Watch the pre-recorded Q&A with filmmaker here.
For more than a century, South Africa was the world’s largest producer of gold, more of the precious metal having been extracted from its reserves than in the rest of the world combined.
Today, however, many of these mines have closed and new waves of migrants are entering the abandoned but unsealed mine shafts to scavenge for the remaining gold. The most daring of these informal miners are called zama zamas, meaning ‘to keep on trying’ and also ‘to gamble’.
The work is dangerous, both for the men who go underground and for the women who grind the rock by hand in order to extract the gold. Without helmets, safety equipment, or ventilation, and lighting the way with only bicycle head-lamps, these zama zamas are indeed gamblers who risk everything, although they have little choice if they want to earn an income. We are Zama Zama tells their stories.
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