“Whatever cry we cry is not heard outside of here.”

In the Gulf, a reporter jumps into oil-covered waters, in Washington a woman interrupts a hearing to pour oil over herself, and a BP executive is summoned to the White House. In the Niger Delta, half a world away there is only silence. Where children splashed and fishermen sang as they cast for shrimp and crabs there is now the kind of quiet you find in mortuaries, not estuaries.

Estimates say that up to 2.5 million gallons of oil could be spilling into the Gulf of Mexico each day. The Niger Delta has borne the brunt of some 546 million gallons over the past 50 years.

Let me type that again for you: five hundred and forty six million gallons of oil have been spilled in the Niger delta over the past five decades.

According to a New York Times article:

“The oil spews from rusted and aging pipes, unchecked by what analysts say is ineffectual or collusive regulation, and abetted by deficient maintenance and sabotage. In the face of this black tide is an infrequent protest — soldiers guarding an Exxon Mobil site beat women who were demonstrating last month, according to witnesses — but mostly resentful resignation.”

A third of the US’s crude oil comes from Nigeria, and though the Niger Delta region contributes nearly 80 percent of its government’s revenue, its inhabitants haven’t seen any benefits. Life expectancy there is the lowest in Nigeria and in addition to a loss of livelihood as most of the marine and bird life disappear, people of this area must deal with gas flares, polluted water, and government-sanctioned oil thieves.

“President Obama is worried about that one,” Claytus Kanyie, a local official, said of the gulf spill, standing among dead mangroves in the soft oily muck outside Bodo. “Nobody is worried about this one. The aquatic life of our people is dying off. There used be shrimp. There are no longer any shrimp.”

Where is the media attention?

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Music is the Weapon of the Future II: Arrest the Music!

Fela Anikulapo-Kuti was a Nigerian musician, the creator of Afrobeat, political activist, thorn in the side of six different Nigerian administrations and it is impossible to discuss African protest music without discussing him, his music and his politics.Of his music Tejumola Olaniyan writes in his book Arrest the Music! Fela and his Rebel Art and Politics,

“To listen to Fela’s music then is to listen to a kind of cultural, specifically musical, “biography” of the postcolonial African state: an account of the state’s crisis-ridden life so far as seen by oppositional music”

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wochena vs wosachena

Came across this on the internet today and thought it was special and totally in the spirit of what we talk about here on Vuga!

Duncan McNicholl is a Canadian engineer working with engineers without borders in Malawi and an avid photographer. After returning home from Africa in 2008, he had a strong reaction to the representations of Africans that he saw in the media.

I compared these photos to my own memories of Malawian friends and felt lied to.  How had these photos failed so spectacularly to capture the intelligence, the laughter, the resilience, and the capabilities of so many incredible people? […] This is not to say that people do not struggle, far from it, but the photos I was seeing only told part of the story.  I thought that these images were robbing people of their dignity, and I felt that the rest of the story should be told as well.

And so he came up with a project he calls “Perspectives of Poverty” in which he photographs Africans both in the stereotypical way that they are represented by the Western media, and the way in which they want to be seen.

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“There was no sun, only a slow ripening of the sky”

Char was kind enough to lend me a book, Uwem Akpan’s “Say You’re One of Them”

This elegantly written, colourful yet understated book tells, through short stories, of the experiences of Africa’s children. Akpan breathes life into the words and thoughts of Jigana, a street kid in Kibera, Yewa and her brother Kotchikpa, Jubril in Northern Nigeria and half-Hutu, half-Tutsi Monique, with a combination of elegant prose and blunt, multilingual dialogue.

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Any followers of my 1 x 43 blog have probably read my blog about funk and its importance as an inescapable part of modern music. Now Africa is undeniably the birthplace of the blue note or the flattened third, fifth or seventh notes. Yet old African vintage records are often ignored by the younger generation of Africans, but revered and venerated in the west. I had to be in the United States to find my valuable $45 copy of Zambian afrorock band The Witch’s’ debut album Introduction. Secondly it took the genius of hip hop producer Madlib to actually use a song by The Witch as sample fodder, for a song in his Beat Konducta series of beat tapes. Yet we the African youth of today ignore the golden era of African funk/rock. So I will give a small history of the movement but also try to explain why in God’s name people are going to such great lengths to dig up old strange sounding music from bygone eras and far-flung places.

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Never mind the “Brain Drain”

A nice article on the BBC news website last weekend talking, not about the millions of Africans leaving the continent for opportunities in the West, but the ones returning home:

Across nine African countries and a journey of 7,000 miles from Mali to South Africa, from Ghana to Ethiopia, the story was often the same. Africans were returning from working or studying abroad either for patriotic reasons or because of the growing opportunities back home.

The article quotes a report by the International Organisation for Migration that states,

“Of the more than 1.1 million Ghanaians who left the country between 2000-2007, only 153,000 did not return either temporarily or permanently.”

People often ask me why I came back to Africa after studying in the U.S. Most of the time I tell them I couldn’t live without sunshine and mangoes, but that’s only partly the truth. The fact is that there is a wealth of opportunity for dynamic, creative, skilled and entrepreneurial young Africans in the developing markets on the continent.

Still, the IOM report makes particular mention of Ghana, which is hailed for its political and economic stability in comparison to other African countries. Young Ghanaians are more likely to want to go home than say, young Somalis.

To all my Africans in the West, trying to get theirs, come back home soon. We miss you

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