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Chad Oil Boon
SEPTEMBER 2005
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Video: Why We Chose Africa
In some cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.
Photograph courtesy Pascal Maitre



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Chad Oil Boon






    This was my first story for National Geographic, and I was really happy that I got the chance to work on a special issue about Africa. Over the past 25 years, I've covered stories in 45 countries. I've always felt that this huge rich continent deserves more of the public's attention.      It took me six weeks to get a visa to get into Nigeria because the government and the oil companies don't like the press. And after I got in, I still had issues with access. I had to obtain permission for everything or wait for a tribal chief to make some calls. In some places I could only shoot at certain times, which meant I didn't always get to work in the best light. There was no flexibility.
    When I finally left Nigeria, I got held up at security. The officials said they wanted to investigate what I had been doing, even though it was clear that I had press accreditation and a visa. After two hours of arguing, I convinced them to let me go.
 
    A group of Roman Catholic bishops from central Africa met in Chad to tour ExxonMobil's facilities and to see if the company's pipeline projects were helping local people (see pages 58-9). When it was time for lunch, the company served them hamburgers, hot dogs, and popcorn. They were a little upset. They didn't like the food and couldn't figure out why they couldn't just eat normal African food.
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