The Place Where You Live: Niger Delta
By Kenneth Chiedu Uso
As the sun begins to rise in Camp 6, we begin to think about living through another day in the community after several oil spills from the nearby pipeline that passed through the community. Life has become harder by the day.
Getting new lands to farm is now a necessity, as the old and ancestral farmlands can no longer be farmed because of the spills.
Our farmlands, forests, and streams have all been destroyed through so many oil spillages and several years of total neglect from the company and government.
The village Chief calls for a meeting with the locals to discuss on how best to get new farmlands and water for domestic use, since the nearby stream is no longer drinkable.
Mama Rose knows within that her life will become more difficult, especially now that all her crops have been destroyed. With a very sick husband to look after who feels ill after so many years of breathing oil-polluted air, she has nothing to fall back on.
Little Rose is just 8 years old. She has to look for firewood and fetch water to support Mama. Most times she and her friends trek about five kilometers to the nearby Estate, where the expatriate workers live, to fetch water with jerry cans on their heads. After the girls have promised to “play” with the gate man of the Estate, he lets them fetch water.
The village Chief sends a letter to the Oil Company responsible for the spills to come and repair the leak, but he knows they will not respond until there is even more damage done to the community. He knows the Directors of the Multinationals have said and boasted several times that they are closer to the Government than the people are.
Efe, the son of the village Chief, has made up his mind to move to Abuja to hustle for contracts. He knows life in the community is getting harder by the day. Some years ago he didn’t need to go very far to catch fish to sell to the people. His canoe cannot dare the Atlantic Ocean. As he tries to repair the shack that is his home with plastic sheets, he ponders why the oil that was discovered in his community is a curse to them and a blessing to the people in Abuja and foreign countries.
As the sun sets and night falls, the only lights you see in the community are the stars above the sky and the distant flame that glows from the gas being flared to prepare another shipments for a foreign land. There is no electricity in the community — unlike the Estate, which has steady electricity and running water all year round.