Tuesday 7 August 2007

The First Gulder Ultimate Death

The search for reality

The problem with reality shows is they do pertain to more reality than fiction or acting out some contrived event. There is no telling that at times producers could connive to instigate a particular scene through manipulation with the intent of gaining notoriety with the consequence of higher audience figures leading to more advertisement revenue and lucrative sponsorships.

Of the many that visit our screens in Europe and are now making rounds in Africa, Big Brother and West African Idols have been received with some acclaim.

I was not however aware of one Gulder Ultimate Search run under the auspices of the Nigerian Breweries which is part of the Dutch Heineken Brewery group.

Apparently, it is some survival of the fittest kind of game where physical challenges need to be surmounted and in the process the weaker ones get eliminated.

Shere Hills and beauty

It was about to commence its fourth season and prospective contestants were taken to Shere Hills in Plateau State where they were to demonstrate their physical prowess and deftness as the case may be.

Now, I do remember Shere Hills as the site of the 1st All African Scouts Jamboree in 1976, but before then we lived in Jos and it was in some way a place for touristy recreation.

Drowned? How?

However, the news is a contestant named Anthony Ogadje died whilst preparing for the programme.

The devil must be in the detail somewhere but I am not sure we have that detail that clearly states what happened.

Apparently, the young man drowned and died suddenly - a drowning accident - the company states, I have analysed this scenario with all sorts of permutations and cannot seem to make it compute that a man somehow got into water, drowned and died suddenly.

For instance, did he fall off something into the lake or was he swimming in the water and he encountered some difficulty that nobody noticed till it became too late?

It is quite commendable that there was an attendant medical team and lifeguards as well as his fellow contestants about to help, but it is great concern that the situation was so bad that lifeguards trained in first aid for drowning and medical staff supposedly trained in resuscitation techniques could do nothing to save this man.

Basically, I am saying the story just does not add up at all.

Survival or suffering?

This is a survival show and I would suspect a good deal of it would be about endurance, strength and the ability to withstand high thresholds of pain or other forms of deprivation better than other contestants.

What makes me even more suspicious of the event is in May in Boulder, Utah in America, a man who was on a desert survival trek was refused water and succour that in the midst of fellow contestants and guides he died of thirst - in some ways, he was the weak one, but no contest should offer so great a reward and also exact a great price as to involve the loss of life.

Not pandering to the weak obviously makes a contest look really tough, it stops other contestants thinking one is favoured over the other and certain personalities might not know the limits of their abilities or cannot afford to give up too easily for pride and price that they might do something really foolish.

Maybe ...

One would suppose that is why there is a medical team, lifeguards, umpires and adjudicators about as well as a television crew to help ensure that all matters are handled with commonsense.

The phrase drowning accident baffles me, you can have a car crash or a car accident, but I do not think you can have a crash accident except of you were organising a crash and then had an accident. At the risk of being pedantic, the drowning would have be an accident as a result of doing something probably in the water, a drowning accident however sounds like a drowning that went wrong - maybe I have had a glass of wine too many.

But really, I do not think I would be far from the truth if looking at the lake, the lifeguards and the possibility of drowning, the contest was about how long people could hold their breath under water as a kind of endurance test - the man probably held it for so long that they thought he was breaking a record when in fact his soul was breaking away from his body.

Worse still it could have been dunking where the head is forcibly immersed in water as a form of torture or in this case horseplay.

Even so, since this game is about the search for treasure, probably the said treasure was placed in a proverbial Davy Jones' Locker - the truth will out somehow and hopefully very soon and the contestants had better start speaking up.

Assessing responsibility

If that turns out to be the truth, there would have been a gross dereliction of duty of the organisers from simple team discipline if people had gone off to do their own thing unsupervised along with issues of safety, but in the end, nothing short of manslaughter charges should be filed on anyone who has a stake in that show.

That is the fact of reality shows, something really bad could happen and when it happens it could be happening to you.

The quest to win the 4th Gulder Ultimate Search Mr. Ogadje came upon the unexpected 1st Gulder Ultimate Death, so, so sad.

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