Lisbon - Casablanca airspace
It is Sunday, the 13th of March, I leave Lisbon with Salomé on a sunny evening heading Lagos, Nigeria.
This is our first trip to the country, where we will be for seventeen days, trying to know the states of River State and Bayelsa, besides that we imagine infinite, the city of Lagos, and Port Harcourt, our research base.
Today is the day sixteen of the Russia-Ukraine war, written like this as in a football game with no rules. I imagine the turbulence of the war in the agitation of this small plane almost arriving Casablanca. There is no turbulence of war that one can feel on a plane far from it. Nothing would be worse than a war, at least nothing would be more cruel and inhumane.
In this war, in which Russia has the mission of destroying Ukraine, the given pretext is the energy sources. They say they fight for natural gas in an attempt to camouflage the intention to decimate a population.
In the Niger Delta we will find the devastation caused by oil exploration. I think about the fuel needed to get there and how necessary it will be to know how to boost this first trip.
I'm not scared, yet.
Salomé seems happy to be together and I return the affection and enthusiasm. I also find myself infinitely happy to be here with her once again tearing through the skies towards a destination where we are guaranteed to learn a lot. Raquel Da Silva
Nigeria National Museum - Lagos, Nigeria
Nigeria has been home to several indigenous pre-colonial states and kingdoms since the second millennium BC, with the Nok civilization in the 15th century BC marking the first internal unification in the country. The modern state originated with British colonialization in the 19th century, taking its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914 by Lord Lugard. The British set up administrative and legal structures while practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms in the Nigeria region. Nigeria became a formally independent federation on October 1, 1960.
Nigeria is a multinational state inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups speaking 500 distinct languages, all identifying with a wide variety of cultures. Salomé Lamas
Pantheras is a non-fiction film that starts with an interest for human rights in the Niger Delta replying to the urgency to address climate change and global geopolitical reorganization.
It aims at addressing smuggling ideologies in Nigeria and clandestine economies; neoliberal risks in neocolonialism; governmentality, oil and power in the Niger Delta (oil complex effect); economy of violence and governable spaces (spaces of chieftainship, indigeneity and nationalism).
Nevertheless, I have never been to the Delta, and this is a project to be discovered on the road. We will explore later how mutable the journey of a project, disregarding its material outcome, can be. SL
The Escravos River is a river in southern Nigeria.
Escravos is located in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
"Escravos" is a Portuguese word meaning ‘slaves’ and the area was one of the main conduits for slave trade between Nigeria and the Americas.
Communities here include Ugborodu, Ogidigben, Jala, Madagho and Ajidubu.
Escravos plays host to the two major transnational oil companies Shell and Chevron. Shell has three flow stations (Sagara, Otumara and Ogidigbe flow stations), while Chevron has its flow station offshore.
The main occupation here is fishing. Oil spill has had direct and astonishing impact on their means of livelihoods.
In July 2001, there was a very notorious crude oil spill along the Escravos Warri crude oil pipeline. Crude oil pumped from Escravos to Warri for about four days did not get to Warri. This huge quantity of crude oil was spilled into the creeks down to the sea. The result was massive destruction of aquatic life and the accompanying human misery. SL
Salomé Lamas & Raquel da Silva
Travessa da Ilha do Grilo, 40, 1900-262 Xabregas,
His Royal Majesty,
King Ateke Michael Tom J.P.,
Sekuro of Niger Delta,
Amanyanabo of Ancient Okochiri Kingdom, Okrika, Rivers State.
No. 15 Palace Street, Sekuro-Ama, Okochiri Kingdom.
Subject: Audience request
Your Royal Majesty,
We are two Portuguese artists visiting Nigeria with a key interest in the Niger Delta.
Our research ranges from culture to politics and we are mostly concerned with the environmental catastrophe and the resistance of the autochthonous communities.
In the past, we have visited other geographies whose neglected communities unfortunately suffer from identical pressures.
Your Majesty, it is our understand that you are a people’s gatekeeper, that your action is highly preached and that your influence and spirit go way beyond the borders of your kingdom.
It would be a privilege if you can grant us a (filmed) interview so we can learn more about your mission and vision.
In addition to this request, we would be extremely grateful if you would introduce us personally to the Okuchiri community and any other event of your election.
We can schedule the audience between the 16th-20th of March, depending on your availability.
Thank you so much for your attention as we hope to join efforts.
Salomé Lamas & Raquel da Silva
No doubt, cultism is one of the social vices that have been tormenting Nigerian society.
It is a ritual practice of a group of people whose membership and mode of operations are shrouded in secrecy. Their language is that of violence, which makes their activities to have negative effects on both members and nonmembers.
Although the history of cultism in the country dates back to some fifty years ago, its violent trend became really evident two decades ago.
Today, cult groups in schools and communities are brutally violent. They maim, kill, destroy and rape among other dastardly acts. In most cases, their evil activities have led to the closure of many schools, thus leading to the disruption of academic calendars.
A number of factors account for the increasing nuisance of cultism in our society. These include family background, peer pressure, unemployment, poverty and decadence in societal moral value among others. SL
Atake Tom palace - Okochiri - Akrika
We are in the kingdom of Okochiri, in the palace of his majesty Atake Tom. In front of us are sitting eleven of his advisers. Behind us, two of his bodyguards. When the King enters, he will climb the four steps (+2) that will allow him to reach his opulent throne flanked by two adorned armchairs. At her side were two giant lions, bathed in gold and a very serious air. There are two flags: the Nigerian one and one that was said to be Ijaw but which I would swear on my feet to be the French flag.
Salomé prepares the camera at the back of the room. Nervous for all the apparatus that was created here for our reception, which is no more nor less than any other reception that takes place here. The atmosphere has been tense since we arrived here, everything is tense, we are learning to manage.
There is a kind of staging, a prevailing policy of fear that is often based on fragile structures that gives particular pleasure to agitate. This board full of players and so many layers is a dangerous game.
When the king arrives, the opera will begin. Meanwhile, some of his advisers are already sleeping, and some of them very heavily. They beam a lion's snoring.
Perhaps they dream. RDS
An antenna. Sensitive. I absorb everything and get heavier.
We believe that your coming is different. You see us as different.
In this context, we realize that our interlocutors, battered by the mistreatment of the political and social apparatus of a corrupted region, and after an amnesty by the government in 2009 to demilitarize the militias, have found a way to operate that is still violent.
We are presented with different interests and intentions than other initiatives - reporters, NGOs, politicians, businessmen, oil investors ... but mistrust prevails and everyone wants to profit.
On the other hand, the few who believe in our quest place in us an inordinate amount of hope that unfortunately we fear we will not achieve due to the complexity of the situation and our insignificance.
Since we arrived we have played a theater. Where is our origin, our home. What does that origin mean when we are displaced. As if from this moment on life is this - now - and nothing else. SL
The current conflict in the Niger Delta first arose in the early 1990s over tensions between foreign oil corporations and a number of the Niger Delta's minority ethnic groups who feel they are being exploited, particularly the Ogoni and the Ijaw. Ethnic and political unrest continued throughout the 1990s despite the return to democracy and the election of the Obasanjo government in 1999. Struggle for oil wealth has fueled violence between ethnic groups, causing the militarization of nearly the entire region by ethnic militia groups, Nigerian military and police forces, notably the Nigerian Mobile Police. The violence has contributed to Nigeria's ongoing energy supply crisis by discouraging foreign investment in new power generation plants in the region.
From 2004 on, violence also hit the oil industry with piracy and kidnappings. In 2009, a presidential amnesty program accompanied with support and training of ex-militants proved to be a success. Thus until 2011, victims of crimes were fearful of seeking justice for crimes committed against them because of a failure to prosecute those responsible for human rights abuses. SL
Political or religious communities, kinship groups, and private individuals all maintained shrines honoring various spiritual agencies.
The reasons for visiting a shrine reflectes the full range of personal and social concerns.
Juju charms and spells can be used to inflict either bad or good juju.
Juju is sometimes used to enforce a contract or ensure compliance. In a typical scenario, the witch doctor casting the spell requires payment for this service.
The priests at important shrines engage in a wide array of activities addressing personal healing, social healing, or the adjudication of conflicts between communities. Prayers are usually empowered through the blood sacrifice of chickens or other domestic animals. A small number of shrines are associated with the administration of human sacrifice.
The blurring of religious and judicial functions in southern Nigerian shrines made them overdetermined sites for conflict. SL
We have budget issues – all costs in Nigeria are high – but in certain contexts our budget allows us to do a lot (humanitarian aid, essential goods) I have never been in a context (all too evident in Oloibiri, where oil was discovered in Nigeria in the 1950s and whose entrance features a deteriorated welcome sign MOTTO the goose that lay the golden eggs) where the bodies of victims deformed by the radioactive effects of oil extraction, wait passively without a future.
The effects of extraction are devastating [unexplained deaths, sick births] in an abandoned community where the infrastructure of industrial development is visible but where today there is no employment and the barren soil does not allow for subsistence.
We are not different, but our discourse is different, which eventually makes everything worse. Where is the desire in this film? At the price of what? It would be easier to be a reporter here. Not just in production. It's simple. Just pay and still take the inherent life risks for a few images or a source, but the challenge of a film is entirely different. Establishing a film crew in the Niger Delta is not only more expensive and risky because of the time spent on the ground, it is also more demanding in terms of access and engagement needs with the communities. SL
Port Harcourt, hotel
We are at the xxxxxx Hotel in Port Harcourt. Salomé interviews xxxxxx in room 009. We were to go to 007 but 009 was bigger.
It is an impossible task to maintain the silence necessary for an audio recording with the desired quality. We were afraid to put on the lapel microphone. Our interviewee is very nervous and scared. Preparing for the interview was tense. The conversation lasted two days until we arrived here today. Everything is tense here. It took several steps to gain trust until we got here, oracles consulted, a goat, a chicken, a bottle of spirit and validation from the older brother who called us before we started the interview to hear my voice and Salomé's tell him that everything is fine and that we are going to treat his dear brother well. Everything is tense.
I wait outside the room without any possibility of knowing what is going on inside. I followed the first part of the interview, but xxxxxx was worried about what might be going on outside. Leaves. I'm on sentry in the hall. The hotel is guarded by our police and security. Yet xxxxxx is afraid. I think everyone is more afraid for the simple fact that we exist and we are white.
I write because I can't hear anything that goes on inside. It rains heavily and there are two noisy generators outside the building.
There are frequent places without public light even in this large city where we are located.
I write because I can't hear anything and I need time to pass faster.
In about half an hour, we will start in our packing time and head back to our hotel. For security reasons, we cannot stay in the same place for a long time. I don't want to interrupt the interview and I write wishing I didn't have to. xxxxxx has the gift of the word. It is enchanting in the way it expresses itself.
At the beginning of the interview there was a little paranoia that characterizes him. He checked the bathroom in the room where he is being interviewed, in case someone was behind the shower curtains, then he left nervously, then went back in to urinate. Maybe it occurred to him to escape through the window, he looked at her. At the end of his pee he hummed a song as if to scare away evil spirits and finally relax, somewhere between each of these steps I gave him a hug, I felt the fear of a wounded animal. In his case, wounded by a bullet close to the ones that killed the two friends he was with. He watched, he survived, his head is at a premium.
Nigeria is my favorite country to visit so far. I liked it better because it is the most complex and this is a starting point for an immensity of possibilities for our knowledge, ours because I discover it with Salomé, and because of her and her immensity.
Here people are afraid in abundance contrasting with the lack of a series of other basic things that are scarce and to which they should have access and do not: clean water, health care, access to education for all, regulation and adequate formalization in the oil exploration sector, which should mean immense wealth for this country and for the territories and populations where this practice takes place. It's all in the hands of the central government and the big international companies like Shell and Total, among others. It's all in the hands of territories far from this devastated one. A comprehensive formalization, a strategic planning, could put an end to the cadaverous state of national refineries that currently only operate in Warri and Ibo State at half gas.
The levels of air, water and land pollution are unbearable. There is radioactivity, there are multiple diseases and for the most part undefined due to the lack of presence of health technicians to monitor and screen these populations. There is congenital malformation caused by the high level of pollution.
I never quite know what to say when asked if I'm enjoying Nigeria. Those who ask do not understand exactly what we do here. This is a reality far removed from the general knowledge of common European mortals. There is a latent functional ignorance that is not interesting to contradict. There are years and years of a poorly told story, of fictionalized and distorted narratives. This is what gives meaning to our presence here. That's why we can't die here, that would mean consolidating these narratives associated with the enactments of fear, despite the fact that the threats here are real and daily. I can die in a car accident in Portugal. I cannot die in a fit of revolt, fear, threat in Nigeria.
The best I can answer when people ask me if I am enjoying Nigeria, to be true to what I feel, is that I have never enjoyed discovering a country so much before, even despite the devastation that we find here in this south in the Niger Delta regions (Rivers State and Bayelsa).
I like the strength of the people who are here, their historical heritage, some awareness and lucidity and the struggles that are many because the territory is extensive and it was organized according to rules and squares.
Layers and layer and layers.
Wars, fights and players.
It's been three hours since we got here. The interview had to be interrupted because of the heavy rain and its persistent noise and lack of light. We started to enter the critical security time. From here everything is risk. I write again to overcome the possible anxiety of waiting and the pressure of the security that surrounds us. From this time the danger level increases. The sun went down about 20 minutes ago, it's 7:16 pm
We left the hotel after 8:30 pm. We left a tense and agitated atmosphere behind, including the hotel staff. Fear takes over. The last hour of waiting for the interview was a complex emotional management exercise. Every minute was negotiated abroad to postpone as much as possible the knock on the bedroom door for the announcement “Salomé, we have to go”.
My arms have gone numb from so much contained tension or else it's electric shocks from some energy sheet spread by rainwater.
“Everything is very strong here”, he wrote to Salomé on whatsaap, which he sent me at 5 am. I saw that you had been online since 4:20 am. Like me, he must not have slept that night either.
It's morning, he still hasn't come down for breakfast as he always does before me. RDS
Copies of letters to SHELL and AGIP delivered to us after an audience with His Eminence King Dumaro Charles Iwaba Obanobhan Ill of Ogbia Kingdom:
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR RECOGNITION
The Swamp Area Manager,
Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited, NAOC,
Dear Area Manager,
I write as His Royal Majesty, King Dumaro Charles - Owaba, Obanobhan III of Ogbia Kingdom in Bayelsa State, being the highest traditionai title holder in Ogbia Local Government Area.
I wish to bring to your esteemed notice that I was coronated on the 25th of March, 2017, since then has presided over as Obanobhan in-council covering other first class traditional rulers in the various Ogbia Clans.
You may recall that NAOC has operational bases in the following communities Akipelai, Emakalakala, Emadike, Epebu and Okodi locations. Indeed, these catchment areas fall within the jurisdiction of my throne while essentially also using the instrumentality of my palace to promote a peaceful atmosphere for your operations to go on unhindered.
It is therefore only proper for the Management of NAOC to give adequate official recognition to my Palace as part of your corporate social responsibility to host communities.
Kindly accept assurances of the highest esteem while looking forward as a major stakeholder.
His Royal Majesty
King Dumaro Charles - Owaba
Obanobhan III of Ogbia Kingdom
Stakeholders Management and Community
Development Division Manager
The Chief Executive Officer,
P.O. Box 162, 2501 AN,
RE: I AM SORRY CAMPAIGN MEETING OF SHELL INTERNATIONAL OPERATIONAL SITES HELD ON 18TH MAY 2018 IN HAGUE WITH EMPHASIS ON THE NIGER DELTA REGION IN NIGERIA, WEST AFRICA.
Following the 18th of May 2018 meeting of Shell International in Hague in the Netherlands, captioned "I am sorry campaign of Operational sites worldwide" I am obliged on behalf of my people as the Royal Majesty of Ogbia Kingdom in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria to express my gratitude to Shell International for the long-awaited dream.
As the traditional Custodian of the Ogbia people, Oloibiri Inclusive in the Niger Delta Region in Nigeria, where the controversial oil well was first struck in Commercial quantity in 1956 throughout West Africa, I hereby make the following comments based on the resolutions of the meeting as published:
1. It is worthy of mention that Oloibiri and Kolo Creek Oil fields are domiciled in Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State in Nigeria.
2. Incidentally, the huge financial gains from these operations cannot be over-emphasized vis-a-vis the continuous uncontrolled environmental degradation which had permanently caused various damages or diseases viz: the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) which are highly endemic in the region; a short life span of 45years according to World Health Organization (WHO) records; Cancer, through continuous exposure to gaseous waste and reproductive organ degeneration etc.
At this juncture, permit me to quote the widely accepted definition of Environmental Pollution by the United States President's Science Advisory Committee on environmental pollution panel (USPSAC 1965), "Environmental Pollution is the unfavorable alteration of our surroundings, wholly or largely as a by-product of man's actions, through direct effect of changes in energy patterns, radiation levels, chemicals and physical constituents, and abundance of organisms.
These changes may affect man directly, or through his supplies of water, agricultural and other biological objects of possessions or his opportunities for recreation and appreciation of nature".
Be that as it may, if this Campaign is properly planned and channeled to include the long-neglected people of the operational environment, it would stand a long way in addressing the issues of militancy which is mainly aimed at resource control in the Niger Delta Region in Nigeria, West Africa.
Nonetheless, the relocation of Shell International Headquarters in Nigeria to Oloibiri in the Oil rich region will specifically entrench the law of best practices in Nigeria and not mere encumbered monumental oil wells.
Herewith attached is my traditional photograph for your perusal.
His Eminence King Dumaro Charles Iwaba
Obanobhan Ill of Ogbia Kingdom
The Managing Director.
Shell Petroleum Development Company Limited,
Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
24' November. 2017
DEMAND FOR DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS IN OGBIA KINGDOM
As you are aware, in 1956 SPDC discovered the first commercial oil field at Oloibiri (Otuabagi) in Ogbia Kingdom. This celebrated discovery placed Nigeria. for the first time, in the league of oil and gas producing nations of the world.
From 1962 more discoveries had been made by SPDC in Kolo creek, Carthon channel, and Santa Babara, all in Ogbia Kingdom; and since then SPDC has been carrying on oil exploitation activities in these areas, which to a large extent has negatively affected the environment and the people.
Sadly. SPDC has not carried out substantial development to justify its long presence in the Kingdom. Consequently, the Ogbia people have resolved to make the following demands from SPDC:
1. Building of a befitting palace at Ogbia town for the overall king of Ogbia Kingdom.
2. Building of four befitting palaces for the four Clan Heads in Ogbia Kingdom.
3. Rehabilitation of the Imiringi/Doibiri road which was constructed by SPDC some time in 2001.
4. Construction of Otuabagi / Iduma road.
5. Construction of road linking the communities in Anyama Clan.
6. Replacement of the Metal Bridges with Concrete Bridges on Opolo/Elebele/Imiringiroad.
7. Provision of monthly allowances for the up keep of the Obanobhan of Dgbia Kingdom, and the four Clan Heads.
It is important to note that because of strategic position Ogbia Kingdom occupies in SPDG's history of oil exploration and exploitation in the West Africa sub-region, the global corporate social responsibility record of SPDC would, to a large extent, be determined by its contribution to the infrastructural development of the Kingdom.
We, therefore, urge you in the interest of peace and harmonious co-existence to grant our demands as prayed. Our peaceful disposition over the years should not be construed as weakness.
We are not unaware of the present economic situation of the country and its effect on the oil and gas industry; however, the aforementioned projects are very critical to the overall development of Ogbia.
While waiting for a prompt and positive response, we assure you of our maximum cooperation, and wish you merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.
1. His Eminence King Dumaro Charles Iwaba
Obanobhan Ill of Ogbia Kingdom
2. HRM King George Adumein Lawson,
Obanobhan of Emeyal Clan
3. HRM King Maddocks Adoku Ogbogi
Obanobhan of Dloibiri Clan
4. HRM King Omie Theophilous.
Obanobhan of Anyama Clan
5. HRM King Collins E. Daniel
Olila-Ebhugh of Abureni Clan
6. Chief Benson Sunday Acadaga
National Chairman of Ogbia Brotherhood
7. Chaplain Ogiriki Elliot Ebutu
General Secretary. Ogbia Brotherhood
The General Manager,
Nigeria Agip Oil Company Ltd, NAOC,
Mile 4, Ikwerre Road,
REQUEST FOR EFFECTIVE COLLABORATION WITH HOST COMMUNITY OF OGBIA KINGDOM OF BAYELSA STATE
I bring warm greetings from HRM, KING DUMARO CHARLES-OWABA, Obanobhan Ill of Ogbia Kingdom of Bayelsa State and the Chief Custodian of the culture and tradition of the people.
It should also interest you to note that Ogbia Kingdom is also the Country home of the immediate past President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, and has played an important role of breaking the ice of exploration in the oil industry as well as being relatively peaceful.
To the management of NAOC, the Ogbia Kingdom has some host Communities within its operational zone. They include Akipelai, Epebu, Emadike and Okodi as major players and for contributing to the nation's resources and development which should be considered in your annual blue print where you carry out Community development projects.
It is therefore my candid opinion to cordially invite the top echelon of NAOC to my Palace, my humble abode in Yenagoa, located opposite Asuefai Clinic, off Baybridge Road, Kpansia.
The meeting will provide a platform for effective collaboration between the two parties in line with your corporate social responsibility to host Communities where you operate
Accept my assurances of the highest esteem.
HRM, KING D. C. OWABA,
Obanobhan Ill of Ogbia Kingdom
The Division Manager,
Stakeholders Management Community
Questioning the film, the scope of an action, the impact on reality, disproportion. If the idea is to transform the world, perhaps fiction can dream of building other, better worlds.
Whenever I have space to think, which is very limited here, I raise questions to the security protocol we have accepted.
I can't judge the environment or intuit the limits. We are always feeling that we are being violated or that we are violating the other, or both at the same time.
Frustration. My question is never about how you are conducting the production Raquel, but I need the space to feel I have decision control. If only to get out of the vicious circle I feel I have called you into. SL
The promise of the construction of a National Oil Museum in Oloibiri was made decades ago. The surrounding communities expected that it could bust the development of the neglected region while it would recognize its historical importance. Oil was first discovered in Nigeria in Oloibiri in the 50’s.
In Yenagoa we received two VHS tapes to digitalize with one of the few recordings of the last Government visit in 15/16 March 2001.
The meetings followed the traditional protocol and all the ethic groups across Nigeria gathered. SL
To project a film is to make a world, to formulate an aesthetic and narrative discourse that surpasses, by virtue of a superfluity, or implements, by default, its approach to the scenario that we call "reality".
What matters is not what we speak about but the way in which we speak about, the questions we set in our search for answers.
Some films more than others are of a different pulse and spiritual order. They are films with aims and assumptions, but whose direction is battled on the ground.
The generosity and responsibility of those serving the film goes beyond the professional protocol, we share the findings, raise arguments, soldier the geography within the frame of time. It is a proposal where physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits are explored.
Pantheras starts with an interest for human rights in the Niger Delta replying to the climate change crisis and urgent global geopolitical reorganisation.
It aims at addressing smuggling ideologies and clandestine economies; neoliberal risks in neocolonialism; oil and power (oil complex effect); economies of violence and governable spaces (spaces of chieftainship, indigeneity and nationalism).
I have never been under so much tension with such complex and mixed signs.
Going accompanied is different than going alone on so many levels. It had to be not merely someone to ensure the production of the film, it had to be more than that…
Everything starts to settle down. We — Raquel — leave, with the will and the certainty of returning. SL
Lagos, Riviera Hotel
I have lost a few pounds. That’s not bad. We will return with a mixture of mission accomplished for this project phase, combined with a slight frustration that, just now that we begin to understand how things work here, we cannot stay a little longer.
There are no models that are worth a production in a place like this. I told Folarin that there are risks inherent to our activity and that we are willing to take some of them and that, otherwise, the overprotection that we are supposed to be granted here could condition the movement and the gesture of a shooting and its preparation. I cannot imagine making this film without Folarin on our side.
Here we started a long conversation, which will last for months, and which will have oscillations. The next elections will accentuate the weaknesses and instabilities that we have already identified. With that other levels of conflict that we do not yet know will arise.
I think this will be a film that will start with a few diverse premises. That the reach of each one of them will be volatile in the time of their scheduling, and that we will have to be prepared for these inconsistencies. Upon arrival in Portugal, they will want you to say that there are conditions to make a film here. I would say yes, because it is necessary, because we proved that we managed to achieve the things we were looking for, because others have filmed things here before. I will say yes with the absolute conviction that preparation time on the ground is necessary. We don't know what movie will this be, we need more time to start to realize. For now, the only certainty I have is the risk, the inconstancy and the mental availability needed to deal with it. We'll have to return with more than one possibility of a film up our sleeves to dodge the blockade.
I would stay here a little longer, submerged in this dive into an oil well.
It will also be good to have Joel around.
I will return as I first came here: infinitely happy to be on this adventure with Salomé. RDS
I shall say that the environment out there is way more coded and dangerous that I have ever imagined. Besides the private security (bodyguard) and logistics we had to go around daily with police escorts (four armed men).
I can’t really describe in a single blow what is at stake there (rooted in indigenous societies, British colonialism, modern society, unashamed capitalism, conflicting international powers…)
The entangled Niger Delta (status quo) has been spreading insecurity and corruption across Nigeria and beyond.
The region has long (since the 50’s) been handling a crisis over resource control (oil) where all the players are fully armed and reactively ready to fight. It calls for external mediation but the stakes might be too high for such intervention while human rights get shadowed by economic international interests.
It is a vicious cycle where the curse or blessing seems unbreakable. Nevertheless, every day numerous people die from the effects of pollution, murdered by aimless bullets, juju money rituals, miss management of kidnaps, hunger, accidents and highjacking explosions.
Still trying to puzzle the next steps and the risks involved for both, production and whomever we work with as "whistle blowers". SL
I like you a lot, Raquel. The issues I struggle with are bigger than our task here.
From the beginning I've felt like saying out loud – for everything or looking for somewhere else to be without embarrassing ourselves too much.
The funds for this trip were raised for the movie and we make movies.
Happy to be here with you with such meaningful aims. SL
I am sending this message to everybody in Nigeria our beloved nation.
Since the problems facing African nations are much alike, this message is therefore extended to the whole continent of Africa.
The album THE ONLY CONDITION TO SAVE NIGERIA is my contribution and suggestion on how to solve the present economic situation.
An adage says, time changes and no condition is permanent, so, it is important our leaders to manage the state affairs with selfless effort and dedication. It is high time we find solutions to our biting problems like the ELECTRIC POWER FAILURES, acute shortage of WATER supply and very many others that are befalling our nation.
It is very disheartening to note that Agriculture which used to be the back-bone of our country has either been relegated or neglected. It is therefore important that we go practical farming as we are blessed with virgin land. It is time to plant enough rice for consumption instead of importing rice, which will in no doubt save our foreign exchange.
We waste a lot of foreign reserve on non-essential things and so we need to modernise the system of building.
Rural areas are being deserted for urbans. While calling on all of us to have a new approach to education, I stress the need for the establishment of more TRADE CENTRES.
There is nothing bad when constructing our roads and bridges to award contracts to foreigns or indigenous contractors. But experience in the past proved many times that the former performed better. To be candid, we need to train our people on how to construct and maintain good roads and bridges.
Finally, the only condition to save Nigeria is for all of us to be ready to work together.
Ebenezer Obey, Chief Commander 1984
It is therefore time to affirm that, contrary to what an enchanted doxa suggests, the art world is a particularly violent workplace, structured in an unequal manner and using toxic management methods. Contrary to the dominant discourse, let’s refuse the individualization of social problems. SL
Excerpts from the production report:
a) We were able to meet in person with the contacts established.
b) We were able to meet new possible collaborators, but we can’t assess their reliability due to the mutating environment. There were too many interlocutors to establish a one-on-one relation.
c) We had a good impression of Port Harcourt and its offer of services and commodities. On a next occasion we will visit Warri another oil hub in the region.
d) Visits to the surrounding communities can be planned differently and more objectively. We lacked overall knowledge of the field. Arrangements take time and there was no other way around protocols. We didn’t succeed in visiting Bonny Island due to the high instability prior to the presidential electoral campaign.
e) The conditions to gather materials for a promo were hard to manage.
f) We were traveling with a lot of collaborators and team. The entry points to the communities are too protocolar and there was no time for real connection. Security was a major concern to take into consideration.
Nonetheless, we consider that we successfully completed this first approach to the real context that we intend to film.
Gather materials for artistic development and production information that will allow for a shooting with crew during the second semester of 2023.
a) Disregarding the complexity of a coded environment it was clear that our aims are urgent.
b) All the agents in the region call for external mediation.
c) The materials gathered are insufficient. We will run for funding with what we have gathered as well as with additional materials to be collected remotely. Please refer to the funding application planning on this report.
d) A second trip must take place prior to the shooting.
e) Different hypothesis of film must be prepared ranging in level of complexity (production value, access, security)
We have an overview of:
- Social structure (modern and traditions), history (Nigeria and the Delta region), politics (ethnic groups, 2023 election expectations), religion (Yoruba and Juju), economics (formal and informal oil-based economy), philosophy (models of knowledge and systems of beliefs)
- Differences between modern and traditional society (Subsistence and economy, Material culture, Cultural ecology, Political and social features, Lifestyle)
- Geography (distances and travel time)
- Introduction to the authorities in different kingdoms.
- The expat community and international politics in the Niger Delta, Nigeria, West Africa, Africa, foreign relations.
- Concerns and expectations of the communities.
- Visit damaged environments (cleaning fields, community wells, land, water)
- Recourses control web: Oil multinationals, Bunkering business (contractors, buyers, facilitators, boys) Nigeria National Armed Forces (police, NAF, Anti-cult, JTF, Army, Navy, Air force), Cults and Brotherhoods, Militants, Activists, NGO, Businessmen (investors), Expats (workers, oil rigs), Private security sector, Indigenous liberation movements, Religion)
- Insecurity in the region and security protocols.
(*) Contains materials that can’t be disclosed at this stage of production. If you share our vision and have inquiries, please get in contact.