Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Monday, 22 October 2012

New York Film Maker Documents Oil Rich Niger Delta Intrigues

Andrew Berends, a New York Filmmaker,  has released a preview of the intrigues going on in the Nigeria Niger Delta domain.

The film in view, Delta Boys chronicles the plight of the people of the Niger Delta in Nigeria. It showcased some of the intrigues of what goes on in the oil region.

Niger Deltans are people from the Eastern part of Nigeria. The region is blessed with oil rich lands where Nigeria makes lots of money to sustain its economy. However, despite the wealth generated by this oil extraction, it was reported that majority of those who live in this region live on less than a dollar a day with lack of portable water,  sewage systems, schools, hospitals,  adequate roads, public health and sanitation services.

Speaking on the soon to be released film, Berends said “It’s such an important story. It’s about where our (America) oil comes from. It’s about the environment. It’s not just a local story in Nigeria. To me, it has global importance. The conflict there is largely driven by the fact that the world, and the West in particular, is so dependent on oil, and we have this desire for oil to flow as cheaply as possible. And it’s not just for gasoline for our cars, but everything we consume, we’re so dependent on oil. But the result of this dependency, while at the same time we’re not wanting to pay any more than we absolutely have to, is that people suffer in places like the Niger Delta. It’s a direct result of our addiction to this resource that they happen to have.”

He continues, “Corruption is rife in the federal government, the local government, among the militants, it’s a big problem. The only place where I don’t observe some degree of corruption is in the villages. Not to say that everything’s perfect there, but it’s the only place where you feel you’re a little more grounded in decent humanity.”

Berends says the harsh reality is that there is plenty of money flowing to the local governments in the Delta, but it isn’t being appropriated for much-needed infrastructural development, education and job creation. Instead, it is enriching a few opportunists and thuggish mafia dons while the villagers struggle to survive.

The documentary includes many interviews with villagers who rely on the fish, forests and fruit trees for subsistence.

Berends faced a lot of obstacle filming this documentary as he was captured and detained for about 10 days.

Financial support was sourced from the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Cinereach and The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund

The film, Delta Boys is now available for digital download release at Sundance and iTunes, and on DVD at Subsequent release will be made on Netflix, Hulu  and other digital platform by 2013.

Will the documentary make a difference/ Berends says “I don’t know. But if it helps make people a bit more aware about our oil addiction, and about how people treat each other, hopefully, we will be more thoughtful about our energy use.”

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