Oil companies are devastating West African communities. The Niger River Delta used to be one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth, but after decades of oil extraction the region has been ravaged.
Introducing Sokari Douglas Camp ‘All The World Is Now Richer’
In this interview, Sokari Douglas Camp discusses her art, her creative process, and her life growing up in the Niger Delta. She also talks about her Kalabari heritage and the inspirations she draws from it. She speaks about the issues facing the peoples of the Niger Delta at the hands of oil companies and the Nigerian government. Sokari Douglas Camp also talks about creating a commemoration remembering Ken Saro-Wiwa and the eight other MOSOP leaders who were executed with him. She also touches upon the blanket term of “African Art”
The Endless Beauty of Killifish: Fundulopanchax Part 1
F. Robertsoni, F. Fallax, F. Sjoestedti var. Delta Niger, F. Walkeri, F. Sjoestedti var. Loe, F. Scheeli, F. Oeseri, F. Amieti, F. Gardneri Nigerianus ‘jos plateau’, F. Sjoestedti var. Delta Niger ‘Blue Gularis’.
On Tuesday last week, Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi a representative of the Southern Delta ethnic group Ogale, continued an incredibly admiral continuation of work initiated by Ken Saro Wiwa and countless of other individuals in 1990. The establishment of UNPO to recognise the plight minority groups in Nigeria who are far too often denyed the right to excersise their political power in face of continued and heightened exploitiation by multinational companies with the compliancy of Nigerian instate institutions.
This court case, regardless of it’s outcome, will definitely shed light on two issues. One being, institution positions which continues to be passed unto individuals who contest power for wealth and not to respect the social contract(s) which they are in place for and the second being that despite the adversity these communities face (adversities which would have never been allowed to either happen in Europe) there’s resistance and a continued fight for accountability.
“To truly understand a people, you must see them as they see themselves.”
So I present to you, The Nigeria I see. Also, I know a lot of you being typical internet users, or just… Nigerians, would not have checked the pictures as requested…i see you. So I’m giving you a slice today with some of the pictures I really liked.
Nigeria is an eclectic mix (PS, I hope that applies) geographically we have arguably 2 absolutely different areas; rainforests and subtle desert (quite a leap!) we have over 250languages, different cultures complete with an individual set of deities, different religions, beliefs…but what exactly unites us?
A volkgeist. The spirit of the times. A common consciousness cutting across people.
Let’s take a look at the average Nigerian; the 9-5ers living on the mainland working on the island, who wake up four am and sleep 11pm, because that’s when they arrive home. The market woman, who after sending the children to school, because she wants a better life for them, bargains and haggles till late at night, so their school fees don’t get in late. The young man hawking in traffic, resorting to sweating hours under the sun for meagre pay, rather than turn to a life of crime. The fuel pump attendant, a university graduate with dreams of a better life. The underpaid but hardworking government teacher. The farmer hoping on the government for their promise of aid and fertilizer. The entrepreneur, broke, but rich in ideas. The undergraduate who just failed a course for refusing to “play ball”. The vulcanizer, the food seller, the little girl living in a slum, who attends a pay-per-day school built on stilts, twice a week, so that her siblings can rotate their parents meagre income. The pensioner, a formerly ardent government worker, who hasn’t gotten his benefits in years. And then of course there is the bus driver himself, who dreamed of getting an education, and being more in life, but a death in the family, bad grades, a lack of funding, problems as a teen; one of these if not all of these, doused that dream pretty fast.
And while you’d expect to see the defeat in their faces, and sometimes we do, that’s not all that’s there. There is an awareness that tomorrow will still come, a belief that it will be better, and an unconscious consciousness that their struggle is in some way being shared by the person next to them.
The Nigerian spirit is that of defiance, of stubbornness, the story of a willingness to survive , in the face of contrary evidence, made more glaring with each sunrise.
Not that we make excuses for our government, or lack of it, we see their flaws, we know our contributions to it and know that despite their inadequacies, and ours, we will survive.
No electricity, buy a ‘gen’. No water, get a borehole. Transformer blown, community contributes money to buy one. No transportation, create your own.
We are resilient people. That should be celebrated.
We also are a good people, despite contrary evidence. You find this in our eagerness To Help, even though the directions we give will make you walk two streets to an address around the corner. It’s in the security of leaving purchased goods with a “CUSTOMER” at the market knowing you’ll meet them there when you get back. Or in the deep voice telling you in the bus “aunty, remove your phone from the window, they steal in this area”. Or in going to the cinemas and everyone is cracking jokes and laughing along with each other, while clearly displayed for their viewing pleasure is a sign that reads “SILENCE” , and the movie is all the more better for it. Or when a young lady leaves her seat for a pregnant woman, because not only men can be gentle. Or when a businessman obviously rushing somewhere is confronted with the dilemma of helping an old lady cross the expressway, at a bus stop for which there is no bridge; he quickly looks up to the sky as though praying not to be late for his meeting, looks down, smiles and simultaneously offers his hand to her, and gallantly walks get across both sides of the express, and a service lane, after which she heaps him with a steady stream of prayers, he smiles and turns around, muttering about it not being a problem, he’s almost definitely late now, but he streaks across the express back to the original bus stop, with the ghost of a smile on his face.
And finally the story of the little girl who smiles and waves at traffic wardens always, because she thinks it might help them smile more. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it makes not only traffic wardens smile.