Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ever More Ways to Help

Scott Peg, Director of International Studies at IUPUI’s Department of Political Science, alerted us to these three organizations whose mission is to help the people of the Niger Delta region in various ways.

He writes:
“The project that I have been working on for almost 8 years now with schools in Bodo and Bane in the Ogoni part of Rivers State can be found at … It obviously won't solve all the problems in the Delta, but I didn't want to be one of those academics who flies in for a quick visit, gets Patrick or Patterson or Von to show them around for 4 days and then writes an article and never puts anything back into the area. We are now almost finished with classroom buildings in both villages and moving rapidly into a water and sanitation phase to provide latrines and boreholes at each school.

A similar great project run by a British couple in Akwa Ibom State which also does a lot of work campaigning against child witchcraft there can be found at

One other link is Patrick Naagbanton's NGO, the Center for Environment, Human Rights and Development. They are amongst the distinct minority of NGOs that do not accept funding from the oil companies or the Nigerian government. Their website is”

Please take a look at these links and get involved!


powerHouse Exhibition

August 15 - September 2 Curse of the Black Gold will be exhibited at the powerHouse Arena! Opening is on August 28, 6-9pm. Keep an eye out for updates on this event.


Communication Arts

Five of Ed Kashi’s photographs from the Niger Delta slaughter made their way into Communication Arts’ Photography Annual 49 this August. To see his images, take a look at pages 148-149.


NPPA Members Alert:

In July’s News Photographer Magazine, Stephen Wolgast reviews Curse of the Black Gold. For those of you who receive News Photographer, be sure to take a look at pages 30-33, or you can see the spreads in the press clippings area of the gallery section of the Curse of the Black Gold website.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

I am consistently amazed at how childish grown men can behave in the pursuit of their goals. This issue of honor and respect seems to cut to the heart of why so many conflicts continue unabated in the world today. Read this short article from the Times of Nigeria and notice it feeds off a previous post.

Here is Link


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Disturbing Article: Paying Off Militants

The following article illustrates how warped things have become in the Niger Delta: a major nationalized oil company has openly admitted to paying off militants so they can make repairs on their oil facilities.

NNPC Paid Militants $6 Million, Says GMD

This Day (Lagos) NEWS
23 July 2008
By Stanley Nkwazema Abuja

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said yesterday that it paid Niger Delta militants $6 million in order to allow it repair the Chanomi Crude oil pipeline in Delta State.

The Corporation also said that a total of $77.031 billion or N3.930 trillion was generated between January 2003 and March 2008. Out of the amount, it said, the Corporation remitted the sum of $56,222 billion or N3.930 trillion to the federation account.

The House of Representatives Committee investigating the non remittance of revenues into the Federation Account also revealed yesterday that 60 percent of the work so far done has confirmed that Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the Federal Government generated over N3.56 trillion naira between January 2003 but paid only N1.36 trillion into the Federation account within the same period.

The Chairman of the Committee Honourable John Ewah Enoh who spoke yesterday at the resumed hearing of the committee said the money could have boosted the budget of the federation if there were enabling laws to curtail the MDAs from spending their excess funds.

The Acting Group Managing Director of the organisation, Engineer Lawal Abubakar Yar'Adua confirmed to the House Committee on Finance that the NNPC paid $6 million ransome militants which gave them the lee way to repair the Chanomi Crude Oil Pipeline in Delta state.

"The price we are also paying in the Niger Delta is higher in terms of insurance as they demand higher because of the risks involved. It is very difficult to get expatriates to work in that area".

"For instance, we paid the militants who are also there. In the Chanomi Creek we negotiated with them and they said we should pay $100 million. But we negotiated with them and came down to $6 million because we were losing $81 million due to the problem of ruptured pipelines in the Chanomi Creek which supplied Crude to the North", he said.

On refinery allocation, Yar'Adua also said that though there is "no such thing as refinery allocation since 2003, the NNPC buys its crude at the same international market like others

He said the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) its oil exploratory arm "went out of production for eight months due to the activities of the militants in the Niger Delta, but it is back and producing 686,000 bpd. We are talking to the militants. The NPDC is the real source of revenue to the NNPC. They are bringing revenue to the country."

On the refusal of the Federal government to subsidise the price of diesel as it had done in Petrol and kerosene, Yar'Adua put the blame on the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He said "NNPC is the one handling the subsidy. We were not given any subsidy as we have in PMS. NNPC is still selling diesel at N61.50 which is a heavy loss. We are losing money and we can not raise prices because we are government owned.

Very soon, if care is not taken NNPC may collapse, because we are selling at a loss", he said.

The document he presented to the House shows that in 2003, 267,330,574 barrels were produced worth $7,758,503,500.30. In 2004, a total of 301,046,631 barrels worth $11,506,679,964.27 were produced. In 2005. a total of 295,472,471 barrels worth $16,302,777,292.03 were produced, while in 2006, a total of 229,890,166 worth $14,983,197,473.01, were produced. He said in 2007, a total of 202,461,413 barrels worth $15,232,995,318.38 while between January 1 to March 2008 the NNPC produced 47,853,785 worth $4,754,684,156.78.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ed Kashi & Wole Soyinka Discuss the Niger Delta on Al Jazeera

Yesterday Ed appeared on the Riz Khan show on Al Jazeera's English language station. Also on the show was Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian nobel laureate. The topic was oil, the Niger Delta and the political situation in that troubled region.

Click here to watch Part One on YouTube
Click here to watch Part Two on YouTube


NPR News & Notes

July 22, 2008 interview with Ed Kashi and Omoyele Sowore

"This situation is unsustainable. What's going on in the Niger Delta, the perverse relationship between the West, and now increasingly China and India as they need more resources, that this situation, this dynamic is unsustainable. We've got to wake up. We've got to pay attention. Because frankly, oil has a negative impact on the people and on the environment."
-Ed Kashi, excerpt from the interview.

Click here to listen to this 9 minute interview


Monday, July 21, 2008

MEND Offers To Help Free German Hostages

The Times of Nigeria, Sun Jul, 20 2008

Nigeria’s main rebel group, Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) today said it will assist Nigerian authorities locate and the release two German construction workers help hostage by militants in the oil producing region last week.

In a statement signed by the group’s spokesman, Jomo Gbomo, MEND said:

“Will intervene towards the release of the two German construction staff of Julius Berger who were ambushed and kidnapped for ransome in Rivers state of Nigeria on Friday July 11, 2008 because from all indications, the inept Nigerian security forces have been unable to make any progress towards their freedom.

“We consider such criminal acts as a duty for the law enforcement agencies as practiced in every part of the world and as a rule, never get involved. However, this case will be an exception to the rule because the men are involved in construction of infrastructure in the Niger Delta region.

“MEND has located and identified the culprits and will begin negotiating with the kidnappers in the hope for a safe and unconditional release of the captives.” The statement said.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Land of Many Colors - American Photo

July 17, 2008 by Jack Crager

Africa has always been a continent of such wild extremes — cultural and geographic, political and demographic — that it defies categorization, lives in its own realm, yet continues to impact the entire planet. These days the land is much in the news as turmoil in the Niger Delta exacerbates the global oil crisis; the U.S. prepares to nominate its first African-American major-party contender; and the world debates war-crimes charges against a sitting president, among other things. All of which serves as a backdrop to an ambitious series of photo exhibitions called Africas, at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, from now to September.

Click here to read the rest of the article.


On BBB: Nigerian activists reject UK plan

Here is an interesting article and Von Kemedi, one of the Nigerian authors in Curse of the Black Gold, is quoted as well.
BBC Story


Thursday, July 17, 2008

FACTBOX-Why unrest in Nigeria's oil heartland matters

July 16 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua in London on Wednesday and is expected to discuss ways to help Nigeria tackle lawlessness in its oil-producing Niger Delta.

Below are answers to some questions about the Niger Delta and why it matters to the wider world.

Click here to read the rest of the article.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ed Kashi on CNN Friday the 11th

Take a look at this video of Ed Kashi on CNN from Friday, 11th of July 2008.


Poison Fire - Grassroots Activism

"Poison Fire follows 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."

This video shows the ineffectiveness of working with a corrupt government and with irresponsible gas companies who will do anything to avoid cleaning up after themselves.

Please watch this 30 minute movie.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ed Kashi and the Importance of Advocacy Journalism

Check out this great article on

Ed Kashi and the Importance of Advocacy Journalism
A crusading photographer takes on the dirtiest subject of his career: oil.

By David Schonauer
July 14, 2008

"Photojournalist Ed Kashi says, "At the tender age of 50 I became what I always wanted to be." Kashi describes his trade as "advocacy journalism." His goal, he says, is to tell visual stories that not only inform viewers but also inspire them to find "activist solutions to social problems." Kashi, a longtime contributor to National Geographic magazine, has earned a reputation as a dogged journalist, covering the plight of the Kurdish people of Iraq and working in troubled areas such as Northern Ireland and the West Bank. But his career breakthrough occurred in 2003, with a project called Aging In America: The Years Ahead. The tender look at the issues of aging was at the forefront of a new approach to photojournalism -- an approach that combined still photography, video documentary, an award-winning book, and a resource-laden website to reach as wide an audience as possible.

Kashi's latest project, about the oil industry of the Niger Delta region of Africa, takes his notion of advocacy journalism to a new level of sophistication"

Click here to see the rest of the article.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Relevant Reuters Article

Nigeria's top building firm pulls out of Niger Delta

By Nick Tattersall

LAGOS (Reuters) - Nigeria's biggest construction firm, Julius Berger JUBR.LG, is pulling out of the oil-producing Niger Delta because of the deteriorating security situation there, a senior company executive said on Saturday.

Gunmen kidnapped two Germans working for the firm, the Nigerian unit of German builder Bilfinger Berger (GBFG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research), on Friday, blowing their armoured vehicle off the road with dynamite and killing a soldier in their convoy.

To read the rest of this article, click here.


Africa: The Next Victim in Our Quest for Cheap Oil

Alternet now has an article up about Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years in the Niger Delta which includes an interview with Michael Watts.

"The new book Curse of the Black Gold shows how Nigeria may be the epicenter of the full-blown resource wars to come.

Whether or not we have fully arrived at peak oil can be left to the nitpickers and bean counters to decide. What we know for sure is that the cost of black gold has exponentially risen in just a few short years, and the global economy it is built upon is currently straddling a razor waiting for the inevitable slice. That final cut may come from Nigeria, where all the major oil companies have done business, dirty and otherwise, for the last five decades, degrading the environment and depressing the general population along the way."

Read the rest of the article and an interview with Michael Watts here.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

What is Gordon Brown Thinking?

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown this past week made a very disturbing move in regards to Nigeria, showing blind support for the oil companies and the Nigerian Government. Read these articles to learn more. Sad how politics continually trumps good judgment.

The London Independent


Friday, July 11, 2008 - Excellent Norwegian Article

National Geographic photographer Ed Kashi has photographed the oil recovery spin-offs. The result is displayed in the exhibition The Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta at the George Eastman House in Rochester New York.

Read this article in Norwegian

Read the google-translated article in English


Struggle News Worldwide: Nigeria

The Nation’s correspondent in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Isaac Ombe, moved round the communities that produced the first oil wells in the country and examined the infrastructural development in the area and how the residents fare as a result of neglect over the years.

Read the rest here...


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Another Idea to Consider

Check out this link that offers another possible solution for the Niger Delta and other oil producing areas for creating a more efficient use of their natural gas. Life Cycle Analysis


Monday, July 7, 2008

Nigeria: A Poem

After listening to NPR's Weekend Edition, "Documenting the Paradox of Oil, Poverty in Nigeria," one young woman felt inspired to write a poem, and email it to Ed Kashi.

Jennifer Takacs is a senior English major at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania where she is involved in such activities as Students for Social Justice, Human Rights Organization, and Habitat for Humanity. She also writes for the underground, independent, student run paper known as "Thought-Crime." Much of her work explores the social and political issues of today, and can be found at this website.

To see the poem,

“Hurry little children run this way, I have got a beast at bay!”

Run from the hills
With skirts billowing and blowing
In a cotton frenzy

Gather all the baskets
Of multi-coloured monies

Pour the suds

Scour the faces of Hamilton, Grant, Franklin
Watch as they disintegrate into a broken and beaten George
Too bad there are no cherry trees here

So watch as the children
Wash their money in oil

Because they have never known water

Slick and black
And full of velvety shine

Mixed and mashed in baby’s formula
The adobe hut is in need of repair

“So you made $600 billion of oil wealth in the past half-century
But for the people in the region, oil has brought dire poverty and a lack of development and fostered government corruption.”

Foster homes full of gypsies
With harpy wings
Sucking gin from the tits of a volcano


Baking tapioca in the flames
Waiting desperately for acid rain
Or an acrid reign

And whichever wish is granted first

Won’t matter

“The average person lives on less than a dollar a day, even though Nigeria takes in $2.2 million a day in oil revenue. And the poor have seen little or no benefit from the spiraling price of crude.”

"If we spend more money here in America or Europe on oil, it has no impact on the people in the Niger Delta, no positive impact," Kashi says. "What it does is just further enriches the power structure, from the government people to the chieftain and tribal leaders who all benefit from the rise of the oil prices."
“Because the United States imports a sizable amount of oil from Nigeria,” he says, “all Americans are consumers of Nigerian energy.”
So fill up your H-Twos, your Subarus, and your SUVs,
Everyone is stuck with the I.V.
Of the gas pump to the gas tank
From the hand that feeds
To the oil that bleeds
Into every American home
The state won’t leave it alone
And every dollar spent
Is another broken neck
And every emitted fume
Destroys another afternoon
But if I built a rocket
Would I go flying away?
From the bright and bold U. S. of A?
Fly up!
"It's important that we understand that connection," Kashi says.
Drink up!
"I feel the days are gone in this world when we can just blithely ignore these kinds of connections because what I see from traveling around the world … is that it's unsustainable.”
Bleed up!
“What's happening in the world today is unsustainable."
We own the sky.

*note: quotes taken from "Documenting The Paradox Of Oil, Poverty In Nigeria"-*

Thanks to
Jennifer for sharing her response with us.


The Naked Option: a last resort

""The Naked Option: a last resort," a feature length documentary film now in production, reveals how local women in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta use “stripping naked”, a serious cultural taboo, to fight environmental and cultural ruin by the world’s most powerful corporate giants.
Fed up with the loss of their livelihoods, their inability to feed their families and the violence that rips through this militarized zone, Niger Delta women are organizing across ethnic boundaries and taking over where men have failed.
At the risk of being raped, beaten or murdered….the women are prepared and armed….but not with anything you can see."

Candace Schermerhorn Productions.

Click here to see the preview for this incredible documentary film.


Have You Had Your Kashi Today?

Thanks to Virginia Swanson for her great blog post, which brought Melissa Lyttle's attention to Ed's Curse of the Black Gold piece and the recent NPR Weekend Edition interview.

APhotoADay asks: Have You Had Your Kashi Today?


Virginia Swanson's Blog

Ms. Swanson, author of The Business of Photography: Principles and Practices, keeps a blog in order "to offer marketing advice to photographers and help them understand essential elements of a career as an visual artist."

She has posted a relevant piece about Ed's recent interview on NPR's Weekend Edition, and has included many useful links.

Click here to see this blog post


Ed Kashi - Portrayed through the lens of the media

The tables have been turned as Ed finds himself and his experiences the subject of an article in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

“Photojournalist Ed Kashi committed to telling Niger Delta's story - Photojournalist risks his life to capture story of Niger Delta with his camera"
Stuart Low, Democrat and Chronicle, July 7th, 2008

A very dramatic portrait of Ed Kashi and his experiences in the Niger Delta.

Click here to read the article.


NPR Weekend Edition Sunday Interview with Ed Kashi

July 6 – Ed Kashi interview on NPR Weekend Edition Sunday with Liane Hansen.

Click here to listen to this 5 minute interview.

Click here to see the article and excerpts from 'Curse of the Black Gold'

After all, our governments are the stewards of our land, and our resources, and of their people, and, as one Environmentalist in Nigeria actually pointed out, because the politicians are not beholden to being voted into power, and they get their money from the residual monies that come in from the oil industry, there’s a way that they can bypass the people, and they don’t really have to serve them.
-Ed Kashi, excerpts from the interview


George Eastman House Exhibit Highlighted by Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Exhibit at George Eastman House shows Africa's nature, old and new

“It makes no pretense of painting a complete regional portrait. But Kashi's keen sense of outrage may spur you to dig deeper on your own time."
Stuart Low, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, July 6th, 2008

Click here to read the article


Life from the Left Coast Interview

June 29 – Ed Kashi interview on Life from the Left Coast KPFK Los Angeles with Ian Masters

Click here to listen to this 25 minute interview.

We’ve devoted so much attention and lost lives and spent tremendous amount of money being in the Middle East and Iraq in particular, theoretically to protect oil, while we get a lot more oil from Africa, particularly Nigeria than we do from the Saudis or Iraq. And yet we, as Americans, know very little about this. For me that’s one of the main reasons of doing this book and working on this project, is to wake people up here.
- Ed Kashi, excerpts from the interview

Click here to go to the Life from the Left Coast site.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

EarthBeat Radio Interviews Michael Watts

Michael Watts interviewed on EarthBeat Radio, which aired July 1st, 2008.

Click here to listen to this 30 minute interview!

Some people have referred to oil and gas being a curse…you have to be careful about assuming that there’s something about oil that produces that. It seems to me that it’s the intersection of Big Oil with Big Government, with Big Global Market, that contribute to this high degree of economic and political failure.

-Michael Watts, excerpts from the interview

To hear the entire EarthBeat program, click here.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

George Eastman House Exhibition

The George Eastman House Exhibition, featuring 37 photographs selected from the Curse of the Black Gold book, will be up until September 1st.

Be sure to go see it!

For more information about the Exhibition, go to: GEORGE EASTMAN HOUSE