Powerful Media for Pressing Issues

Curse of the Black Gold

50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta

50 years ago oil was discovered in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. Today, Nigeria pumps 2.1 million barrels a day, making it the sixth largest oil-producing country in the world and a major oil partner of the United States. Although its oil industry generates billions in revenues every year, the average Niger Deltan struggles to survive on less than $1 per day.

These startling facts are powerfully portrayed in Curse of the Black Gold, a short-form multimedia film comprised of graphic photographs by world-renowned photojournalist Ed Kashi and produced by award-winning filmmaker Julie Winokur. With creative precision, Winokur weaves Kashi’s memorable photographs of villagers, local leaders, armed militants, and oil workers together with the impassioned voices of Nigerian poets, environmentalists, and human rights activists. Curse of the Black Gold exposes the enormous costs and devastating impact of oil exploitation and reveals how the convergence of government corruption, irresponsible practices of Big Oil, and abject poverty has created a militant movement for redress.

Photos in the video were culled from Kashi’s award-winning book, Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta. Edited by University of California, Berkeley Professor, Michael Watts, the book also features text by Nigerian journalists and human rights activists.

Running Time: 8 Minutes
Release Date: 2008

Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta takes a graphic look at the profound cost of oil exploitation in West Africa. Featuring images by world-renowned photojournalist Ed Kashi and text by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, prominent Nigerian journalists, human rights activists, and University of California at Berkeley professor Michael Watts, this book traces the 50-year history of Nigeria’s oil interests and the resulting environmental degradation and community conflicts that have plagued the region.

Now one of the major suppliers of U.S. oil, Nigeria is the sixth largest producer of oil in the world. Set against a backdrop of what has been called the scramble for African oil, Curse of the Black Gold is the first book to document the consequences of a half-century of oil exploration and production in one of the world’s foremost centers of biodiversity. This book exposes the reality of oil’s impact and the absence of sustainable development in its wake, providing a compelling pictorial history of one of the world’s great deltaic areas. Accompanied by powerful writing by some of the most prominent public intellectuals and critics in contemporary Nigeria, Kashi’s photographs capture local leaders, armed militants, oil workers, and nameless villagers, all of whose fates are inextricably linked. His exclusive coverage bears witness to the ongoing struggles of local communities, illustrating the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty.

The publication of Curse of the Black Gold occurs at a moment of worldwide concern over dependency on petroleum, dubbed by New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman as “the resource curse.” Much has been written about the drama of the search for oil—Daniel Yergin’s The Prize and Ryszard Kapuściński’s Shah of Shahs are two of the most widely lauded—but there has been no serious examination of the relations between oil, environment, and community in a particular oil-producing region. Curse of the Black Gold is a landmark work of historic significance.

To learn more, visit www.curseoftheblackgoldbook.com

Photo Exhibitions

Host Gallery
London, England

Jersey Amnesty International Human Rights Festival
St. Helier, Jersey
November 2010

Prix Pictet Shortlist: Earth Passage de Retz
Paris, France

Extractive Industries Week
World Bank Headquarters
Washington DC

FotoWeek DC
Washington DC
November 2009

Leica Gallery
New York, NY
April 2009

RayKo Gallery
San Francisco, CA

Noorderlict Galley
Groningen, Netherlands
March-April 2009

Moving Walls 14
Open Society Institute
New York, NY

powerHouse Arena
Brooklyn, New York
August 2008

George Eastman House
Rochester, NY
June 2008

Multi-media Awards

Africa World Documentary Film Festival
Screenings in St. Louis, Virginia, & Barbados
March-February 2010

Artivist Film Festival
Screenings in London, Hollywood, and New York City
November 2009 - March 2010

Maine African Film Festival
Portland, Maine
April 2009

New York Photo Festival
1st Place Multimedia
New York, NY
May 2008

Visa Pour L’Image Photo Festival
Solo Projection
Perpignan, France
August 2007

Photography Awards

American Photo
Photojournalism “Images of the Year 2009”
Jan/Feb 2010

Prix Pictet Commission

FotoWeek DC
1st place - Photojournalisms Series

International Photography Awards (IPA)
1st place - Editorial/Environmental Category

Photo District News (PDN)
Photography Annual

Communication Arts
Photography Annual


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Curse of the Black Gold


Curse of the Black Gold


Curse of the Black Gold

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