Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Brief History Of The Rich But Victimized Ogoniland

The Ogoni is an old ethnic group that was said to have sailed all the way from old Ghana Empire down the Atlantic Coast before heading and settling in the Eastern Niger Delta making them one of the oldest settlers in that region as they are said to have been there before the 15th B.C based the Radiocarbon test conducted by Kay Williamson.

According to an oral history, Gbenekwanwaa; an Ogoni woman led a group of people consisting of Diviners, Warriors, and sailed through the Atlantic Coast. The Ogoni people are agrarians, and are good in fishery. Cassava, palm oil, fish, and yam were their central source of their economy till 1956 the Royal Dutch Shell and the British government discovered an oil field and began oil refining in 1958.

With over two million in their population, the Ogoniland covers about 404 square miles which is 1050 km2 homeland.

There are six kingdoms that made up Ogoniland; Gokana, Eleme, Ken-Khana, Nyo-Khana, and Tai. Once, Ogoniland was covered by a thick forest but due to oil exploration in the land, it suffered deforestation and pollution.

Ogoni speaks Eleme, Gokana, Khana, Tae, and Ban Ogoi which are generally referred to as Ogoni or Kegboid languages. It was told that during the Nigerian civil war, the Biafran army occupied Ogoniland.

Ogoni people have suffered human right violations since 1958. Oil spilling, waste discharges, and oil flaring has made some parts of Ogoni land unfit for agriculture while the waters were contaminated with Benzene, a Carcinogen that exceeded WHO instructions.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, to rehabilitate Ogoniland would take about 30 years. This resulted to discomforts amongst the people, such as was demonstrated in October 1990 when an Ogoni man, Ken Saro Wiwa who was the leader of the Movement of the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) along with other eight activists; Paul Levura, Felix Nuate, John Kpuinen, Barinem Kiobel, Daniel Gboko, Saturday Dobee, Baribor Bera, and Nordu Eawo offered The Ogoni Bill of Rights to the Nigerian federal government demanding for political and economic autonomy tthat would see the be in charge of what is in their land.

In 1993, a protest was formed with the agenda to stop contractors from laying new pipes for the Shell, the Nigerian Police raided and caused uproar

in the area. With about 27 villages were combed, lots of people were displaced while over 2000 people lost their lives.

1994 was said to be the year MOSOP lost their vibe to push on, after General Sani Abacha had Saro Wiwa and the other eight activists hanged for their protest.

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