GEORGE OSODI - DELTA NIGERIA - THE RAPE OF PARADISE
For more than five centuries the fortunes of the Niger Delta have been closely tied to that of the global economy. This began through its slave ports, then its palm oil industry, and most recently through the discovery of crude oil in the 1950s. Oil multinationals soon came to the fore, working in alliance with a local elite to strip the region of its wealth and despoil it. At the receiving end are the region’s impoverished inhabitants — left with a poisoned environment. Oil leaks and explosions abound, the water supply is heavily contaminated, and they are faced with a government that does not care. Amidst this, rival armed militant groups claim territories.
In recent years, local guerrillas in balaclavas and speed boats, armed with enormous rounds of ammunition, have taken on the oil companies. They demand the right to live in their own clean and unpolluted land, and that the delta is restored to its former environmental richness.
These dramatic images document for the first time the extent of environmental damage and the daily conditions the people living there are forced to endure, revealing not only to the world, but also to Nigeria itself, what exactly is happening in their country— a nation where vast riches are being taken from the land and very little is given back to the people.
George Osodi grew up in Ogwashi-Uku, a town in the Delta State of Nigeria. Osodi is an internationally acclaimed Nigerian photographer who has spent many years documenting his country, hoping to bring attention to the rest of the world and the people of Nigeria alike, portraying a country still so rich in natural resources and beauty, but where many of its people have been left with nothing. Osodi works in color and combines critical reportage with fine art color photography. His subjects are mostly dealing with themes of social, economic and ecological exploitation of man and nature in the Niger Delta.