Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Nigeria; My Texas

I just wrote an entire post based on an article I thought was written last week. I'm tired, blury eyed. It was not. It was written last year. The article is about gang violence in an "oil-drenched" city in Nigeria.

The thing is, I think what I had to say is not different. I've pasted the article at the end -- and isn't it awful when you predict something then realize you were looking at the past and predicted the truth...

Published: November 9, 2007

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria — Rosemary Douglas has no connection to the oil business that pumps more than two million barrels of crude a day from beneath the swampy Niger Delta. But the violence surrounding it pierced her home in September anyway, when a bullet shattered her upper left arm as she napped with her 2-year-old daughter.

“I don’t know why this happened to me,” she said, grimacing in pain as she gave a bewildered account of the gunplay that has engulfed her neighborhood and much of this oil-drenched city. “I mind my own business.”

The violence that has rocked the Niger Delta in recent years has been aimed largely at foreign oil companies, their expatriate workers and the police officers and soldiers whose job it is to protect them. Hundreds of kidnappings, pipeline bombings and attacks on flow stations and army barracks have occurred in the past two years alone.

But these days the guns have turned inward, and open battles have erupted with terrifying frequency on the pothole-riddled streets of this ramshackle city. The origins of the violence are as murky and convoluted as the mangrove swamps that snake across the delta, one of the poorest places on earth. But they lie principally in the rivalry among gangs, known locally as cults, that have ties to political leaders who used them as private militias during state and federal elections in April, according to human rights advocates, former gang members and aid workers in the region.

It's an interesting article -- if you are so inclined... interesting too after reading earlier this week the news that MEND saved a number of hostages taken by thugs...

The thing is, that this is where the companies win. This is where the government begins to make cases of justification and warrant... as if it made invalid the claims, pleas, statements made by the forces that attacking the oil companies.

When people get down they get further down. There is no end to evidence for that.
I have a friend who just returned from a few weeks in service at the National Guard -- he was supposed to be guarding the house of the CEO of Exxon - he was supposed to report back with fancy furniture for me to write about.

But he went to guard the Exxon equipment instead -- in the middle of one of the worst communities in the US. The National Guard commander had to broker terms with the drug lord in order to keep peace while they were there -- it seems a lot of uniforms deter people from wanting to buy drugs...

He said that there, no body has to pay for their house -- but the women are prostitutes and the men are runners.

I didn't know there were places like that in the US.
I am beginning to learn about Nigeria.

It concerns me when there is no news.
And it concerns me when the news illustrates a point of view which will -- soon it seems to me (in my crystal ball...) -- be used to clamp down on the people who live there.

It concerns me that gas prices are way down. Because I am less motivated to find alternative.

I hate reading about Nigeria. I hate knowing that my way of life is such a cause of harm. Our way of life. Oil.

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