IFAA Forum: Niger Delta Command, a book launch, and panel discussion

Venue: Bertha House, 67 & 69 Main Rd, Mowbray, Cape Town

Date: 23rd November 2022

Time: 4.30 pm for 5 pm (Snacks and Drinks in Dining Area)

RSVP to: https://cutt.ly/UMAaEPh

Press Statement

The “Niger Delta Command”, a work of fiction will be launched at Bertha House in Mowbray, Cape Town on Wednesday the 23rd of November 2022 at 5 pm. The book is based on the struggle of the Ogoni people, an ethnic minority, against Shell and the Nigerian government. The book is specifically crafted around the ideology of Ken Saro-Wiwa who was hanged with 8 of his comrades by the Abacha regime on the 10th of November 1995.

The author, Barry Wugale, first joined the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) under Saro-Wiwa when he was only 18 years of age. He fled to the Benin Republic in the late 90s and subsequently became the spokesperson for over 2000 Ogoni activists. He escaped to South Africa after several attempts to eliminate him or rendition him to Nigeria.

While the Niger Delta Command is a pure work of fiction, his experience in the struggle and close working relationship with the leadership of the Ogoni movement inspires this 31-chapter compelling story.

Niger Delta Command is set in Bukhana, the original name of the indigenous Ogoni people, and holistically draws on the characteristics of their culture. The book also mirrors the fact that the Ogoni are one of Nigeria’s minority tribes whose lands are richly endowed with crude oil. This region, comprised of only 1000 square kilometers in size with a population of 832 000 people, has been ravaged by Shell and its partners since crude oil was first discovered there in 1958.

The book launch will be used to reflect on the state of the Niger Delta region 27 years after the gruesome murder of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his colleagues. Included on the panel, will be Prof. Isioma Ile, who is not only from the region, but also a niece of renowned Professor Claude Ake, a close associate of Ken Saro-Wiwa who was also assassinated by Sani Abacha’s regime.

Prof. Ile and Wugale will be joined by Janet Solomon, a Ph.D. candidate who has been researching and working on a documentary on the attempt by Shell to explore the Wild Coast of South Africa. She has been recently working on the links between the Ogonis and fishing communities along the South African coast.

Another highlight of the evening will be the debut screening of “Searching Serenity”, a short film (26mins) by Ndume Green, a prominent environmental journalist, and CEO of Ogoni TV. This documentary recounts the story of the impact of Shell in Ogoni.

Both the “Niger Delta Command” and “Searching Serenity” synchronize on the excesses of Shell and its joint-venture partners In Ogoniland which enabled them to extract 900 million barrels of crude oil over 33 years but left a cocktail of environmental hazards that encroached on farmlands and impoverished communities. The evening’s program will recall the international outpouring of anger and shock in 1995 when the Nigerian military, sponsored by Shell, responded to a peaceful Ogoni protest with lethal force that eventually resulted in the gruesome murders of Ken Saro-Wiwa and his comrades.

 This painful history forms the backdrop to the beautiful stories woven into “Niger Delta Command” by Wugale.

The hosting of this event is a collaboration between Reach Publishers, The Institute for African Alternatives, Oceans Not Oil, The Ogoni Solidarity Forum, and Surplus Radical Books

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