Africa’s mineral wealth and abundant natural resources are no secret. What we also know of much of these commodities is that, in many African countries, the profits yielded from the industries established with the purpose of securing the wealth and inheritance of the citizens of these nations, more often than not, end up in the hands of greedy politicians, easily bribed leaders, and in the pockets of the mostly foreign multinational CEOs and the companies they work for.
For decades, this has been the narrative of a dire situation that only seems to be worsening, and having equally devastating effects in both the lives of those who live in these areas, and the environment surrounding them.
Nigerian photographer, George Osodi, who comes from Nigeria’s oil rich southeastern Niger Delta region, has seen firsthand just how disastrous and traumatic the exploitation of these communities and the natural resources in these regions they occupy can be. These images show two specific areas where these distressing conditions have become the norm - in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region, and in an illegal gold mine in Ghana.
Photos by George Osodi
To see more photos and videos from photojournalist Glenna Gordon’s work in Nigeria, Liberia and across Africa, follow @glennagordon on Instagram.
"I love the informality of Instagram," says photojournalist Glenna Gordon (@glennagordon), who shares photos while on assignment across Africa. “It started as a scrapbook for me, and in some sense it still is: it’s a record of where I’ve been and what I’m working on.”
Glenna recently wrapped up an assignment in Nigeria and began a new one in Ghana. Senegal and Liberia are next.
"I never planned to be a photographer," Glenna explains. "I always wanted to be a writer." When journalism school proved uninspiring, however, Glenna visited her brother who was working in Rwanda. Working in such a different context "was the opposite of journalism school and I loved everything about it immediately." Soon after, Glenna moved to Uganda and began writing. Over time, she says, "I felt myself more and more pulled towards photography," which she now does almost exclusively.
Glenna seeks to present a more nuanced view of Africa. “I hope people see contrasts among places, and the moments in between. I hope they see individuals rather than groups, and individuals within groups, to make it harder to generalize and say, ‘Africa is this,’ or ‘Africa is that.’”
Alexis Okeowo writes about how religious and ethnic violence in the Middle Belt has spawned an informal arms industry: http://nyr.kr/18Q14aV
Photographer Ruth McDowall has been documenting the rise of the arms industry and the daily conflict in Nigeria’s Middle Belt. A look at her photos: http://nyr.kr/18Q0TfW
Above: Ohazuma Chima Anthony, thirty-two, recovers at Gwagwalada hospital after the 2011 Christmas Day bombing of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, in Abuja, Nigeria. Photograph by Ruth McDowall.
Swirling costumes — People in costumes parade in the street during the annual Badagry festival in Lagos, Nigeria, Tuesday, Aug . 20, 2012. This year festival is in honor of Marcus Garvey, a proponent of “Back to Africa” movement in the United States. which organizers say its aimed at bridging the gap between Africans in diaspora and Africa officials said. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
“More than 400 children in Zamfara State have died from lead poisoning according to official estimates. Unless the promised funds are released immediately, cleanup of the contaminated areas won’t be able to start until after next year’s rainy season, leaving thousands more children at risk of death and permanent disability.”
Photo: Children work at the gold processing site in Bagega. Nigeria 2012 © Olga Overbeek
Three years after the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) responded to an unprecedented outbreak of lead poisoning in Nigeria’s Zamfara state, MSF is finally able to treat children in the badly affected village of Bagega now that a long-delayed program to remediate lead contamination is underway.
Samuel James, Water of My Land: The Niger Delta’s Illicit Fuel Trade
Fires from hundreds of illicit fuel refineries burn every night throughout the Niger Delta. Concealed deep within mangrove swamps and raffia forests, men, women and children work by flashlight, manually tossing stolen crude oil into burning pits to keep the refining process going. Flames explode momentarily then recede into darkness.
Photographer Samuel James will be showing this body of work at the Half King. There will be an opening on Tuesday the 19th of February at 7:30PM. Sam will be joined by Stacey D. Clarkson of Harper’s Magazine to discuss the work.