Ladies in Blue Katako Grain Market Niamey Niger Photo Hugh Ardoin

Katako is one of the most important markets in Niamey

Apparently chaotic but organised in trade zones according to timeless African tradition of castes and crafts

You can sense the strong imprint of the 15th Century Songhai Empire and even older empires that followed the long exodus of the African people from Egypt

This is the grain market in the early morning

Women in their traditional blue dresses relating them to their specific community start unpacking for a busy day of talking, haggling and selling

Hugh Ardoin Africa by any Means Necessary Gallery

Niger Delta Avengers

Militancy Re-emerges in Nigeria’s Oil-Rich Niger Delta

Gas flares burn from pipes at an oil flow station operated by Nigerian Agip Oil Co. Ltd., a division of Eni SpA, in Idu, Nigeria, in September. Nigeria was Africa’s biggest oil producer before attacks shrunk production. Photo: George Osodi.

For the last couple of months a militant group in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria have been destroying oil pipelines and facilities owned by international oil companies and have achieved their goal of crippling the Nigerian economy.

A summary: The Niger Delta Avengers have managed to quickly reduce Nigeria from the first to the second oil-producing African state after Angola and the country has gone into recession, the groups activities are also affecting global oil prices. The ‘Avengers’ are demanding a sovereign state in the Niger Delta with complete control of their resources, primarily oil which is Nigeria’s main industry and which the federal government of Nigeria largely relies on. The ‘Avengers’ movement is heavily associated with the deepening north-south divide in Nigeria; the last president Goodluck Jonathan was from the Niger Delta in the south and the current president Muhammadu Buhari, a former dictator, is from the north and has been accused by some of filling in key positions in the military and the Nigerian government with northerners. In 2015 the current president stated that he cannot treat everybody equally and that the areas of Nigeria who gave him 97% of his votes (mostly in the northern areas) would receive priority in his presidency over those who gave him 5% (the south east where the Niger Delta is).

A fish farmer stands among a polluted environment in the Niger Delta caused by oil bunkering and the operations of international oil companies. Photo: George Osodi.

The Niger Delta Avengers have emerged primarily as a result of the long degradation and poverty in the oil-rich Niger Delta areas, they are only the latest militant group in the area after other militant groups were given an amnesty deal during the last presidency; since the ‘Avengers’ recent activities other militant groups, some more aggressive, have emerged. The Nigerian armed forces have tried intercepting the group, but the groups guerilla tactics have caused the Nigerian armed forces to pull out of the swampy delta. So far civilians have not been the target of the ‘Avengers’ and they consider the battle to be between them and the Nigerian government; many people in Nigeria especially in the delta areas are supportive of the militants. They are increasingly being associated with the Biafran agitation in eastern Nigeria where a side of Nigeria is agitating for independence from Nigeria. This is a summary of their demands and activities via international and Nigerian news organisations:

Who are the Niger Delta Avengers?

[…] The militants say they do not want to spill blood. But they are heavily armed and in communication with angsty independence campaigners in the south-eastern region which calls itself Biafra. Smaller groups are popping up all over the Delta. Nigeria is already fighting one war, against Boko Haram jihadists in the north-east. It cannot afford another in the south. At its peak, oil accounted for 75% of government revenue—in the first quarter of this year that figure had fallen to just over 50%. As things stand, the attacks might cost Nigeria 40% of this year’s crude earnings. Local banks, which are exposed to indigenous producers, are clocking up bad debts. Power plants, which rely on gas to fuel their turbines, are turning on fewer lights than normal (which is a feat). The best hope will be a negotiated solution. Yet even that would not solve the fundamental problem: unless Nigeria pulls more of the Delta out of poverty, a new group will soon spring up.

The Economist explains, June 30th, 2016.

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I own you! #indie #indiemusic #Nigeritis #miamihiphop #dj #djbooth #jettd

Made with Instagram

I met Fayrouz Ahmed Haider  in a grim refugee camp in Yemen. Just 11 years old, she was already married. She reminded me of someone else: a girl I had met thousands of miles away in the West African nation of Niger.

Her name was Balki Souley. Like Fayrouz, she had also been married off as a child.

I met Balki in the summer of 2012. She had just lost her son during childbirth, and her body was frail, so weakened by hunger, that she nearly died herself. Balki was 14 then. She was married at 12.

Young Herders Niger The Red Planet Photo Hugh Ardoin

Encounters at the desert’s crossroads, in the middle of a place with no roads

Roaming the arid rock and iron red flatlands that run to the horizon all round  

A group of young herders look after the family’s sheep and goats and the occasional cow

They have never been to school but they are sporting trendy albeit worn-out T-shirts and shorts

The leader looks at the camera with an arrogant eye, his weapon of mass destruction slung around his neck

Young David waiting for his Goliath-day

Hugh Ardoin Niger The Red Planet Gallery

Banana Glama Niamey Streets Niger Photo Hugh Ardoin

Like a banana beauty pageant, while the jury is pondering

Elegance, attitude and carriage are the standards

Just in my own imagination , people sit and look on 

The passer-bys are like the flow of a slow river of colours

It will wane to a complete stop when the night will come

Hugh Ardoin Africa by any Means Necessary Gallery

Bombino ‎– Nomad

Nonesuch ‎– 534291-1


Been after this one for awhile.  Desert rock, from an artist who actually lives in the desert.  Recorded in Nashville and produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys.   During the 2007 Touareg Rebellion in Niger, dude was forced into exile out of his country, guitars were banned as instruments of dissent and two of his musicians were executed.
He’s since played Bonnaroo and opened for Robert Plant.   Despite only being in his 30’s, Bombino is already celebrated as a modern guitar legend.  Movies have been made about his story Fans of Page, Hendrix, Jerry Garcia will find gold here.  It’s glorious.


A Matter of Lifestyle Niamey Streets Niger Photo Hugh Ardoin

The street is the universal school of life

There are as many roads as minds can build

The yellow bricks are embedded in your dreams

Your dreams flow like tears when the evening comes and no gain

Tomorrow, you will start anew as the morning will wipe away your sorrow

Up above in the sky, the sun is just a huge clock

Its minutes are the burning embers of your flaming hopes

Tomorrow morning you will light up the sun with your last match

Tomorrow may never come…

Hugh Ardoin Africa by any Means Necessary Gallery

Where The Children Grow Niger The Red Planet Photo Hugh Ardoin

Once upon a time there was a dreamland, or should we call it a wonderland

It was ages ago, in a place floating up in the clouds, or was it along the Rivers of Babylon I cannot remember exactly, I am so old now

In this land of plenty, everything used to grow on the trees

Tired of the ennui of such an overwhelming perfection, jaded by the foreboding perspective of eternity

A woman, the only woman in this only place, the whispers of the snake stroke her fancy, seduced by the angel of the bizarre and the new, she took and ate the forbidden fruit from the tree

Before the pleasures of sin had time to inflame her awakening senses, the Landlord erupted in a fury, hurling thunderbolts and precipitating down on Earth, the culprits, angels and animals that happened to be on the scene, where they called it Hell

And there, they lived happily forever after

Hugh Ardoin Niger The Red Planet Gallery