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Video: Why We Chose Africa
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In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

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Did You Know?Did You Know?

Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation, its biggest oil exporter, and one of its most egregious underachiever in political, social, and corporate governance. Nigerians could be forgiven for cursing early June 1956, when the first commercial deposit of oil was discovered by Shell-BP. It happened at Oloibiri, a village in the Niger Delta, and the local king told a visiting journalist in 2004 that his people were so happy at the time that they played a friendly soccer match with the oil company's technicians.   

The smiles didn't last. With oil as a permanent backdrop, Nigerians staggered through the Biafran war and its one million deaths in the late 1960s, then got mugged for the next 30 years by a succession of civilian and military regimes, each seemingly more corrupt than its predecessor.
The worst was headed by Gen. Sani Abacha. During his five years in power until he died in 1998, reputedly in the arms of two Indian prostitutes, the dictator looted many hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps even a couple of billion, parking them in Western banks, which had no qualms about handling dirty money. Nigerians have a fully justified reputation for standing up for themselves, but Abacha terrorized his compatriots as no previous leader had done. And he committed one of the great symbolic crimes of post-independence Africa when he had Ken Saro-Wiwa hanged.
A well-known author and entrepreneur, Saro-Wiwa had become a militant campaigner against Shell and the oil industry because of the environmental damage wrought on his beloved Ogoniland in the Niger Delta. 
In Ken Wiwa's compelling book about his relationship with his father, In the Shadow of a Saint, he quotes Saro-Wiwa's last words before walking to the gallows in Port Harcourt prison on November 10, 1995.
"Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues."
How right he was. Ten years on, the delta is a low-level war zone. The oil industry there is a constant target of ethnic insurrection, hostage-taking, sabotage, and grand larceny. And for the first time since Biafra, Nigeria officially has "rebels."
—Nick Kotch


Related Links

Chad's Oil: Miracle or Mirage?

This recent report by Ian Gary of Catholic Relief Services and Nikki Reich of the Bank Information Center spells out clearly the rules and regulations of Chad's oil money accountability program as sponsored by the World Bank.
Chad-Cameroon Development Project
To see the oil company's perspective on the project, visit Esso Chad's own website covering details of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline construction and offering quarterly reports, documentation on the people and the environment, and recent updates on the project.
Corruption Perceptions Index
Click on Transparency International's link to the Corruption Perceptions Index to see where your own country ranks. The United States is currently ranked number 17, in a tie with Belgium and Ireland.
Nigerian Oil and Gas Online
Get up-to-date developments in the energy business in Nigeria, "the backbone of the Nigerian economy." Find links to information on petroleum development, natural gas in Nigeria, offshore exploration, investment, and a petroleum industry profile.



Gary, Ian, and Terry Lynn Karl. "Bottom of the Barrel. Africa's Oil Boom and the Poor." Catholic Relief Services, June 2003.
Human Rights Watch. The Price of Oil: Corporate Responsibility and Human Rights Violations in Nigeria's Oil Producing Communities. Human Rights Watch, 1999.
Karl, Terry Lynn. The Paradox of Plenty: Oil Booms and Petro-States. University of California Press, 1997.


NGS Resources

Mitchell, John G. "All Fired Up." National Geographic (July 2005), 92-113.
Tourtellot, Jonathan B. "Oil Comes to Eden." National Geographic Traveler (March 2005), 33.
Appenzeller, Tim. "The End of Cheap Oil." National Geographic (June 2004), 80-109.
Viviano, Frank. "Kingdom on Edge: Saudi Arabia." National Geographic (October 2003), 2-41.
Fraser, Sean. African Adventure Atlas. National Geographic Books, 2003.
Jerome, Kate Boehm. Using Energy. National Geographic Reading Expeditions, 2003.

Mitchell, John G. "In Focus Artic National Wildlife Refuge: Oil Field or Sanctuary?National Geographic (August 2001), 46-55.
Moore, Lisa. "Insatiable Appetites: Rising Global Energy Consumption Fuels the Search for Alternatives." National Geographic (March 2001).
DeWitt, Lynda. "Going Without Gasoline: Kids Rally in Their Sun-Powered Car." National Geographic World (April 2000), 12-13.
Webster, Donovan. "Journey to the Heart of the Sahara." National Geographic (March 1999), 2-33.

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