He was keen that everyone would achieve his dream eventually. He sought assistance from Faisal, a lawyer, who was prospecting for gold, to form a company in the name of the team so that they could invest their earnings properly. However, some of the young men opposed the idea and it did not get ahead!
    One day, Ahmed woke up early to start his daily schedule, but he noticed that some of the team members were not there! He was very worried and concerned about them. Two days later, the young men called from a small village at the border between Sudan and Egypt. They invited the other members of the group to join them because some persons were making big discoveries close to the border. Ahmed did not allow his remaining team members to take that risk. The young men worked hard at the border until they got a good fortune. They were preparing for the return journey, when a squad from the Egyptian border guard arrested them under the pretext that they crossed the borders illegally. All their properties were confiscated and they were sentenced to six months imprisonment! Ahmed notified the Sudanese concerned authorities and negotiations are still underway to release these young prospectors.
    Ahmed succeeded to make a good fortune, after many futile attempts. He sent money to his family regularly. He had a nice house built adjacent to his father’s house. He arranged with his father to go to Halima’s father and ask her hand in marriage for him. Her father agreed immediately. The family was very happy about this news, and both families agreed that the wedding would be after the Eid.
    Ahmed worked hard to prepare for his marriage. He sent more money to his mother and sisters to buy the “Shaylah” and to pay the dowry. His friends asked many poets and local singers to attend the wedding. At the mining area, Ahmed colleagues collected a good sum of many to support their team leader.
    Ahmed left Abu Hamad to Omdurman early that morning. After a while, it began to rain. The road was quite slippery and they were driving very fast. Suddenly, their pickup truck hit a lorry, and two of the passengers lost their lives instantly. However, Ahmed was badly injured and was taken to hospital, with a severe spine fracture and traumatic brain injury; therefore, Halima will be waiting for her knight of dreams who will never arrive!


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