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
2010

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

Prix Pictet Shortlist: Earth Passage de Retz
Paris, France
2009

Extractive Industries Week
World Bank Headquarters
Washington DC
2009

FotoWeek DC
Washington DC
November 2009

Leica Gallery
New York, NY
April 2009

RayKo Gallery
San Francisco, CA
2008

Noorderlict Galley
Groningen, Netherlands
March-April 2009

Moving Walls 14
Open Society Institute
New York, NY
2008

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

AFRICAN OIL, DEVELOPMENT & HUMAN RIGHTS

African Oil Politics
www.africanoilpolitics.blogspot.com
Forward-looking views on African oil politics and related energy security issues.

Amazon Watch
www.amazonwatch.org
Amazon Watch is a non-profit organization founded in 1996 to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. They partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems.

Bank Information Center
www.bicusa.org
The Bank Information Center partners with civil society in developing and transition countries to influence the World Bank and other international financial institutions to promote social and economic justice and ecological sustainability.

Center for Constitutional Rights
www.ccrjustice.org
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Earth Rights International
www.earthrights.org
EarthRights International (ERI) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization that combines the power of law and the power of people in defense of human rights and the environment, which they define as “earth rights.” ERI specialize in fact-finding, legal actions against perpetrators of earth rights abuses, training grassroots and community leaders, and advocacy campaigns. Through these strategies, EarthRights International seeks to end earth rights abuses, to provide real solutions for real people, and to promote and protect human rights and the environment in the communities where they work.

Friends of the Earth
www.foe.org
Friends of the Earth, as an outspoken leader in the environmental and progressive communities, seeks to change the perception of the public, media and policy makers—and effect policy change—with hard-hitting, well-reasoned policy analysis and advocacy campaigns that describe what needs to be done, rather than what is seen as politically feasible or politically correct. Friends of the Earth U.S. is a part of Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental federation.

Global Exchange
www.globalexchange.org
Global Exchange is an international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world.

Global Witness
www.globalwitness.org
For 17 years, Global Witness has run pioneering campaigns against natural resource-related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses. From Cambodia to Congo, Sierra Leone to Angola, they have exposed the brutality and injustice that results from the fight to access and control natural resource wealth, and have sought to bring the perpetrators of this corruption and conflict to book.

Gulf Restoration Network
www.healthygulf.org
The Gulf Restoration Network is committed to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the natural resources of the Gulf Region.

Human Rights Watch
www.hrw.org
Human Rights Watch is dedicated to protecting the human rights of people around the world. They stand with victims and activists to prevent discrimination, to uphold political freedom, to protect people from inhumane conduct in wartime, and to bring offenders to justice. They investigate and expose human rights violations and hold abusers accountable. HRW challenges governments and those who hold power to end abusive practices and respect international human rights law. They enlist the public and the international community to support the cause of human rights for all.

International Crisis Group
www.crisisgroup.org
The International Crisis Group is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict.

Louisiana Bucket Brigade
www.labucketbrigade.org
The Louisiana Bucket Brigade is a 501(c)(3) environmental health and justice organization working with communities that neighbor the state’s oil refineries and chemical plants. The mission of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade is to support communities’ use of grassroots action to create informed, sustainable neighborhoods free from industrial pollution.

Oxfam International
www.oxfam.org
Oxfam is an international confederation of 15 organizations working together in 98 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice. They work directly with communities and seek to influence the powerful to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

Rainforest Action Network
www.ran.org
Rainforest Action Network campaigns for the forests, their inhabitants and the natural systems that sustain life by transforming the global marketplace through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action.

NIGER DELTA LINKS

Bebor Model Nursey & Primary School
www.bebor.org
Since its inception in October 2000, the primary mission of the International Friends Committee of Bebor Model Nursery and Primary School has been to raise funds through individual contributions to enable the school to build new buildings and provide adequate classroom space for its pupils. Bebor Model Nursery and Primary School is located in Bodo City in Gokana Kingdom in the Ogoni region of southeastern Nigeria. The Ogoni are a small minority tribe numbering approximately 500,000 out of a total Nigerian population of more than 120 million.

Earthrights Institute
www.earthrights.net
Earth Rights Institute is dedicated to securing a culture of peace and justice by establishing dynamic worldwide networks of persons of goodwill and special skill, promoting policies and programs that further democratic rights to common heritage resources, and building ecological communities.

Environmental Rights Action
www.eraction.org
The organization is dedicated to the defense of human ecosystem in terms of human rights and to the promotion of environmentally responsible governmental, commercial, community and individual practice in Nigeria through the empowerment of local people.

Niger Delta Economies of Violence Project
www.oldweb.geog.berkeley.edu
The oil-producing communities across the region have been drawn into political struggles and conflicts over “resource control”, “self-determination”, and the deployment of the vast oil wealth from which they have benefited little. It is no exaggeration to say that the violence and instabilities within the Niger Delta strike to the very heart of Nigeria’s political future. The central question addressed by this project is why are oil-producing communities in the Niger Delta the site of intense conflict and what can be done to improve the lot of such communities?

Stakeholder Democracy
www.stakeholderdemocracy.org
Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) works to empower those that have been worst affected by the activities of extractive industries, to help them to get a better deal. SDN is piloting its approach in the Niger Delta working with local communities and civil society groups.

Stepping Stones Nigeria
www.steppingstonesnigeria.org
Stepping Stones Nigeria (SSN) is a UK-based charity with a passion for defending and upholding the rights of children in the Niger Delta region. Their work with Nigerian partner organizations saves and transforms the lives of vulnerable and stigmatized children; provides outstanding levels of education and significantly raises literacy levels of less privileged children. Through advocacy and campaigning, SSN promotes a greater understanding of child rights and aim to prevent the abuse of children today.

Urhobo Historical Society
www.waado.org
A website produced by the Urhobo Historical Society that offers historical almanacs, short stories, poems, papers, and other information that serves the Urhobo history and culture.

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