Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Creating an Imaginary: The Middle Passage Memory in (Afro)Atlantic Societies


1. The Middle Passage as Cultural Memory
Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano: Or, Gustavus Vassa the African, 1789 (Vol. I). London: Dawsons, 1969. Print.
This autobiography describes the extraordinary life of Olaudah Equiano, who was captured in West Africa (eastern Nigeria today) and sold into slavery at age eleven. Equiano’s narrative offers the earliest, and perhaps the only, first-person account of the harrowing Middle Passage experience. The author was first a slave to a British naval officer for several years, who exposed him to Christianity. He was later sold to a Quaker merchant, who allowed Equiano to purchase his own freedom in 1766. Equiano describes his subsequent move to London, where he committed himself to the abolitionist cause. The book’s conclusion advocates Christianity, morality, and the abolition of slavery.

James, C. L. R. The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L’Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution. New York: Vintage Books, 1989. Print.
Chronicles the history of slavery and slave revolt in the French colony of Saint Domingue, which became the nation of Haiti (and later the Dominican Republic) after a long struggle for independence. James gives early imaginings of Columbus landing on the shores of Hispaniola in search of gold, slavers scouring for human cargo on the coasts of Africa, and the agonizing journey of the Middle Passage. During the period of unrest that led to revolt in 1790-1, James details the tense communiqués between France and San Domingo, including his analysis of France’s shifting decrees in response to unrest. The prevailing rationale to preserve slavery, James explains, was to preserve France’s prowess in oceanic commerce.

The Black Jacobins narrates the rise of Toussaint L’Ouverture during San Domingo’s revolt; James portrays L’Ouverture as a courageous fighter and an astute politician. L’Ouverture made an uneasy alliance with Spain in the campaign to expel French forces from the island, and later orchestrated the expulsion of the Spanish. L’Ouverture also led the defense of the island against invading British, Spanish and French forces, even as San Domingo maintained commercial relations with these nations. Because Haiti’s economy depended so heavily on sugar exports, the young nation had to establish itself even as imperial ships trafficked its shores.

Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. UNC Press Books, 1994. Print.
Argues that the primary motivation for the slave trade was capital gain and as such, slavery was fundamental to the growth of capitalism in the international economy. Williams’ analyses focus specifically on Britain’s accumulation of capital both in the American colonies and, after the revolution, in the West Indies. The accumulation of wealth through the trade of slaves and the raw materials they produced, Williams argues, enabled investment in the machinery that fueled Britain’s Industrial Revolution. He also highlights how the trans-Atlantic slave trade led to deterioration in West Africa while Europe was greatly enriched. An important detail for this bibliography is how the concept of race that prevails today began with the slave trade. Item not seen.  

Césaire, Aimé. The Original 1939 Notebook of A Return to the Native Land: Bilingual Edition. Trans. A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman.  Middletown, Conn: Wesleyan University, 2013. Print.
Césaire’s furious, plangent and defiant poem describes the Antilles islands as a wretched, revolting land. This mute, inert land “pitted by smallpox, dynamited by alcohol” is very much a projection of the poet’s psychosocial perceptions. The decaying environs of Césaire’s Antilles are a stand-in for the psychological neuroses that centuries of colonization and racist dehumanization has caused for the islands’ inhabitants.

Négritude is Césaire’s redeeming ideology, which gives the poem its resilience. Négritude as expressed in Notebook is what was then a revolutionary idea that “it-is-beautiful-good-and-legitimate-to-be-a-nigger“ (verse 109). For Césaire, the nearby island of Haiti is “where negritude rose for the first time and stated that it believed in its humanity” (34). Martinique, for the poet, was still in the process of awakening to the racial consciousness that négritude represented. The potent symbol of the slave ship on its transatlantic voyage is where Césaire imagines this awakening: “And the nigger scum is on its feet// the seated nigger scum/ unexpectedly standing/ standing in the hold/ standing in the cabins/ standing on the deck/ standing in the wind/ standing under the sun/ standing in the blood/ standing/ and/ free” (107-8).

Hayden, Robert. “Middle Passage.” Collected Poems. Ed. Frederick Glaysher. New York; London: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1996. 48-54. Print.
Confronts one of the most tortured memories of the American collective experience. The poet narrates the “voyage through death” as he imagines the anguish of chattel slaves tight-packed below the decks. Slaves singing as they jump from the ship to feeding sharks, crewman casting lots to lie with “the comeliest/ of the savage girls,” and unconscionable African slave traders are a few of the painful topics readers encounter.

In an inventive twist, the poet inverts roles by imagining the Amistad revolt. There is an implicit judgment of slavery’s inhumanity when white slavers become victims begging those they enslaved for mercy. Hayden remembers this “voyage through death” without forgetting “life upon these shores.” “Middle Passage” is thus homage to the past that keeps an eye on the present and the future.

Harris, Wilson. “History, Fable and Myth in the Caribbean and Guianas.” Selected Essays of Wilson Harris: The Unfinished Genesis of the Imagination. London; New York: Routledge, 1999. Print.
Contemplates the attempts on the part of black communities in the Americas to imagine their history, which has otherwise been discarded, misrepresented or marginalized. Harris (1970) argues black history in the Americas began in the Middle Passage as part of a “renascence of a new corpus of sensibility that could translate and accommodate African and other legacies within a new architecture of cultures” (158). Because this corpus is both African and American, Harris reflects, it makes sense that its new spatiality was formed over the waters between the two landmasses.

Morejón, Nancy. “Mujer Negra (Black Woman).” Proyecto Ensayo Hispánico. Ed. Gómez-Martínez. N.d. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
In this brief poem (1975), Morejón addresses the historical legacies of the transatlantic slave trade, the Middle Passage, plantation slavery, imperialist capitalism and national liberation. The poem’s speaker declares she can still smell the spume of the sea she was forced to cross, and she recalls her trials as a slave until she came down from the Sierra (evoking the Cuban Revolution) to do away with the money-lenders, generals and the bourgeoisie. Where they planted a tree for communism, the poem concludes, its generous wood still resounds.

Walcott, Derek. “The Sea is History.” Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, 2007. Web. 18 Feb. 2015.
Explores the memory of the transatlantic slave trade, new world slavery, the struggle for emancipation and the right to vote. “The Sea is History” (1980) imagines the poem’s speaker being interrogated by “sirs” who ask about his/her history. The speaker assures these sirs his/her history is locked away in the sea’s grey vault. As Walcott describes these memories sinking into the vault, he shows they are at once irretrievable and impossible to forget. The poet alludes to this haunting past while linking each moment to a biblical scripture. In this way, the poem shows black history in the Americas is neither less significant nor less momentous, and yet there is no great book that narrates it. The poem in a sense is Walcott’s attempt to salvage that lost history. 

Walcott, Derek. “The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory.” Nobel Laureates in Search of Identity and Integrity: Voices of Different Cultures. Ed. Anders Hallengren. New Jersey: World Scientific, 2004. iucat.iu.edu. Web. 9 Mar. 2015.
Reflecting on the performance of Ramleela, the dramatization of the Hindu epic Ramayana, in the Trinidadian village of Felicity, Walcott seeks to complicate perceptions of the amalgam of disjointed, fragmentary cultures of the Antilles. Walcott ruminates on the denigrating appraisals of Antillean culture as “illegitimate, rootless, mongrelized,” but gestures toward recovery and revaluation: “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.”

In light of vacationers in search of a Caribbean staged for post-card photos, even as “[t]he sea sighs with the drowned from the Middle Passage, the butchery of its aborigines,” Walcott sees a cultural loss in the act of impoverished islanders selling themselves in this way. Amid these erosions of selfhood, Walcott asserts to posterity the fact of Antillean culture.


2. Atlantic World Scholarship Meets the Black Imaginary

Emory University. The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. Emory University, 2008, 2009. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
This interactive website offers detailed and comprehensive data on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade between 1501 and 1866. Site features include numerous essays; trade route maps; images of archive maps, trade registries, drawings of ships and slaves; total estimates of slaves taken into the trade according to temporal cohorts; lists of slave ship captains names; and records of African names differentiated by region of origin.

Stevens, Laura M. “Transatlanticism Now.” American Literary History 16.1 (2004): 93–102. Googlescholar. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.
Situates scholarship on transatlantic literary imaginaries in the context of the burgeoning field of Atlantic History. The period between 1500 and 1800, for Stevens, is the most important for Atlantic history because this is the time that most dramatically altered transatlantic connections. It is precisely these connections, the article continues, that make Atlantic nations and nationalisms impossible to study in isolation.

Stevens puts David Armitage’s “Three Concepts of Atlantic History” in dialogue with cultural theorists like Paul Gilroy and Benedict Anderson, as well as literary historians like Paul Giles, William Donoghue and W. M. Verhoeven. The author sees “imagined communities” in the Americas forming out of a multidirectional flow of people and ideas. Stevens focuses on pre-modern authors like Jane Austen, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Anthony Trollope, Olaudah Equiano and Edgar Allan Poe. She imagines the ocean as “a site of almost empty surfaces but richly populated depths, a place that must be passed through rather than settled on, and a vast territory whose edges change with the hours" (93).

Morgan, Philip D. “The cultural implications of the Atlantic slave trade: African regional origins, American destinations and new world developments.” Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, 18:1 (1997) 122-145. Googlescholar. Web. 31 Mar. 2015
Surveys scholarly investigations of the statistical records of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Morgan synthesizes the collaborative work of David Eltis, David Richardson and Stephen D. Behrendt at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard. The project, he explains, was to compile “information on all known individual voyages drawn from the records of all the major European and American slaving powers“ (124). Morgan asserts that broad summaries of slave trade records obscure significant changes in trading patterns over time. “Aggregate, sequential and structural analyses,” Morgan notes, “emphasize the complexity of the slave trade” (127). Citing by Eltis and Richardson, Morgan asserts that the variety of African cultures taken into slavery resulted in fewer ‘carryovers’ of African culture in the black diaspora than previously thought. Morgan emphasizes the case of Cuba, which trafficked slaves from so many regions, by arguing that the loss of culture and language was severe. This research is very interesting, and surprising, considering the continued practice in Cuba of Lukumi, a language and religion derivative of Yoruba in present-day Nigeria and Benin.

Morgan explains why his research emphasizes records of slaves arriving in the Americas and not on those leaving Africa, even though he recognizes the political complexities that influenced the slave trade in Africa are very significant. Morgan’s decision not to focus on Africa in any profound way shows to be deeply flawed when he claims that long journeys from interior Africa ‘probably’ eroded the ethnic and cultural identity of captives by the time they got to port. Judging from generalized statements concerning Senegambia and the Yoruba, Morgan and the scholars he cites demonstrate a very superficial understanding of ethnicity in West Africa.

Mann, Kristin. “Shifting Paradigms in the Study of the African Diaspora and of Atlantic History and Culture.” Slavery & Abolition: A Journal of Slave and Post-Slave Studies, 22.1 (2001) 3-21. Googlescholar. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.
Engages with the burgeoning academic discourse between scholars of Africa and scholars of the Americas, and seeks to redress a discursive impasse. Mann argues there have been two prevailing paradigms in the study of the black diaspora in relation with Africa. The first paradigm, put forth by Melville Herskovits, viewed manifestations of black culture in the Americas as the product of ‘survivals’ retained from Africa. In the 1970s, Richard Price, Sally Price and Sidney Mintz “emphasized innovation and adaptation within black cultures of the New World and argued for the development of hybrid creole culture” (5). Mann takes these paradigms apart by revealing not only the complexities in black diaspora cultures but also their variety across geographical specificity in the Americas. She concludes by calling for representations of the “African diaspora beyond simple oppositions, unitary models and static constructions to more varied, complex and fluid accounts that come closer to capturing the unfolding experiences of Africans and their descendants throughout the Atlantic world” (16).

Sandiford, Keith Albert. Theorizing a Colonial Caribbean-Atlantic Imaginary: Sugar and Obeah. New York: Routledge, 2011. Print.
Establishes the author’s use of the term imaginary by building on Cornelius Castoriadis’s definition, which Sandiford characterizes as “the magma or creative force from which a society’s cultural origins may be traced” (1). Sandiford views the foundation of the colonial Caribbean-Atlantic imaginary as an extension of western literary works like Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Milton’s Paradise Lost. The sections most relevant for this bibliography are “Introduction,” “The Imaginary as a Poetics of Theory and Crosscultural Consciousness,” and “Sugar and the Ocean.”

The growth of black consciousness in the colonial Caribbean-Atlantic, Sandiford argues, stood in direct contrast to the order that colonizing slaveholders sought to establish. Slavocrats sought to fetishize sugar, which was so important to their capitalist enterprise, while the slaves’ conception of obeah (folk religion) as disease undermined the precepts of plantation society. Sandiford posits that limbo, vodun, and slave-indigenous creolization created myths that encountered one another, flowed through one another, and metamorphosed to form a novel consciousness in black-indigenous America.

Clément, Vincent. “Latitude and Longitude of the Past: Puce, Negritude and French Caribbean Identity in Aimé Césaire’s Poetry.” Caribbean Studies 39.1/2 (2011): 171–193. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.
Connects geographical descriptions in Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to Native Land with the natural landscape of the poet’s home island of Martinique. Clément portrays Notebook as  the poet’s search for “geographic coordinates lost in the wake of the slave ships” (173). Through the act of writing, Clément argues Césaire creates a new French Caribbean identity and geography.

Clément later analyzes the political energy at work in the poem. He includes Césaire’s transformative experience living in France, where he first discovered his “otherness” as a black man in Paris. Clément describes Césaire meeting Léopold Sédar Senghor and their creation of the négritude movement. He notes that Césaire was critiqued for privileging Africa over the Antilles in his poetry, and shows that Césaire’s calls for transnational black consciousness was soon eclipsed by Caribbean valuation of creolité.

Ngal, Georges. Aimé Césaire: Un homme à la recherche d’une patrie. Paris: Présence africaine, 1994. 111-117. Print.
Historicizes the moments in Césaire’s life that influenced the development of his poetic and political consciousness. The chapters most significant to this bibliography are “Three: Le Retour au pays natal” and “Four: Les débuts d’une esthétique d’enracinement 1935-1946.”

Chapter Three highlights Césaire’s departure from France by boat to Martinique days after World War II broke out. Ngal describes Césaire’s time teaching at Schoelcher secondary school in Martinique, where his enthusiasm renewed student interest in their studies of Virgil and Sophocles. Chapter Four dissects the ideological tendencies of Césaire’s négritude as expressed in his poetry. Ngal highlights in Césaire’s Notebook the author’s deep mistrust of civilization and its conquering ways. Césaire’s outlook, Ngal argues, is deeply influenced by Leo Frobenius’s ethnographic work on African civilization. Because so much of négritude as an ideology relies on rhetoric, Ngal argues a historical perspective is necessary to get at any truth.

Plasa, Carl. “Doing the Slave Trade in Different Voices: Poetics and Politics in Robert Hayden’s First ‘Middle Passage.’” African American Review 45.4 (2012): 557–573. Jstor. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.
Analyzes the artistic, thematic and intertextual movements in Hayden’s “Middle Passage.” Like many critics before him, Plasa acknowledges the influence of T.S. Eliot’s “The Wasteland” on Hayden’s innovative poem. He points out that disjointed polyphony, typographical variation and moral disillusion all describe the master works of both Hayden and Eliot. “Doing the Slave Trade in Different Voices” also speculates on the historical narratives that could have informed the composition of “Middle Passage,” especially Hayden’s imagining of the Amistad revolt. Plasa finds evidence to suggest Hayden’s research had been influenced by Muriel Rukeyser’s Willard Gibbs, George Francis Dow’s Slave Ships and Slaving, Stephen Vincent Benêt’s John Brown's Body, and Theodore Canot’s Adventures of an African Slaver.

Plasa’s sharpest reading of “Middle Passage” views it as narration of historical resistance, which makes the poem itself a work of resistance. He states, “‘Middle Passage’ rejects the pyrrhic comfort of a black resistance gained only via the melancholy defiles of suicide (as in section one [of the poem]), and embraces the more sustaining project of a counter-violence aimed squarely at the oppressor” (568). Plasa’s reading complicates previous portrayals (mostly from cultural nationalists) of Hayden as a poet too married to western, ‘white’ literary traditions.

Murphy, Jim. “‘Here Only the Sea Is Real’: Robert Hayden’s Postmodern Passages.” MELUS 27.4 (2002): 107–127. JSTOR. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.
Explores the very complex personality of poet Robert Hayden and investigates  Hayden’s self-exploration through verse. Murphy argues that Hayden’s poetry is both an investigation of his personal identity and an interrogation of black cultural identity. In his reading of Hayden’s “Middle Passage,” Murphy argues Hayden is creating black identity in his imagining of this collective legacy. Murphy sees the complexity of Hayden’s verse as a result of the variety of influences Hayden incorporates, including black culture and the modernist poetics of T.S. Eliot. It is noteworthy that Murphy’s reading implicitly views black culture and modernism as separate from one another.

Murphy also covers Hayden’s encounter with the Black Arts Movement in the early 1970s. The movement promoted strong cultural nationalism and Hayden distanced himself from their agenda. Murphy concludes that the broadminded perspective of black identity articulated in Hayden’s poetry remains largely unexplored, and critical attention to his work is a task to be taken up.

Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1993. Print.
Conducts a manifold interrogation of black vernacular culture in relation to ‘modernity’ in the industrialized world, especially the United States. Gilroy pursues more nuanced understandings of cultural production than essentialists and cultural nationalists are willing to recognizes. While he rejects any view of racial essence, Gilroy’s insights reveal that the unique experience of the black diaspora helped forge the extraordinary social indices of black vernacular culture.

The Black Atlantic is the author’s exploration of black culture in white-dominated society, and his insights shed light on ‘modern’ society at large. Gilroy’s foci of analysis include: the significance of musical styles in black cultural production (he argues hip hop has been seriously under-analyzed by essentialists and anti-essentialists alike), W.E.B. DuBois and double consciousness in the black diaspora, Richard Wright and the social construct of ‘Negro-ness,’ and Toni Morrison and the legacy of racial terror. Written in 1993, Gilroy sought for The Black Atlantic to push toward “the politics of a new century in which the central axis of conflict will no longer be the colour line but the challenge of just, sustainable development and the frontiers which will separate the overdeveloped parts of the world (at home and abroad) from the intractable poverty that already surrounds them” (223).

Dayan, Joan. “Paul Gilroy’s Slaves, Ships, and Routes: The Middle Passage as Metaphor.” Research in African Literatures 27.4 (1996): 7–14. Googlescholar. Web. 14 Feb. 2015.
Joan Dayan blasts Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic on several points. First, Dayan argues his portrayal of slavery is nothing more than a metaphor, and his view of the Middle Passage is frozen in the historical past. Drawing on her work in Arizona prisons, Dayan argues that mass incarceration of young blacks and Latinos makes enslavement, if less obvious, still very much a part of contemporary society. Dayan condemns Gilroy for cleanly sidestepping this issue, as well as his analysis of Frederick Douglass, which ignores the structural limitations of Douglass’s freedom after his emancipation. In addition, Dayan critiques Gilroy’s marginalization of Black Atlantic authors in the Caribbean and his unsophisticated treatment of pre-slave trade Africa. 

Diedrich, Maria, Henry Louis Gates, and Carl Pedersen, eds. Black Imagination and the Middle Passage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. iucat.iu.edu. Web. 23 Feb. 2015. W.E.B. Du Bois Institute.
Including the work of 25 scholars and 3 editors, The Black Imagination and the Middle Passage offers a thorough examination of the Middle Passage as cultural memory in the black diaspora (with particular emphasis on the United States). Sections most relevant to this bibliography include “Introductory Remarks,” “The Slave Ship Dance,” “Landings,” “‘The Persistence of Tradition,’” and “The African American Concept of the Fantastic as Middle Passage.”

The editors present two framing ideas in their introductory remarks. The first is that the African American concept of space began in the Middle Passage. The second draws on Wilson Harris’s argument that the Middle Passage memory cannot be down in the ship’s holds where the enslaved is an emasculated victim. The crucial Middle Passage memory, for Harris, is the limbo dance on the ship decks. In “The Slave Ship Dance,” Geneviève Fabre states that, even if slaves could not escape their captors’ cruelty, the dance in some way allowed them to “imaginatively break the chains and defy traders or captains and their crew” (42). It is lamentable that Fabre overlooks Césaire’s monumental poem, which envisioned in 1939: “And the nigger scum is on its feet// the seated nigger scum/ unexpectedly standing/ standing in the hold/…standing on the deck/ standing in the wind/…standing/ and/ free” (107-8). It is also unfortunate that the editors, in their introductory remarks, dismiss Césaire and Senghor for their essentialism with no consideration of their contributions to black consciousness and to the art of poetry.

These essays explore the Middle Passage as a ‘mythic’ memory over an ethnographic one. Much of the art and literature examined here involve an attempt to give voice to ineffable trauma. “Landings” describes how authors like Robert Hayden and Kamau Brathwaite confronted the specter of the Middle Passage through literature in the 1960s and ‘70s. Other essays highlight the way Toni Morrison’s Beloved conjures past trauma as a means to exorcise it.

DeCosta-Willis, Miriam. “Meditations on History: The Middle Passage in the Afro-Hispanic Literary Imagination.” Afro-Hispanic Review 22.1 (2003): 3–12. Web. 26 Feb. 15.
Surveys representations of the Middle Passage in Afro-Latino literature, starting from The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789). Following this “paradigmatic text,” DeCosta-Willis points out that Afro-Hispanic writers did not address the theme of the Middle Passage until the late twentieth century (3). By then, the author notes, the Middle Passage as historical event had undergone a process of mythification in black cultural memory.

“Meditations on History” analyzes the Middle Passage as a trope in the work of Nancy Morejon, Perez Sarduy, Carlos Guillermo Wilson, and Manuel Zapata Olivella. DeCosta-Willis argues that these authors revise history by fictionalizing slavery and the Middle Passage.

Watson, Sonja Stephenson. “Changó, El Gran Putas: Contemporary Afro-Hispanic Historical Novel.” Afro-Hispanic Review 25.1 (2006): 67–85. Web. 8 Mar. 2015.
Investigates the Afro-Hispanic historical novel (AHHN) with a reading of Manuel Zapata Olivella's Changó, El Gran Putas (1983). Watson reflects on the marginalized presence of Afro-Latinos in Spanish American literature, noting that Afro-Latinos had previously been the object of representation by white or mestizo authors. Watson notes that the Afro-Hispanic historical novel represents a change to Afro-Latinos representing themselves in literature, which she sees as an act of resistance as authors revise the history from which they have been marginalized. Watson attributes this growth in black consciousness (which she dates to the 1960s and ‘70s) to the inspiring “black brothers and sisters in the United States during the socio-political activism of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements” (67). She gives no mention, however, to C.L.R. James, Eric Williams, Aimé Césaire, Derek Walcott, Nancy Morejón or Wilson Harris.

Watson describes Olivella’s novel as a work of ‘afro-realism,’ an aesthetic she identifies (after Quince Duncan) by the following characteristics:  rejection of Eurocentrism, a revival of African symbolic memory based on research, a reaffirmation of ancestral community, and a declaration of an African identity from an insider’s perspective.

3. Confronting the Past
Tibbles, Anthony. “Facing Slavery’s Past: The Bicentenary of the Abolition of the British Slave Trade.” Slavery & Abolition 29.2 (2008): 293–303. Taylor and Francis+NEJM. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.
Examines the historical importance of Britain’s participation in the slave trade, in the context of the Bicentennial of Britain’s abolition of the trade. As activities and events mark this important history, Tibbles examines factors behind the reluctance of many to confront this uncomfortable history. Item not seen.

 MacGonagle, Elizabeth and Kim Warren. “‘How Much for Kunta Kinte?!’ Sites for Memory and Diasporan Encounters in West Africa.” Ed. Beek, W. E. A. van, and A. M Schmidt. African Hosts and Their Guests Cultural Dynamics of Tourism. Oxford: James Currey, 2012. Open WorldCat. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.
Investigates various aspects of African American heritage tourism to sites in West Africa related to the slave trade. The authors show this return pilgrimage is an extremely emotional experience for African Americans searching for the severed roots of their family trees. Aspects of these trips can be disappointing, though, since the historic sites are not always what they expect and tourists are not often received by Africans as they had imagined.

MacGonagle and Warren show Africans feel far less impacted by the history of the slave trade as African Americans. Africans often receive African Americans as foreigners rather than long-lost relatives, and global economic inequalities can be a source of resentment between the two groups. African governments and locals do not mind taking advantage of African Americans yearning to reconstruct their pasts, although tour guides tend to be more sensitive to the ‘return’ experience.
An important aspect for this bibliography is when MacGonagle and Warren explore how African Americans are often disappointed by DNA testing, which often cannot pinpoint one’s lineage to a distinct region or ethnic group in Africa. This response from African Americans reflects the value they place on ‘pure’ and direct links to their African rather than the New World creolité that Eduard Glissant theorizes. 

Halloran, Vivian Nun. Exhibiting Slavery : The Caribbean Postmodern Novel as Museum. Charlottesville : University of Virginia Press, 2009. Print.
With readings of several postmodern Caribbean novels, Halloran argues literature can function as a virtual museum for readers to explore the legacy of slavery. The author interprets images and objects in these novels as artifacts curated by the authors. The most relevant aspect for my project is Halloran’s analysis of UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Elmina Castle in Ghana. Halloran questions the motivations behind Ghana’s decision to promote heritage tourism for African Americans.

 Hartman, Saidiya V. Lose Your Mother : A Journey along the Atlantic Slave Route. New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.
Hartman interrogates the resonance of slavery in contemporary society by narrating her travels to West Africa. Hartman’s memoir gives an intimate portrait of slavery’s legacy by tracing the slave route in reverse. She personalize the rupture that the slave trade effected on African Americans by recognizing the irretrievability of her genealogical links to Africa. Visiting Elmina Castle, Hartman lends a critical eye on the industry of Ghana’s heritage tourism. Item not seen.

Mbembé, Achille. “African Modes of Self-Writing.” Identity, Culture and Politics 2.2 (2002): 239–73. GoogleScholar. Web. 28 May 2014.
Critiques how African authors have represented the continent. The most relevant aspect for this bibliography is Mbembe’s argument that the memories of slavery, colonization and apartheid create a “cult of victimization” in the African consciousness (5). These memories affect the present when, as Mbembe claims, it creates the idea that “Africa is not responsible for the catastrophes that are befalling it.”

Nganang, Patrice. 2007. Manifeste d’une nouvelle littérature africaine: Pour une littérature préemptive. Paris, France:  Homnispheres.
Advances Mbembe’s critique by examining different types of African writing that dwells on past trauma, and thereby perpetuates a paradigm of victimhood. Nganang’s main argument calls for preemptive writing to prevent future catastrophes rather than obsessing on past disasters.

———.  “Necessary Doubt.” African Writing Online 7, (July 25, 2008), Web.  28 Apr. 2014).
This speech delivered in Kigali, Rwanda presents the central argument of Manifeste d’une nouvelle littérature africaine for an English-speaking audience. Again building on Mbembe’s thesis, Nganang stresses that writing that dwells on past trauma inflicted by foreigners was no longer possible after the Rwandan genocide. The continent, he argues, must hold itself accountable and determine its future by preempting future violence. The new African writing he envisions would contribute to that sea change.

U.S. News & World Report Travel. “Anse Cafard Slave Memorial.” U.S. News & World Report Travel n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.
Ranks Anse Cafard Slave Memorial as the top place to visit in Martinique, and summarizes the history of the disaster that inspired the memorial. This short article describes what tourists will find at Anse Cafard and how long they should plan to spend (a half-day).

Shadid, Salim. “Uncommon Attraction: Anse Cafard Slave Memorial, Martinique.” Uncommon Caribbean 11 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.
Describes the history of the slave ship that sunk in 1830, and the inspiration to construct a memorial for the 150th anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the French West Indies. Shadid details how the 20, eight-foot tall effigies are organized in a triangle to allude to the triangular slave trade, and the statues lean at 110 degrees to point at the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. The author promises prospective tourists an extremely moving experience.

Tamuno, Tekena N. Oil Wars in the Niger Delta 1849-2009. Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria: Stirling-Horden Publishers Ltd, 2011. Print.
Tamuno’s history focuses mainly on the violent economics of petroleum extraction in the Niger Delta, an issue that has shaped and continues to shape life in Nigeria. The aspect of Oil Wars relevant to this bibliography is the historical precedents Tamuno relies on for his study. Nigeria’s oil economy involves internal exploitation of minority ethnicities in Nigeria, with multinational corporations (based in Britain, Holland, the US, France and Italy) running the extraction process (and reaping 40% of the profits). For Tamuno, this dynamic evokes an earlier function of international capitalism that affected the Niger Delta. The Niger Delta, he reminds readers, is part of what was once the notorious ‘Slave Coast.’ The author frames his analysis of Nigeria’s petroleum wars in the historical legacy of “[t]he inhuman trade in slaves featured largely in the ancient economy of the communities along the Bights of Benin and Biafra (later Bonny)” (1).

Soyinka, Wole. 2012. Of Africa. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Print.
Contemplates the significance of the landmass pejoratively labeled the ‘Dark Continent.’ As he sets out to explore Africa’s past and present in an international context, Soyinka argues: “All claims that Africa has been explored are as premature as news of her imminent demise. A truly illuminating exploration of Africa has yet to take place” (xiii).
Part I (Chapters 1-4) is most significant to this bibliography, which contains several images of historical sites of the West African slave trade. Descriptions of neglected slave forts on the West African coast, for example, trigger the author’s reflections on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, the trans-Sahara slave trade and present-day trafficking of slave labor. Soyinka argues that if the continent’s past does not cause present despots and warlords reason to pause and reflect, “then Africa has ceased to matter” (66).

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Roots and Representations of the Niger Delta Crisis: A Selective Bibliography

Michael Montesano
 
         Introduction:
Writers, Scholars and Journalists Research and Debate the Origins, Dynamics and Possible Solutions of Militant-Military Conflict in the 2000s

            Despite the complex issues and interests in Nigeria’s oil economy, the bottom line is abundantly clear:  multinational oil companies (Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Texaco, Elf, Agip and Phillips) and Nigeria’s federal government (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation - NNPC) have made billions from the Niger Delta’s oil while the people of the Delta have endured marginalization, extreme poverty, chronic underdevelopment and loss of livelihood from environmental degradation (HRW, 1999). Our main interest in this bibliography is the point at which this exploitation got so extreme that groups in the Niger Delta - with no outlet to peaceful resistance - resorted to violent protest. Part of this focus includes an analysis of media representations of the conflict, which contributed to or hindered its resolution. In order to understand the moment in the 2000s when armed youths turned to violent resistance, we must first investigate the history of political and economic exclusion of Niger Delta communities. I have sought to include the broadest range of perspectives possible in researching this history, including books, article and films from Nigerian writers, scholars and activists; foreign scholars, journalists and filmmakers; multinational oil companies; and environmental and human rights groups.
            In Curse of the Black Gold Movie (2008b), Ed Kashi summarizes the history of marginalization of the Niger Delta’s South-South states:  “Nigeria’s oil brings in over $180 million every day. While the majority of Niger Deltans live on just $1 per day.” “Since 1960,” the film continues, “Nigeria has made $600 billion in oil revenues” while the Niger Delta lacks basic infrastructure like “water to drink, sanitation [and] public education.” Nigeria’s kleptocrats have stolen vast amounts of the country’s oil profits (Kashi, 2008b; Peel, 2009) and much of the rest has gone to develop other states outside the South-South (Tamuno, 2011). Ethnic elitism within the Delta has kept the little money going to the region from benefitting its people (Kashi, 2008b; Tamuno, 2011).
            Ethnicity has played a fundamental role in the politics of the region of West Africa that became Nigeria (Clark-Bekederemo, 2000), and nowhere is this more evident than in the Niger Delta. Tekena N. Tamuno (2011) anchors the history of ethnic division in Nigeria with the context of the West African slave trade, in which some ethnicities hunted others and sold them into slavery. C. Magbaily Fyle (1999) documents the tremendously destabilizing effect the slave trade had on West Africa, which polarized inter-ethnic relations and urged union and consolidation within the same ethnicity. In the Niger Delta, Tamuno (2011) shows these dynamics reappeared during the palm oil trade and continue today in the oil economy. Tamuno finds “the rest of Nigeria” has benefitted from the revenue of the Niger Delta’s oil to the exclusion of minority ethnicities in the South-South. The ethnic union and consolidation Fyle describes took place in the Futa Toro region of modern-day Senegal when the Islamist group united in opposition to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Ike Okonta (2008) finds a similar dynamic of social consolidation in Nigeria when the previously scattered Ogoni people united in opposition to environmental, social and political exploitation.
            Press releases from the oil companies put a clean face on their Nigeria operations (Shell, 2011; Chevron, 2012; ExxonMobil, n.d.), but evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Spill-related environmental degradation causes devastating harm to the health of host communities (Kashi, 2008a, 2008b; Johansson, 2008; Nossiter, 2010; UNEP, 2011; Amnesty International, 2011; The True Cost of Chevron Network, 2011). Lars Johansson’s Poison Fire (2008) estimates “5,000 major oil spills” have leaked into the Delta between 1958 and 2008, totaling “one and a half million tons of oil” (45). Johansson’s film emphasizes the impact of gas flares on nearby populations, a hazard Nnimmo Bassey (2011) links to female “infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer and skin rashes.” And since ecological disaster means loss of livelihood for this largely farming and fishing population, oil pollution eliminates their capacity to sustain themselves in spite of underdevelopment (Manby, 1999; Amnesty International, 2011; UNEP, 2011). In Kashi’s film (2008b), Chief Inengite observes,  “People are dying every day because of oil exploration.”
            Notwithstanding Shell and Chevron’s stated commitment to the health and stability of their host communities, journalists and experts like Chijoke Evoh (2002a, 2002b) and independent contractor Ernest Azudialu (2011) argue the aforementioned hazards are largely preventable. Evoh juxtaposes Nigeria’s experience with Canada’s oil industry, which burns 8% of its excess gas through flaring. By comparison, the  waste of 75% of extracted gas in Nigeria is exorbitant. Additionally, independent contractor Ernest Azudialu observes in a leaked US government cable that oil spills and blowouts in Nigeria are largely due to company neglect. Azudialu states, “73 percent of all pipelines there are more than a decade overdue for replacement. In many cases, pipelines with a technical life of 15 years are still in use thirty years after installation.” The discoveries of Evoh (2002a) and Azudialu (2011) show oil companies could greatly reduce pollution through infrastructure investment, but Evoh (2002b) believes “the modus operandi of multinational corporations in the less developed parts of the world” is to avoid these investments no matter the cost. Evoh faults the Nigerian government and the NNPC for not obligating these companies to do the right thing (2002a, 2002b).
            Given the oil economy’s myriad abuses in Nigeria, it is not surprising that citizens would protest. Writers and scholars like Terisa E. Turner (1994), Jennifer M. Hazen and Jonas Horner (2007), Ike Okonta (2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2008), Shadi Bushra (2009), Elias Courson (2009) and Adegboyega Isaac Ajayi and Adesola S. Adesote (2013) document the forms of protest across decades of resistance in Nigeria. Okonta (2006a, 2006b, 2006c), Bushra (2009), Courson (2009) and Ajayi and Adesote (2013) find wide-scale, organized militancy had not manifested until the 2000s when popular sentiment began to see peaceful resistance as ineffective. General Sani Abacha’s violent suppression of peaceful resistance in the 1990s - namely the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) - proved paramount in fostering this sentiment (Ibeanu 2000; Vaughan 2011). Okonta (2006b) and Watts (2007) find truth in this popular belief since it was only when groups took up arms that the oil companies and Nigeria’s government began to talk peace (Kashi, 2008b). Until then, companies had the “martial policy” of buying arms for the government to suppress protest at the same time they promised resolution (Okonta, 2006a).
            The above representations of armed militancy provide well-researched  analyses of the Niger Delta crisis. The authors base their scrutiny on field research and scholarly investigation. Lesser-informed literature has come from scholars like Paul Collier (2007). In his book The Bottom Billion:  Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done about It, Collier examines the Niger Delta crisis very briefly and concludes, “grievance has evolved, over a decade, into greed” (31). Collier bases his claim on no field research or scholarly inquiry. Michael Watts (2007) and Elias Courson (2009), on the other hand, write thoroughly-researched rebukes of Collier’s position. The illegal militant activity Collier cites like kidnapping for ransom is indeed true (Okonta, 2006a), as well as oil bunkering (Asuni, 2009; Malina, n.d.) and sabotage (Nossiter, 2010), but Courson (2009), Watts (2007)  and Bushra (2009) argue militant groups like the Movement for the Survival of the Niger Delta (MEND) acted on longstanding grievance and clearer ideology than Collier gives credit. Moreover, Bushra (2009) claims oversimplification and kneejerk dismissal of community claims is what drove some to militancy in the first place. Hazen and Horner (2007) survey media representations of violence in Nigeria and characterize groups like MEND as “freedom fighters and political agitators” (508).  Kashi (2008a, 2008b) and Okonta (2006a, 2006b, 2006c) strive to understand the Niger Delta crisis through the perspective of the Niger Delta’s militants. Literature has also depicted the Delta experience in a compassionate light. Nigerian poets, playwrights and novelists J.P. Clark-Bekederemo (2000), Tanure Ojaide (1990, 2006) Ogaga Ifowodo (2005), Helon Habila (2010) and Ahmed Yerima (2011) have all rendered sensitive portrayals of the Niger Delta experience.
            When the militant-military conflict was most intense, it was the aforementioned scholars, writers and journalists - in Nigeria and abroad - who helped bring understanding to the crisis. When Jeffrey Tayler (2006) forewarned a US military intervention in the “failed state” of Nigeria,  Okonta repudiated Tayler’s suggestion, arguing there is “nothing inevitable” about the situation (2006c). Courson (2009) joins Okonta’s challenge to the “resource curse” hypothesis, stating there is nothing inherently cursed about natural resources, instead the “absence of political and economic development [is] the root cause of conflicts in the African continent” (11).
            National and international periodicals - Vanguard News, The Guardian (Nigeria), ThisDay Live, Premium News Nigeria, Reuters and The Guardian (UK) - also played a crucial role in opening the dialogue between Nigeria’s government, foreign oil companies and the Nigerian people. In Nigeria especially, newspapers published guest articles, interviews and speeches from various figures within the militant-government engagement. Vanguard News, for example, transcribed Peace Ambassador Omolubi Newuwumi’s blueprint for resolution of the Niger Delta crisis (19 June 2009), interviewed militant leader Ateke Tom and published his “five-point agenda for peace” (20 June 2009) and printed President Yar’Adua’s speech (25 June 2009) offering unconditional amnesty for militant youths on the condition they surrender, forfeit their arms and renounce militancy by 4 October 2009.
            In the time since the 20,000 Delta militants agreed to Yar’Adua’s amnesty, journalists and scholars continue to play an important role in maintaining the dialogue necessary for peace. Following amnesty, scholars and journalists (Onoyume, 2009; Oluwaniyi, 2010; Ajayi and Adesote, 2013) continue to urge reformed militants and Nigeria’s government to give peace a chance. Oluwaniyi (2010), Ajayi and Adesote (2013), and Tamuno (2011) stress that amnesty’s success requires President Goodluck Jonathan - Yar’Adua’s successor - to continue its full implementation. They emphasize that amnesty was the first phase of the agreement and the second phase must include psychological and social rehabilitation of former militants, rapid socio-economic development and more job opportunities.
            Current developments in Nigeria raise pressing questions about the motivation behind the government’s 2009 peace efforts. Shortly after relative peace came to the South-South, Boko Haram terrorists mobilized in the north. President Jonathan has refused to talk with the “shadowy” group even while moderate members allegedly offer dialogue (Reuters, 2012). We must ask ourselves if this have anything to do with the fact that the north has no oil. At the height of the Niger Delta crisis, Ed Kashi claimed MEND “forced oil companies to stop pumping 475,000 barrels a day” (Curse of the Black Gold movie, 2008). Knowing this, how should we view government peace efforts in 2009? Was the amnesty effort interested in real peace for Nigeria, or were kleptocrats more concerned with placating militants to get back to oil profiteering? During the peace process, Murray (2007) and Hazen and Horner (2007) express belief in the sincerity of Yar’Adua’s peace proceedings, but Jonathan’s position as Vice-President is less clear. His presidency following Yar’Adua’s death has shown mixed signals thus far. Journalism and scholarship has been as crucial in reporting and interpreting those signals as it was in debating the Niger Delta crisis. As Africa’s most populous nation endeavors toward inclusive democracy, we have seen the influential role - positive and negative - that national and international scholars, journalists and activists can play in staging the discourse necessary for peace and stability. Their work, as this bibliography seeks to show, must continue.



Bibiliography:
A (Very) Brief Historical Background of Oil in the Niger Delta
Tamuno, Tekena N. Oil Wars in the Niger Delta 1849-2009. Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria: Stirling-Horden Publishers Ltd, 2011. Print.
Conducts a study of the Niger Delta’s history in the contexts of the West African slave trade, followed by the palm oil trade and later petroleum extraction. The example of the slave trade demonstrates the history of abuse in the Niger Delta goes back farther than the discovery of petroleum in 1956.
Tamuno pays special attention to “The Great Debate” over oil revenue allocation, arguing that Nigeria’s federal government and “the-rest-of-Nigeria” have benefited from the internal exploitation of minority ethnicities in the Niger Delta. The author studies this “Great Debate,” as well as the crisis and resolution of militant-military violence in the 2000s, through excerpts from speeches and articles by various figures from different perspectives.
Clark-Bekederemo, J.P. All for oil. Ikeja, Nigeria : Oxford: Malthouse, 2000. Print.
Set in the early 20th century, the play begins and ends by pondering this curious new thing called Nigeria. The historical context is Britain’s establishment of the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914. Clark-Bekederemo’s “history” play demonstrates peaceful coexistence was always a great challenge for the hundreds of Nigeria’s ethnicities. Corruption in the palm oil trade shows inter-ethnic exploitation has a long history in the country.
Tamuno, Tekena N. Stakeholders at War in Nigeria: From Lord Lugard to President Goodluck Jonathan. Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria: Stirling-Horden Publishers, 2012. Print.
Intended as the complement to Oil Wars, Stakeholders at War documents the history of feuding stakeholders in the Republic of Nigeria. Tamuno uses the term stakeholders in the sense that all individuals, ethnic groups, political parties or other organizations hold a stake in the share of Nigeria’s oil revenue. The book focuses on the religious and ethnic divisions that undermine the country’s potential. Item not seen.
Okonta, Ike. When Citizens Revolt: Nigerian Elites, Big Oil, and the Ogoni Struggle for Self-Determination. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2008. Print.
Through a thorough case study of the Ogoni crisis, Okonta draws broader implications on questions of ethnicity and oil in Nigeria. The author claims the Ogoni were a dispersed people before British colonialism, and it was the exclusion of the Ogoni - to the benefit of larger ethnicities - that fomented the group’s unification both in colonial and contemporary times. Similarly, exploitation by Nigeria’s federal government was a unifying factor that led to the formation of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP).
Okonta’s analysis of indirect rule in the colonial era, in which some groups benefited by ruling over other peoples while deferring to the British crown, parallels Tamuno’s idea of “the rest of Nigeria” profiting from the marginalization of minority ethnicities in deference to the multinational oil industry.
Fyle, C. Magbaily. Introduction to the History of African civilization. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1999. Print.
Surveys pre-colonial African history and the transatlantic slave trade up to the 20th century. The part most pertinent to my research is the history of ethnic or “racial” divisiveness and inter-ethnic exploitation, particularly in regards to the slave trade. Fyle describes the European sale of arms to “African societies,” who made war with neighboring groups and sold prisoners of war into slavery. Fyle finds the proliferation of arms and trade-related conflicts caused “tremendous insecurity” in affected areas (126).
The exploitative slave trade, Fyle demonstrates, provoked extreme ethnic divisiveness in some cases, while in other instances ethnic or religious unity helped individuals protect themselves and their interests. These dynamics establish a precedent for the ethno-political developments Tamuno and Okonta describe.
Dibua, J.I. “Citizenship and Resource Control in Nigeria: The Case of Minority Communities in the Niger Delta.” Africa Spectrum, 40.1 (2005):  5-28. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.
Analyzes three types of citizenship (constitutional, ethnic and diasporic) in the context of the Niger Delta. The author shows the government’s denial of real constitutional citizenship for minority ethnicities in the Niger Delta has led to increased emphasis on ethnic citizenship. Ethnic loyalty, Dibua argues, became the unifying factor for militant groups in the 2000s.
To avoid greater militarization, Dibua calls for greater allocation of revenue to the Niger Delta states with the proper political and communal institutions to fairly appropriate that revenue.




Environmental Degradation, Political Marginalization, Corruption and Repression
Okonta, Ike and Oronto Douglas. Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights, and Oil in the Niger Delta. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 2001. Print.
Offers a comprehensive exposé of Nigeria’s petroleum industry. The authors show reckless practices by multinationals - mainly Shell but also Mobil, Chevron, Texaco, Elf and Agip - have led to widespread pollution of the impoverished Niger Delta. They also illustrate the decades-long succession of corrupt, often violently repressive governments has reaped 55% of the oil profits while ignoring the contamination and severe underdevelopment of the region that generates those profits.
Okonta and Douglas provide extensive evidence the petroleum companies in the Niger Delta have routinely violated national, international and even their own standards without interruption from corrupt politicians. Excluding Niger Delta communities from Nigerian politics has facilitated these abuses over decades and the authors argue for citizen activism and political mobilization to force real change in Nigeria.
Manby, Bronwen. The Price of Oil:  Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria’s Oil Producing Communities. Human Rights Watch, 1999: 1-193. Web. 17 Mar. 2012. 
Provides comprehensive documentation of the corporate and government abuse of the rights of Niger Delta citizens and their environment. Of particular interest to me are the sections “The Environment,” “Oil Companies and the Oil Producing Communities,” “Protest and Repression in the Niger Delta” and “The Role of the International Community.”
In these sections, Manby details the sequence of decrees that wrested resource control out of the hands of the oil producing communities, the rise of protest and the brutal suppression of protest in the 1990s. The author finds evidence Shell solicited the Abacha regime to suppress MOSOP protesters, which it did brutally. The report also surveys the channels of national and international law available to resolving the situation. No resolution, Manby concludes, can come without the consultation and inclusion of the Niger Delta oil producing communities.
Peel, Michael. A Swamp Full of Dollars: Pipelines and Paramilitaries at Nigeria’s Oil Frontier. London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2009. Print.
Examines the economic realities behind Nigeria’s oil industry, including an investigation of Shell’s role in the Biafran War. Peel finds the oil companies (then Shell-BP) pressured the British government to back Nigeria’s federal army in order to protect oil installations. The author quotes a June 1968 memo of a British official who said he “received a call from a Shell executive to say that the company felt that supplying arms to Nigeria was ‘absolutely right’” (54).
Peel also covers the Geneva lawyer Enrico Monfrini’s case against a host of international banks - “Britain’s HSBC, Barclays and NatWest; Merrill Lynch International Bank and Citibank of the USA; Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank of Germany; BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole Indosuez of France; and Credit Suisse First Boston and Union Bancaire Privée of Switzerland - that helped the Abacha regime rob at least $1.3 billion from Nigeria’s government (125).
Shell Companies in Nigeria. “Shell in Nigeria:  Environmental Performance-Oil Spills.” www.shellnigeria.com. Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited and Shell Nigeria Gas Limited, April 2011. Web 17 Mar. 2014.
Proclaims the company’s commitment to preventing and cleaning up oil spills in Nigeria. The report claims an average of 75% of all oil spills are the result of third-party interference. To prevent the high number of spills (169 per year in 2006-2011), the company points to its “programme to make it more difficult to tamper with more than 100 wells in Ogoniland.” 
“Unless effective action is taken against the widespread sabotage,” however, Shell believes its efforts will have limited impact. The report emphasizes the company’s adherence to “global Shell Group standards and those of the International Standards Organisation (ISO),” citing 448 kilometers of pipeline replaced in 2009-2010. The main thing preventing Shell’s effective cleanup of spills, the company alleges, are “community groups and armed gangs” who prevent the company’s access to spill sites.
Nossiter, Adam. “Far From Gulf, a Spill Scourge 5 Decades Old.” The New York Times 16 June 2010: n.pag. Web. 20 Oct. 2014.
Drawing on the current events of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, Nossiter calls attention to the long history of spills in the Niger Delta, citing pipeline failure, more than sabotage, as a frequent cause.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland. Nairobi:  United Nations Environment Programme, 2011. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.
Reports the findings of scientific field research on the impact of oil spills in the Ogoni region of the Niger Delta. The chapters most relevant to my study are “Back ground to Environmental Degradation in Ogoniland” and “Recommendations for Environmental Management in Ogoniland.”
Some of UNEP’s recommendations include:  proper maintenance of oil facilities,  dialogue with the Ogoni people, increasing efforts to end illegal oil-related activity and improving company response to oil spills. The report also offers extensive technical advice how to rehabilitate contaminated regions, calling for Shell and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to fund the “’Environmental Restoration Fund for Ogoniland’, with initial capital of USD 1 billion” (226).
Amnesty International. “The True ‘Tragedy:’ Delays and Failures in Tackling Oil Spills in the Niger Delta.” London:  Amnesty International Ltd., 2011:  1-50. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
Conducts a case study of two 2008 oil spills - both caused by Shell-Nigeria (SPDC) pipeline failure - in Bodo, Ogoniland. Amnesty argues these spills, both of which went on for 10 weeks, are symptomatic of Shell’s inexcusable disregard for the people and environment of the Niger Delta.
Environmental Rights Action. “No to Corporate Rule:  Support the Kyoto Protocol.” Benin City, Nigeria:  Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, 11 July 2001:  n.pag. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.
Calls for July 11th to become the “ExxonMobil/Esso International Day of Action” in condemnation of the company’s misconduct in Nigeria and worldwide. The press briefing highlights the January 1998 spill at the Idoho Platform in Akwa Ibom State, which “spewed over 40,000 barrel[s] of crude into rivers, creeks and farmlands.”
The briefing claims peaceful protest to Exxon/Mobil’s “neo-liberal policies” have met violent repression by Nigeria’s police. ERA/FoEN further alleges the Bush administration’s rejection of the Kyoto protocol is in service to the “$25 million the oil industry, led by ExxonMobil, contributed to the Republicans.”
ExxonMobil, “Learn about Energy Efficiency at ExxonMobil.” ExxonMobil, n.d.: n.pag. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.
Points to its strategies to improve energy efficiency at ExxonMobil, which includes the reduction in flaring, the reduction of steam consumption, “high-efficiency heating and cooling systems, and lighting and motion sensors.”
In 10 years (2002 to 2012), the company “improved energy efficiency by approximately 10 percent in refining and 12 percent in chemical manufacturing.”
---. “Environmental Performance - Spill Performance.” ExxonMobil, n.d.: n. pag. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.
Explains spill prevention as a top priority in assessing potential impacts of company activity. The company reports 1,291 spills not from marine vessels from 2009-2012.
Chevron. “2012 Corporate Responsibility Report.” Chevron, 2012: 1-48. Web. 5 Apr. 2014.
Emphasizes its commitment to mitigate the risks inherent to the industry. Equally valuable to them is the benefit and stability of the countries and communities in which they operate. CEO John S. Watson underlines that more than 85% of employees in Kazakhstan, Angola and Nigeria are nationals.
The report includes sections specifically on company operations in Angola, Kazakhstan, Bangladesh, Australia, and the Gulf of Mexico but not Nigeria.
The True Cost of Chevron Network. “The True Cost of Chevron:  An Alternative Annual Report.” EarthRights International May 2011: 1-62. Web. 6 Apr. 2014.
Covers Chevron’s corporate malfeasance in 20 of its operations sites across the globe. Featuring essays from scientists and political, social and environmental activists, “The True Cost of Chevron” exposes the company’s abuse on 5 continents.
Nnimmo Bassey’s essay highlights Chevron’s misconduct in Nigeria, which includes oil “leaks, waste discharges and the illegal and immoral practice of gas flaring” (45). The report emphasizes that gas flaring has always been illegal in Nigeria, and despite repeated committals by Chevron to end the practice, the company continued flaring its gas through the date of publication. Emem Okon, a Niger Delta women’s rights activist, relates flaring to female “infertility, early menopause, miscarriages, cancer and skin rashes.”
Bassey also highlights that Chevron “paid, transported, fed, housed and supervised the JTF” during the attacks on peaceful protests in Ugborodo and Parabe. It is in the shareholders’ interest, the author argues, for the company to act responsibly.
Evoh, Chijoke. “Gas Flares, Oil Companies and Politics in Nigeria.” The Guardian (Lagos) 18 Feb. 2002a:  n. pag. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Investigates the practice of gas flaring in Nigeria, which the author opines is wasteful and reckless. Evoh criticizes Nigeria’s government for not forcing companies to stop flaring in the interest of the health of the people and the environment.
Johansson, Lars. Poison Fire:  Gas and Oil Abuse in Nigeria. Maweni Farm, 2008. Film.
Documents the devastation that “5,000 major oil spills [and]…one and a half million tons of [spilled] oil” has caused for the Niger Delta ecosystem and the people who depend on it.
The film interviews many activists, doctors and rights groups fighting to end gas flaring. Many individuals advocate stopping oil operations completely.
Bassey, Nnimmo. To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and Climate Crisis in Africa. Fahamu/Pambazuka, 2012. Print.
Exposes the detrimental impact of various extractive industries in Africa, including oil in the Niger Delta, precious minerals in DRC, diamonds in Zimbabwe and Sierra Leone, oil in South Sudan/Darfur and gold in South Africa. Bassey dedicates much analysis to the oil industry in Nigeria, insisting it is the people of the Niger Delta who have the ultimate authority over what takes place on their land.
In order to really combat climate change, Bassey argues, “We must simply leave the oil in the soil, the coal in the hole and the tar sands in the land (117).”
Evoh, Chijoke. “Gas Flares, Oil Companies and Politics in Nigeria.” The Guardian (Lagos) 19 Feb. 2002b:  n. pag. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Criticizes the oil companies for not taking initiative to end gas flaring or reduce it “to its barest minimum.” The author finds, however, that companies would rather avoid financial investments in Nigeria and calls this “the modus operandi of multinational corporations in the less developed parts of the world.”
Evoh observes the environmental abuse in Nigeria is rare in industrial countries and proposes political reforms to force companies to behave responsibly as they would in industrial countries.
United States Embassy in Abuja. “Nigeria: Pipeline Expert Says 73 Percent Of Niger Delta Pipelines Need Replacement, Cause Spills.” Wikileaks 25 Aug 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Summarizes the conclusions of Ernest Azudialu, President of the oil services company Nestoil. Azudialu states Niger Delta fishermen and farmers have been robbed of their livelihoods due to widespread pollution as the result of frequent oil spills. He connects the frequency of spills to neglect, estimating:  “73 percent of all pipelines there are more than a decade overdue for replacement. In many cases, pipelines with a technical life of 15 years are still in use thirty years after installation.”
Azudialu’s recommendation, the cable concludes, is the Federal government “grant contracts directly to credible companies rather than funneling money through the state and local governments.”
Ojaide, Tanure. The Fate of Vultures & Other Poems. Lagos: Malthouse Press Ltd, 1990. Print. Malthouse African Poetry Series.
Poems responding to what Ojaide sees as the ruination of Nigeria by corrupt and repressive police and politicians.
In the midst of calamity and hardship, Ojaide illuminates subtle dignity in the people his poems portray.

Popular Protest, the Rise of Militancy and Representations in the Media:  1990s-2000s

Turner, Terisa E., and Bryan J. Ferguson, eds. Arise Ye Mighty People!: Gender, Class, and Race in Popular Struggles. Trenton, N.J: Africa World Press, 1994. Print.
Examines the global relationships in exploitative industries and the popular resistance that opposes it. Turner looks beyond the global power scheme “between the rich north and the poor south” and starts thinking about “the north in the south and the south in the north” (2).
Gender and class solidarity in popular struggles, for Turner, is the best means to fight exploitation.
Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP). “Ogoni Bill of Rights.” Saros International Publishers, 1992. www.mosop.org. Web 9 Feb. 2014.
Declares the Ogoni people a distinct ethnic group subjected to genocide by multinational oil companies under the supervision of the Nigerian government. Among their list of grievances, MOSOP lists dangerous emissions from gas flares, political marginalization, underdevelopment and loss of livelihood due to environmental degradation.
This influential document, originally presented in 1990, demands political autonomy, Ogoni control of Ogoni land, representation in governmental affairs and the protection of Ogoni language, culture, religion and environment.
The Ijaw Ethnic Nationality in the Niger Delta (MOSIEND) and the Movement for the Restoration of Ogbia (MORETO) later drafted similar documents claiming their rights.
Ifowodo, Ogaga. The Oil Lamp. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2005. Print.
Poems that highlight the sense of hope at the discovery of oil in Nigeria, and the bitter disillusion that quickly set in. Ifowodo dedicates entire sections to incidents like the 1999 Jese pipeline explosion, the 1999 Odi massacre, the persecution of Ogoni protesters in the 1990s and the executions of the Ogoni 9.
The Center for Constitutional Rights and EarthRights International. “Settlement Reached in Human Rights Cases Against Royal Dutch/Shell.” The Center for Constitutional Rights and EarthRights International 8 June 2009. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.
Reports on the $15.5 million settlement between Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC or Shell Nigeria) and the surviving family members of the Ogoni 9. In relation to the Nigerian government’s violent suppression of Ogoni protest in the 1990s, the plaintiffs alleged Shell made payments to Nigeria’s government in “complicity in extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity, torture, and other human rights claims.”
Human rights lawyer Paul Hoffman calls the case “a first step towards the resolution of still outstanding issues between Shell and the Ogoni people.” The awarded plaintiffs pledged to establish the Kiisi Trust with the settlement - Kiisi means progress in Ogoni. The trust’s priority, the plaintiffs explain, would go to support “educational endowments, skills development, agricultural development, women’s programs, small enterprise support, and adult literacy.”
Vaughan, Adam. “Oil in Nigeria: a history of spills, fines and fights for rights.” The Guardian US (New York): 4 August 2011. Web. 18 Mar. 2014.
Reflecting on the history of 7,000 oil spills between 1970 and 2000, Vaughan shows the record of environmental degradation in the Niger Delta. The author observes the increase of militant activity - which includes sabotaging pipelines - exacerbated the ecological damage in the 21st century. According to Shell’s estimates, “14,000 tonnes of crude oil” spilled from its pipelines and into “the creeks of the Niger delta in 2009,” which is twice that of 2008 and quadruple 2007’s figures.
The article also points to Shell’s alleged collaboration with the Nigerian government in the violent suppression of MOSOP protesters and the hanging of the Ogoni 9. The author views the rise of Delta militancy as a response to these abuses.
Okonta, Ike. “MEND: Anatomy of a Peoples’ Militia.” Pambazuka News 2 November 2006b: n.pag. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
Describes the history of civil resistance in the Niger Delta, which eventually manifested in the formation of MEND. The article outlines how protest in the Niger Delta had always vacillated between violent and non-violent means. Okonta cites non-violent groups in the early 1990s - Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Movement for the Survival of Ijaw Ethnic Nationality (MOSSIEND), Movement for Reparations to Ogbia (MORETO) - and contrasts those with militant groups that protested worsening economic conditions and Babangida’s annulment of the 1993 election - Odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Arewa Peoples Congress (APC) and Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Sani Abacha’s vehement persecution of unrest, the article shows, only suppressed things until a return to democracy led politicians to hire armed youths for voter intimidation. The author illustrates how oil companies and Nigeria’s government did not start talking peace negotiations until MEND took up arms. Until then, Okonta alleges, companies had the “martial policy” of buying arms for the military to suppress peaceful protest.
Ibeanu, Okechukwu. “Oiling the Friction: Environmental Conflict Management in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.” Environmental Change and Security Project Report 6 (2000): 19–32. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
Records violent clashes between Nigeria’s government and Delta communities, citing Abacha’s suppression of MOSOP protesters in the 1990s, the Ijaw Egbesu wars (1997-1999) and the Odi Massacre (1999). Ibeanu describes a “strong-weak” antagonism, in which the strong (the government) has the power to achieve peaceful resolution with, instead of violent suppression of, the weak (Delta communities).
He makes an interesting point that the Nigerian government is weak compared to the stronger oil companies and their home governments in the “developed world.”
Okonta, Ike. “Niger Delta:  Restoring the Rights of Citizens.” Pambazuka News 9 November 2006c:  n.pag.  Web. 2 March 2014.
Documents the shifting positions of oil company executives from “‘peace and dialogue’” in 2005 to a “‘return to the warpath’” in 2006. Okonta suggests company rhetoric, mainly Shell’s, was always half-hearted at best.  “At the same time company officials…favoured dialogue,” he emphasizes, “they readied their military option.”
Additionally, the author accuses western journalists like Jeffrey Tayler of bolstering hawkish positions (Tayler, 2006) by declaring Nigeria a “failed state.” According to Okonta, Tayler’s article, effectively justifies US military intervention. Contrary to Tayler’s language of “failed state” and “resource curse,” Okonta argues there is “nothing inevitable” about situations like the Niger Delta’s and properly understanding popular manifestations like MEND is imperative to resolving the conflict and solving the problems at its root.
Tayler, Jeffrey. “Worse Than Iraq?” The Atlantic 1 April 2006:  n.pag. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
Accurately details problems facing Nigeria in 2006, interpreting these facts as potential justification for a US “military intervention far more massive than the Iraqi campaign.” Juxtaposed with Tayler’s portrayal of Nigeria as a failed state, the author repeatedly mentions the oil wealth so valuable to US “national security.”
Maier, Karl. “Shell ‘Feeds’ Nigeria Conflict, May End Onshore Work.” Bloomberg 10 June 2004:  n.pag. Web. 2 Mar. 2014.
Reports on the revelations of a Shell-funded WAC Global Services study released December 2003. The report, Maier highlights, found Shell has a destabilizing effect on its host communities in Nigeria and corrupt employees “have collaborated with local criminals to sabotage company facilities so they can receive part of the compensation payments that Shell makes.”
Ojaide, Tanure. The Activist. Lagos: Farafina, 2006. Print.
This wide-reaching novel, set in the Niger Delta, treats issues like immigration, alienation, gender, higher education, power, wealth, corruption and activism within the broader context of oil extraction in Nigeria. The novel’s protagonist, the Activist, gets involved in oil bunkering and uses those profits to start a newspaper, using the newspaper to promote his successful bid for political office.
Asuni, Judith Burdin and United States Institute of Peace. Blood Oil in the Niger Delta. Washington, D.C: U.S. Institute of Peace, 2009. iucat.iu.edu. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. Special Report 229.
Attributes the increase of illegal oil bunkering in the Niger Delta to high unemployment, “endemic corruption…[and] established international markets for stolen oil” (1).  Asuni distinguishes between small-scale and large-scale bunkering and focuses her analysis on large-scale bunkering by corrupt officials and oil company workers. Bunkering has been extremely important, the author concludes, in the rise of militancy since these groups use profits to purchase weapons and fund their operations.
Malina, Thomas. “Militancy in the Niger Delta.” Matthew B.  Ridgway Center for International Security Studies. The University of Pittsburgh, n.d.:  n. pag. Web. 21 Mar 2014.
Reports on the government’s efforts to limit bunkering and how the corrupt and brutal tactics of the Nigerian military - “extortion, rape, and the general intimidation of the populace” - pushed more “alienated youths into the armed groups.”
Ojakorotu, Victor, ed. Anatomy of the Niger Delta Crisis: Causes, Consequences and Opportunities for Peace. LIT Verlag Münster, 2010. Print.
This collection of essays investigates and analyzes the complexities at work in the Niger Delta. The authors attribute causes of the crisis to colonial history, global capitalism and political elitism. At the same time these essays critique the causes and consequences of instability in the Delta, they also point to potential remedies if the Nigerian government seriously considers the claims of affected communities. Item not seen.
Habila, Helon. Oil on water. London, England: Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books, 2010. Print.
Habila’s novel concisely weaves many aspects of the oil crisis in Nigeria in the 2000s. Oil on Water depicts Nigeria’s governmental abuse - particularly land expropriation and violent persecution - at the behest of the oil companies. Characters include college graduates excluded from the oil economy, communities deracinated by oil development, journalists documenting the militant-military conflict and desperate youths who turn to violence as a last resort in defending their rights.
Collier, Paul. The Bottom Billion:  Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done about It. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. iucat.iu.edu. Web. 24 Mar. 2014.
Calls militant protest in the Niger Delta “a protection racket,” arguing “grievance has evolved, over a decade, into greed” (31). The author emphasizes the benevolent self-interest of the west is the solution to underdevelopment.
Watts, Michael. “Petro-Insurgency or Criminal Syndicate? Conflict and Violence in the Niger Delta.” Review of African Political Economy, 34.114 (2007): 637-660. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.
Explores the motivations of youth militancy in the Niger Delta. With a focused analysis of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), Watts disputes Paul Collier’s claim “grievance has evolved…into greed” (638). Watts finds militant groups like MEND have real grievances and clearer goals than Collier gives credit.
A crucial point Watts makes is the popular view that peaceful protest had failed in the 1990s and more extreme measures like violent resistance became necessary.
Bushra, Shadi. “Nigeria Wages War for Its Own Oil.” The Stanford Progressive, January 2009 n.pag. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
Surveys the “unholy trinity of ambitious politicians, compliant generals, and unchecked corporations,” finding Nigeria’s endowment of oil has become a bane.
The author argues that since “all manners of peacefully resisting the environmental, social, and economic degradation…have proven futile,” civil protest groups turned to violent resistance. Bushra denounces the oversimplified portrait of militant groups like MEND as terrorists, saying oversimplification and dismissal of their concerns is what “forces people into arms.”
Kashi, Ed. Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta. 1st ed. Brooklyn, N.Y: PowerHouse Books, 2008a. Print.
Explores the many root elements at the rise of militancy in the Niger Delta in the 2000s, attempting to tell the story of the Niger Delta from the perspective of its citizens - including those who adopted militancy.
Curse of the Black Gold features Kashi’s powerful photography and essays by Michael Watts; Nnimmo Bassey; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Oronto Douglas; the author himself; Commission of Noble Laureates on Peace, Equity and Development in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria; et. al.
Many of the essays argue chronic underdevelopment, loss of livelihood due to pollution and political marginalization are the principle frustrations that led some to militancy.
---. Curse of the Black Gold Movie. Talking Eyes Media and MediaStorm, 2008b. Film.
While highlighting startling statistics about the history of oil in Nigeria, Kashi narrates Curse of the Black Gold Movie through interview commentary by Delta fisherman and Nigerian activists. The film uncovers the deep-seated, potentially explosive frustrations of the Niger Delta people.
O’Neill, Tom. “Curse of the Black Gold:  Hope and Betrayal in the Niger Delta.” National Geographic February, 2007: 98-111. Print.
Provides a historical reflection on the discovery of oil in 1956, and the serious disappointments in the decades since. O’Neill characterizes the rise of militancy in 2006 as reactionary protest to environmental degradation, political repression and economic exclusion.
Collier, Paul, Anke Hoeffler, and Dominic Rohner. “Beyond Greed and Grievance: Feasibility and Civil War.” Oxford Economic Papers (2008): 1-29. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
Develops the theory:  “[W]here civil war is feasible it will occur without reference to motivation” (2). With statistical analysis of 208 countries and 84 civil outbreaks, the authors argue the true factor behind political conflict is simple economics.
Courson, Elias. “MEND: Political Marginalization, Repression, and Petro-Insurgency in the Niger Delta.” Nordiska Afrikainstitutet, Uppsala (2009):  5-28. Web. 3 Mar. 2014.
Surveys the literature on resource conflict and responds to scholarly perceptions of Niger Delta militancy. Engaging with the debate sparked by Collier, Courson asks whether “insurgency is propelled merely by greed or by deep-seated grievances” in the case of MEND (7).
Courson bases his discussion of “grievance” on the conclusions of Ibrahim Elbadawi and Nicholas Sambanis, who challenged the resource curse hypothesis in 2000, arguing “the lack or absence of political and economic development [is] the root cause of conflicts in the African continent” (11). Courson then points to the work of Norman Girvan (1976), who assesses underdevelopment as the product of corporate imperialism.
Regarding the Niger Delta crisis, the author elaborates on the conclusions of Shadi Bushra (2009), who argues Niger Deltans resorted to militancy because peaceful resistance had become futile. Courson finds, in contrast to Collier, that MEND was steadfast and shrewd in their fight “for survival, equity, dignity and justice” (24). Unrest in the Niger Delta, Courson concludes, “is basically a struggle for the rights and dignity as well as social justice for the people of the Niger Delta” (25).
Yerimah, Amed P. Three Plays: Hard Ground, Little Drops and Ipomu. Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria: Kraft books Limited, 2011. Print.
Hard Ground tells the story of Delta militancy through the eyes of a young militant. As a young man surrounded by intense brutality, violence is the only way Nimi knows to assert himself in the world.
Little Drops is a wrenching, complex work depicting the tense interactions between males and females, young and old. Women in the play are terribly victimized, yet that role changes when they get weapons and start to behave like the terrorizing men.
Ipomu portrays a Delta wracked by violence through the story of its protagonist, Ipomu. Ipomu is a self-interested militant who gives more value to lucrative amnesty deals than human life. Humanity is almost restored by the humble boatman, Preye. In contrast to Ipomu, Preye’s concerns are the safe birth of his child and being a loving, responsible father. This final twist projects Yerima’s vision for a safer, more caring Delta community.




Conflict Resolution, Amnesty and Fragile Peace
Okonta, Ike. “Niger Delta: Behind The Mask.” Pambazuka News. 26 October 2006a:  n.pag. Web. 20 Feb. 2014.
Reports on the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force killing 15 members of the MEND militia and a kidnapped Shell worker on 20 August 2006, thereby fracturing the truce struck in April between the militant group and the national government.
Okonta connects current events with the history of restiveness from which MEND arose in the Delta’s Ijaw region. The author historicizes the fiscal rearrangement of Nigeria’s constitution following the Biafra War, which marginalized Niger Delta states - including Ijaw-speaking regions. Decree 15 in 1969 wrested control of oil fields from local communities and a 1979 decree cut their revenue allocation from 20% to 1.5%.
“Militants call for mayhem in Nigeria oil delta.” Reuters 9 May 2007. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Covers MEND’s avowal to “unleash a month of ‘mayhem’” in response to the disputed 2007 election, which declared Umaru Musa Yar’Adua as victor. MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo (pseudonym) announced their opposition to Vice President Goodluck Jonathan - who is from the Niger Delta - for calling the group “criminals and terrorists.”
Murray, Senan. “Tackling Nigeria’s violent oil swamps.” BBC 30 May 2007:  n.pag. bbc.co.uk. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Emphasizes the urgency of Yar’Adua’s challenge as new president. Yar’Adua is “striking the right chords” to achieve peace, the author observes, “with his calls for dialogue with the militants.” Murray concludes Yar’Adua will need more than just another peace plan to effect real stability in Nigeria. 
Hazen, Jennifer M., and Jonas Horner. Small Arms, Armed Violence, and Insecurity in Nigeria: the Niger Delta in Perspective. Small Arms Survey Geneva, 2007. Google Scholar. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Conducts a comprehensive study of armed violence in the Niger Delta in the effort of raising awareness to the issues at hand. The authors base analyses on scholarly research and various field interviews “with key informants in government, the foreign diplomatic corps, national and international organizations, individuals involved in the arms trade, and various informed citizens” (5).
Of the various areas of focus on small arms trade and violence in Nigeria, the ones most relevant to my research are “The Causes of Armed Violence,” “Armed Groups” and “Tackling Armed Insecurity.” The study offers a brief analysis of media coverage of the Niger Delta crisis, concluding international media covered the intensification of political and election-related violence while national media focused on the rising violence of militant operations.
The authors find Obasanjo’s insincere and poorly-implemented disarmament agreements did little to calm rising hostilities in the early 2000s. For newly-elected President Yar’Adua’s seemingly sincere peace efforts to be successful, the study concludes, Nigeria must make considerable improvements in development, security, resource redistribution and security sector reform in the South-South states.
Newuwumi, Omolubi and Vanguard Staff. “Government incorrect to label militants as criminals.” Vanguard News 19 June 2009. Web. 29 Mar. 2014.
Reports on the naming of Omolubi Newuwumi as Peace Ambassador by the Delta State Waterways Secutiry Committee (DWSC). Most of the article is a statement from Newuwumi himself,  in which he outlines the historical roots and different phases of the “Niger Delta crisis.”
Newuwumi calls for larger patrol of Delta waterways by the Nigerian Navy, which he sees as the main sites of militant criminal activity. The Peace Ambassador also critiques President Yar’Ardua’s amnesty plan, arguing lasting peace depends on:  rebuilding destroyed Itsekiri and Ijaw communities, re-orienting former militants to peaceful society and a thorough re-examination of the foundation of Nigeria’s Federal Republic.
Onah, George. “The story of Ateke Tom…and his ‘five-point agenda for peace.’” Vanguard News 20 June 2009 n.pag. Web. 21 Mar. 2014
Interviews militant leader Ateke Tom about his life before militancy, his transition to armed resistance and his vision for peace and amnesty. Tom describes how his groups - the Niger Delta Vigilante Force and the Niger Delta Patriotic Force - took up militant resistance as a way to agitate for development in the Niger Delta.
The article outlines Tom’s vision for peace:  1) militants laying down their arms 2) militants embracing a peaceful solution to the crisis 3) President Yar’Adua “match[ing] his words on the issue of the grant of amnesty to all militants” 4) end of military operations in the Delta 5) removal of JTF troops from the Delta.
Many in Nigeria, Onah observes, doubt the sincerity of Tom’s call for reconciliation, citing his past betrayals of peace efforts.
Idonor, Daniel. “Yar’Adua grants militants unconditional amnesty…frees Henry Okah.” Vanguard News (Lagos) 25 June 2009:  n.pag. Web. 25 Mar. 2014.
Quotes President Yar’Adua’s amnesty declaration, which:
·      acknowledged popular frustrations at the Delta’s underdevelopment as the root cause of militant activity
·      expressed eagerness to utilize the energies of “able-bodied youths” to fuel the region’s development
·      recognized youth interest in amnesty and therefore granted “amnesty and unconditional pardon…[to] all persons presently being prosecuted for offences associated with militant activities.”
Yar’Adua’s amnesty deal required militants surrender, forfeit their arms and renounce militancy by 4 October 2009.
Ajani, Jide and Jimitota Onoyume. “Militant leaders opt for amnesty by proxy.” Vanguard News (Lagos) 24 June 2009 n. pag. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
Covers the pledge of top militant leaders - General Boyloaf, Soboma George and Farah Dagogo - to accept the amnesty deal, “but by proxy, for fear of arrest.” The leaders pledged to surrender their arms but not in person, citing the arrest of Alhaji Dokubo-Asari at the moment he surrendered as the source of their apprehension.
Rice, Xan. “Nigeria Begins Amnesty for Niger Delta Militants.” The Guardian (London) 6 Aug. 2009:  n.pag. Web. 13 Apr. 2014.
Describes the progress of the amnesty deal, which aimed to include 10,000 militants by offering “unconditional pardon and cash to militants.” Rice relies on the insights of Richard Moncrieff (west Africa project director for the International Crisis Group) who believes amnesty is a positive development, but redistribution of the oil wealth is necessary to achieve lasting peace.
Oluwaniyi, Oluwatoyin O. “Oil and Youth Militancy in Nigeria’s Niger Delta Region.” Journal of Asian and African Studies, Vol. 45, No. 3 (2010):  309-325. jstor. Web. 4 Feb. 2014.
Following President Yar’Adua’s amnesty agreement, Oluwaniyi insists that continued peace depends on further psychological and social rehabilitation of former militants, diversification of Nigeria’s economy, respecting Global Memoranda of Understanding and constant dialogue between the Nigerian government, oil and gas industries and the oil-producing communities. 
“Total signs MOU with Niger Delta host communities.” Premium Times (Abuja) 8 Feb. 2013. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
Details the Memorandum of Understanding between France-based Total oil company and the Niger Delta communities that host their operations. Said agreement, the author explains, intends to improve the lives of the communities through infrastructure development. The article describes Total’s plan to distribute funds to chiefs and commissioners Charles Okaye, Rowland Woko and Okey Kanu, who will then distribute funds for the development of their communities.
Alike, Ejiofor. “Why Militancy Resurfaces in N’Delta.” Thisday Live (Lagos) 21 Nov. 2010:  n.pag. Web. 7 Apr. 2014.
Reports on the status of militants who did not lay down their arms by the 4 October 2009 cut-off date, who now want to surrender with the same conditions granted to the 20,000 militants who accepted amnesty in 2009. Speaking with Ambassador Hassan Ardo Tukur - President Goodluck Jonathan’s Special Secretary -  the author reports the Jonathan administration’s reluctance to grant the same conditions to holdout militants. Tukur call the militants criminals and supports the JTF’s zero-tolerance policy.
Akanji, T.A, and M. Oyitso. “Consumers’ Views of the Strategies for Promoting Peace and Sustainable Development in the Niger Delta Region.” Review of European Studies 4.2 (2012): 168-174. EBSCOhost. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.
Summarizes the survey results on promoting peace in the Niger Delta. The study surveyed 1,470 respondents “from nine communities in Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers State.”
Across the three Delta states, respondents consistently concluded:  “Community people should be involved in the planning and execution of projects, there should be effective communication among stakeholders, employment creation, youth empowerment through acquisition of skills and massive infrastructural development.”
Onoyume, Jimitota. “MEND: Back to the trenches?” Vanguard News (Lagos) 27 Dec. 2009, n. pag. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
Onoyume asks what he sees as the most urgent question in post-amnesty Nigeria: “What does MEND really want?” The story appears after an online communication from Jomo Gbomo, claiming it had attacked a pipeline in Abonnema. “Community sources in Abonnema,” however, “could not confirm the alleged attack.” Shell also denied an attack took place on their facility.
The author reports how news of Gbomo’s declaration disturbed the Rivers State government and saddened former militant commander, Soboma Jackreec. Jackreec urged “youths to embrace dialogue” so the federal government can have “a chance to develop the region…Peace should be given a chance.”
Ajayi, Adegboyega Isaac, and Adesola S. Adesote. “The Gains and Pains of the Amnesty Programme in the Niger Delta Region of Nigeria, 2007–2012: A Preliminary Assessment.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 48.4 (2013): 506-520. jas.sagepub.com. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.
Cautions the initial Yar’Adua/Jonathan amnesty deal was a short-term peace measure and rapid socio-economic development and more job opportunities are necessary for lasting peace. The authors also argue it is in the interest of the oil companies to improve their environmental policies.
Nwogwugwu, Ijeoma. “Avoiding a Resurgence of Militancy.” ThisDay Live (Lagos) 3 July 2010: n.pag. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Puts the toll of the Niger Delta crisis in terms of “loss of lives, property, foreign direct investment and revenue,” a heavy cost President Yar’Adua’s amnesty program managed to stop. Nwogwugwu emphasizes the importance that Yar’Adua’s death not be the end of this partially-completed program.
Acting president Goodluck Jonathan, the author argues, should continue with amnesty’s second phase, in which “ex-war lords and militants will be exposed to peace and conflict resolution programmes, vocational and skills acquisition courses, career counseling, and tertiary institution education in various courses that would enable them secure employment.”
Ijediogor, Godwin. “In the Grip of Violence.” The Guardian (Lagos) 5 May 2012 n.pag. Web. 7 Mar. 2014.
Expresses serious concern for the social and political stability of the Republic of Nigeria. Citing the Boko Haram terrorists in the north, militant attacks in the Niger Delta that “have not been eliminated completely…[and] politically motivated acts of violence” throughout the country, Godwin worries the Nigerian state “is gradually drifting into hopelessness.”
Cocks, Tim, Ibrahim Mshelizza and Alison Williams, ed. “Nigeria Boko Haram member sends letter offering dialogue.” Reuters (London) 26 Nov. 2012: n.pag. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
Reports that “Islamist militant group Boko Haram has distributed a letter requesting talks with the government.” The article questioned the letter’s authenticity after the 3,000 insurgency-related deaths since 2009, but if the letter is authentic, Cocks reflects, it would mark a significant change in strategy for the group wishing to impose sharia law on Nigeria. No government officials reacted to the letter and President Jonathan said “no talks were going on with Boko Haram while they remained faceless and in the shadows.”