Here is a textbook example of lazy western journalism.

The Guardian recently published an article on Boko Haram. However, the lead image they used was from the Niger Delta. The image is of a pipeline explosion and people on a canoe. I’ve been around my fair share of photo and newsdesk editors, so I know how they think. The writer of the article probably had nothing to do with the image, that was most likely an editor’s decision. The editor probably only used this image because it has an explosion, even though the explosion has nothing to do with Boko Haram and the location of the pictured explosion is not even in the same region of Nigeria where Boko Haram operates. It’s literally at opposite ends of the country. But any picture of an explosion will do.

This is what happens when you don’t have diverse newsdesk editors. No Nigerian (or anyone with a cursory knowledge of Nigeria) would make this kind of mistake.

The same thing goes on with white journalists who are supposed “West Africa experts”, yet they don’t know the difference between Nigerian and Nigerien. Despite these constant mistakes, these white people all have jobs. There are black people who have been fired for far less.


Jean-Michel Basquiat and Nsibidi

Jean-Michel Basquiat was explicitly influenced by nsibidi designs and used many in his works, including anaforuana. Flash of the Spirit by Robert Thompson was Jean-Michel’s favourite book on African art history (via The Radiant Child) which has significant information about nsibidi. Several sources also make the link between his works and nsibidi, particularly in Grillo (1984) above. Nsibidi is all over the work, but I’ve circled out in red the ones that stood out to me. He also wrote out ‘NSIBIDI’ in this drawing.

It’s a heart warming discovery for me for several reasons. Nsibidi is the writing of the African diaspora, it seems.


Poison Fire - A short film about the Niger Delta region in Nigeria.


The Niger Delta is an environmental disaster zone after fifty years of oil exploitation.   One and a half million tons of crude oil has been spilled into the creeks, farms and forests, the equivalent to 50 Exxon Valdez disasters, one per year. Natural gas contained in the crude oil is not being collected, but burnt off in gas flares, burning day and night for decades. The flaring produces as much greenhouse gases as 18 million cars and emits toxic and carcinogenic substances in the midst of densely populated areas. Corruption is rampant, the security situation is dire, people are dying.  But the oil keeps flowing.

Poison Firefollows a team of local activists as they gather “video testimonies” from communities on the impact of oils spills and gas flaring. We see creeks full of crude oil, devastated mangrove forests, wellheads that has been leaking gas and oil for months. We meet  people whose survival is acutely threatened by the loss of farmland, fishing and drinking water and the health hazards of gas flaring. 

We also meet meet with Jonah Gbemre, who took Shell to court over the gas flaring in his village and won a surprise victory in the court.

Ifie Lott travels to the Netherlands to attend Shell’s Annual General Meeting. She wants to ask a simple question:  Is Shell going to obey the court order and stop flaring?  There is a demonstration outside  the meeting hall. Shell’s CEO shows up for the photo op and shakes her hand, and she meets the MD of Shell-Nigeria, Basil Omiyi.  She asks him about the spills and the flaring. He patiently explains Shell’s policies and efforts for social development, but what he says is at odds with reality on the ground.

Back in the Delta, Ifie returns to the communties and shows the taped interview with Omiyo to the victims of the oil industry…

Shell ignored the federal high court ruling. The oil companies continue the illegal gas flaring. Shell has set its own “flares out” deadline to end of 2009. But they have kept saying “next year” for a decade, and in the Delta nobody believes them.

Meanwhile, the oil keeps flowing.

Poison Fire


Poison Fire (2008)

Documentary on the devastating effects of the continuous oil spills, environmental pollution and community neglect in the Niger Delta region.

There have been 5, 000 major oil spills in the Delta 50 years, according to the film.

See for more details on the film.

The Cost of Oil to Nigeria

“Nigeria is the world’s 8th largest producer of crude oil, yet remains one of its poorest nations — an estimated 70 percent of its 150 million residents live below the poverty line. The environment is paying a steep price as well. An estimated 500 million gallons of oil have spilled into the delta — the equivalent of roughly one Exxon Valdez disaster per year,” according to The Atlantic. The American magazine has printed 31 images (from various sources) that illustrate the negative effects of oil production, both “legal” and illegal, on the environment and the people of Nigeria’s Niger Delta. So bad is the practice of gas flaring that the flares are so prevalent, the Niger Delta appears brightly lit (the lower left) in a detail from a NASA image of the Earth taken at night. Below is that image and a few others from the set.


The Supreme Court has agreed to review a decision by a lower court that denied a hearing on the merits of an infamous “torture suit” against Royal Dutch Shell Plc for its alleged actions in Nigeria at a time when government was violently suppressing citizen protests in the Niger Delta.

Families of seven of the Nigerians executed by the government of Pres. Sani Abacha for organizing against Royal Shell claim that the oil company colluded in torture and paid for weapons and soldiers to end the opposition to oil exploration in the region between 1992 and 1995.

The plaintiffs in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum (Shell) were the relatives of playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa, Dr Barinem Kiobel and other Ogoni leaders imprisoned, tortured and executed in the mid-1990s. Their crime was protesting the environmental devastation associated with Shell’s long tenure in the region.

Judge José A. Cabranes of the Manhattan-based federal Second Circuit Court of Appeals, writing for the 2-1 majority, ruled that transnational corporations who participate in gross human rights abuses cannot be held responsible for torture, genocide, war crimes and the like because, as corporations, their activities fall outside the jurisdiction of international law.

[read more]

Nigeria is the largest oil-producing country in Africa and the continent’s biggest supplier of crude petroleum to the United States. More than 2 million barrels of oil are extracted from the Niger Delta, the main oil-producing region, every day. This output is achieved through operations that are racked by pollution, corruption and violent economic dispute.

Samuel James, a New York City photographer, traveled to Nigeria in 2012 to document the ongoing environmental and social problems tied to the country’s oil industry. For his series The Water of My Land, James went deep into the creeks of the Delta to document the illicit theft and refining of crude oil by locals who are drawn to illegal activity against a backdrop of dire poverty in the region.

“Billions of dollars of oil are pumped out of the delta each year but the economic conditions on the ground have really remained the same. There’s been little effort to develop these areas in which the oil is being extracted,” says James, who laments the fact that not enough of the profits from oil have been used to improve basic services such as roads, healthcare and education.

“The local population has been pushed to the wall. Bunkering is very hot and very toxic. It’s not work anyone would want to do. I’m just trying to make that point.”

Bonga oil spill impacted 168,000 fishermen, 350 communities

Over 168,000 fishermen and 350 communities in Delta and Bayelsa states were heavily impacted by the Bonga 2011 oil spill incident from the off-shore field belonging to Shell Nigeria Production and Exploration Company (SNEPCO).

The paramount ruler of Olobia community in Koluama Kingdom, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Howells Levi disclosed this in an interview on Monday in Yenagoa. He said the affected fishermen were ordered by oil industry regulators to stop fishing activities to avoid catching contaminated fish.

Levi said the fishermen were deprived of their income whilst the oil spill response and clean-up activities lasted and that the people deserved to be compensated for the loss of income.

An operational failure at the SNEPCO’s facility in 2011 had resulted in the oil spill incident, which discharged 40,000 barrels of oil into the Atlantic Ocean.

In December 2014, the House of Representatives and National Oil Spills Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) had recommended a compensation of $3.96 billion for victims of the incident.

Levi said the just-concluded verification of claims of impacted people showed that six local government areas on the fringe of the Atlantic in Delta and Bayelsa were seriously impacted by the spill incident.

He said: “The Bonga spill incident elicited a lot of claims many of which were very frivolous; initially more than 2,000 communities thronged Shell, asking for compensation.

“But when we appointed Attorneys and conducted a verification exercise, it was streamlined and we found out that 168,000 persons in 350 communities suffered the negative impact of the spill.

“The impacted LGAs are Ekeremor, Southern Ijaw and Brass in Bayelsa while Warri-North, Warri-South and Burutu in Delta and each of the council areas produced 28,000 victims”.

Shell destroys lives in the Niger Delta with zero accountability.

Tompolo Hails Buhari On Amnesty Programme Boss Appointment

Tompolo Hails Buhari On Amnesty Programme Boss Appointment

Government Tompolo: a very influential ex-militant A former leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Chief Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Brig. Gen. Paul Boroh(retd.) as the new chairman of the Presidential Amnesty Programme. He said the action of the President only portrayed him as a listening leader…

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