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NIGERIA

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    Oil pipelines create a walkway for this young woman through the village of Okrika Town.
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    Owned by Total of France, the Amenam Kpono oil platform emerges from the Atlantic Ocean off the Niger Delta coast.
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    A disgruntled worker tries to board the oil rig 'Auntie Julie the Martyr,' run by the Nigerian company, Conoil. There have been numerous attempts by locals to take over oil rigs as a form of protest.
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    A woman peeks out of her doorway in the remote town of Sangana. Graffiti on the corrugated metal wall reads 'Trust Nobody.'
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    With the Mobil Exxon Gas plant looming in the background, daily life for the displaced people of Finima moves at a slow pace.
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    The pollution and environmental degradation of the Niger Delta is striking, particularly in the towns and cities, where the absence of sanitation is overwhelmingly evident.
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    Odiama is a town that was attacked and destroyed by the Nigerian Military Joint Task Force as part of Operation Restore Hope in 2005. At least 17 people were killed and virtually all of the buildings and homes were burned down or destroyed. The population had been nearly 15,000, and since the attack, only 2,500 residents have returned to start rebuilding their homes, businesses and lives.
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    In the village of Odiemereyi, an oil spill from an old Total pipeline dating back to the 1968 spoils a swamp near lands belonging to the community. People must pass through the polluted waters to get to their fields and farms. Since his property was affected by the spill, Chief Sunday Ugwu, 53, must wade through the oil muck.
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    In the oil town of Afiesere, local Urhobo people bake krokpo-garri, or tapioca, in the heat of a gas flare. Since 1961, when the Shell Petroleum Development Company first opened thsi flow station, residents of the local community have worked this way. Life expectancy is short for the Urhobo people, as pollutants from the flares cause serious health problems.
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    The villagers of Kpean continue to monitor blazing fires caused by a leaking Shell oil wellhead. The local people await the company's arrival to extinguish the flames.
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    Workers subcontracted by Shell Petroleum Development Company take a break from cleaning up an oil spill from an abandoned well in Oloibiri, Niger Delta.
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    Tanker drivers wait for work in the Tanker Park of PTD (Petroleum Tanker Drivers) in Warri. Due to the crisis in the Niger Delta, the refinery in Warri has been shut down for production. Many of these drivers have been waiting for three months at this park to get oil products to deliver around Nigeria.
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    In the community of Finima, which was relocated to make room for the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas plant on Bonny Island, local laborers collect sand to sell to contractors and large construction companies.
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    Workers push heavy barrels of gas up from the waterfront into the main market of Yenagoa, capital of the oil-rich state of Bayelsa.
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    In the fishing village of Finima, which was relocated to make room for the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas plant on Bonny Island, local men cut wood from the swamps to use for drying fish.
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    Ebia Amakady, 18, sits with her sleeping two-year-old son. There are no options for work. Fifty years of oil has brought the Deltans nothing.
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    Children beg on the streets of the oil city of Port Harcourt, where poverty runs rampant. A crumbling infrastructure reflects the neglect of the government even while the riches of oil continue to flow.
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    Ogbaland is a tribal area of the Egi people and is comprised of 20 communities. Located close to each other, these villages all consider the reigning king of 25 years, King Egi, their leader. The king's reception room was built by money from Total/Elf oil company.
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    Bathing in open, tin-rimmed enclosures like this one is the only way to wash in this poor community. While oil operations yield billions of dollars of wealth nearby, the people of Ogu and other communities like it live in abject poverty with no running water, no sewage system and scant electricity.
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    A view of the Trans Amadi Slaughterhouse, the main abattoir of Port Harcourt, reveals deplorable conditions, lacking organization and hygiene.
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    Piles of horns and bones are testament to the number of animals slaughtered daily at Trans Amadi.
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    A boy carries a freshly killed goat through the smoke and haze of burning tires.
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    The carcasses of freshly killed goats are roasted by the flames of burning tires at Trans Amadi.
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    A boy selling drinks at the slaughterhouse. Nearly all of the workers here, especially the meat handlers, are Hausa and Yoruba Muslims.
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    Founded by a Nigerian man in the early 20th century, the Cherubim and Seraphim Mount Zion church in Finima is an African-Christian church that has branches throughout the Delta.
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    A woman is overcome by evil spirits. The priest and nuns attempt to calm her.
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    Deep in the Niger Delta swamps, in the Igaw village of Oporonza, armed militants with MEND make a show of arms in support of fallen comrades.
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    Militants with MEND (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta) brandish their weapons in the creeks of the Niger Delta. Here they check a former Nigerian Army floating barracks that they had destroyed in March 2006. Fourteen soldiers died in that attack, and due to acts like this by MEND, 25 percent of Nigeria's oil output has been deferred.
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    In the Oporoza Village, three of the nine MEND fighters that were killed in a military attack are laid to rest. MEND militants had just negotiated the release of a Shell worker taken hostage. While on the way back through the creeks to deliver the worker to freedom, Nigerian military boats ambushed the group and killed all nine MEND members as well as the Shell worker.
Nigeria

Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Deltatakes a graphic look at the profound cost of oil exploitation in West Africa. Presented in an original and compelling way, this work traces the fifty-year impact of Nigeria’s relationship to oil interests and the resulting environmental degradation and community conflicts that have plagued the region.

Since the first wellhead was tapped in 1958, more than $500 billion dollars of wealth has been pumped out of the fertile grounds and remote creeks of one of Africa’s largest deltas and the world’s third largest wetland. Petroleum production has caused devastating pollution to the Niger Delta because of uninterrupted gas flaring and oil spillage. These operations have destroyed the traditional livelihoods of the Niger Delta and provided one of the most compelling examples of social and economic injustice on the planet, juxtaposing the phenomenal wealth produced by the oil industry against the abject poverty and lack of development for the local people.

Curse of the Black Gold recounts the daily life of the Niger Delta’s inhabitants and the conditions in which they live. From the impoverished villages of Bayelsa state, to the pot-holed streets of Port Harcourt, to the gleaming offshore oilrigs in the Atlantic Ocean, the exhibition, book and film provide glimpses into the disparity and despair of the region. Ed Kashi’s photographs capture local leaders, armed militants, oil workers, and nameless villagers, all of whose fate is inextricably linked. His exclusive coverage bears witness to the frustrated expectations, widespread indignation and unprecedented restiveness between the local communities and oil companies on the one hand, and the State and Federal Governments on the other. The result has been a general deterioration of both political and social cohesion.

It is critical to make the connection between the consumers and the producers of energy and to educate people about how both are jointly responsible for the future of our energy resources. With each passing day the repercussions of our reliance on oil become increasingly obvious: human rights violations around the world, public health hazards, environmental devastation, war, and climate change. The planet and its citizenry have never been in greater need of the world’s energy consumers to understand the injustices and dismal environmental and human impacts of our current global energy economy. By exposing the reality of oil’s impact and the absence of sustainable development in its wake, Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta provides a compelling pictorial account of one of the world’s great deltaic areas and is a landmark work of historic significance.

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