In this #intothedarkrooms, our writer Ebenezer Okike looks at the work of Nigerian photographer George Osodi. His work is a powerful testament to the power of profit gained from oil and the ability for those to ignore the destructive effects of said ‘profit’ on their own people.
In the search for dynamic and real I took a deep dive into the intriguing work of George Osodi.
George Osodi worked for various newspapers in the country before going fully into photo-journalism. He commenced work on the Niger Delta Project in 2003 and in the course of the next four years he compiled an expansive body of work. The result is a gripping visual testimony to the situation faced by the people of the Niger Delta. He tells a story of cruelty, an insatiable need for power and the birth of a new language termed rebellion. This is, above all, the oldest African story. A story where profit comes before humanity.
Ogoni Boy portrays a young boy with a look showing elements of despair and anguish. It is an anguish and despair which is indicative of the people of the region (Ogoni Land in Rivers State) who have been forced to re-create their lives in the face of the looming spectre of profit. The cloud of dark smoke in the background is a result of the evil genius called pipeline vandalism and oil bunkery. This has resulted in intense pollution, damage to farmlands, properties and sadly the loss of human lives.
As much as the people blame the government and oil corporations, George Osodi also showed that the people who live and work there also play a part in this mayhem by submitting to their animalistic nature. A nature where the ones meant to counsel, turn to the ones pushing the young at heart to commit tremendous atrocities.
This image still by George Osodi shows a woman happily spreading her tapioca outside with serious flaring activity in the background. Gas flaring has tremendous hazardous effects on the health; poisoning, acid rain and a variety lung disease. But this isn’t just an image which depicts the dark side of living in the Niger Delta, it is also one of hope. The hope that though things aren’t exactly perfect, they can always be better.
This is the story of the Niger Delta from the eyes of George Osodi. A story of inhumanity told by a Nigerian about Nigeria.