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Dede Mabiaku and "Black November": Raising Awareness About The Niger Delta

October 8, 2012

For the past 50 years, there have been about 300 oil spills every year in the Niger Delta.  Each of those years has passed without anything being done to prevent new spills.  

For the past 50 years, there have been about 300 oil spills every year in the Niger Delta.  Each of those years has passed without anything being done to prevent new spills.  

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Worse still, the contaminated water is never cleaned; therefore, it is undrinkable. The wildlife is dying, and farmers can’t farm, so it is impossible for them to provide for their families.  The conditions have been compared to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, only ten times worse in one year.

The place has become the junkyard for Western exploitation of oil and the local people. But it was only recently that congressman Bobby Rush and other prominent figures decided to partake in the restoration of the Niger Delta, after seeing the movie “Black November – Struggle for the Niger Delta.”

“Black November” narrates the true story of the corruption and greedy tactics used by multi-national oil corporations and the Nigerian government to hide the truth about the oils spills in the Niger Delta, while making a large sum of money from exporting what really belongs to the Nigerian citizens.  Sadly, the people most affected by the spills get rewarded not even a penny for their agony.

The movie, which started as a $300,000 project to raise consciousness and put an end to the dehumanization of Nigerians affected, ended up as a $16 million masterpiece.

“Black November” was screened on September 26 during the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, attended by several celebrities who are also in it, including Akon, Mickey Rourke, Wyclef Jean, Kim Basinger, Vivica A. Fox, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Persia White, Anne Heche, O.C Ukeje, and Sarah Wayne Callies.

Jeta Amata, the writer and director of the movie, and his wife Mbong Amata, who plays the protagonist in the story, expressed great appreciation for being given the opportunity to show the struggle of a Niger Delta community against the mistreatment and destruction of their environment. Nigerian actress and director Uche Jombo was also present, along with the Reverend Al Sharpton, actor Larenz Tate, and of course, Dede Mabiaku, the mastermind behind the movie.

A Nigerian national himself, Mabiaku is an artist, musician, actor, producer and occasional T.V. presenter.  A protégé of the legendary musician, Fela Kuti, he worked with Fela and his band, Egypt 80 for over a decade, singing and playing the saxophone. He is best known in the afrobeat, highlife & jazz scene, and for being one of the anchors of the Occupy Nigeria movement.

Mabiaku visited our SaharaReporters headquarters on September 29 to talk about “Black November” and the Nigerian government.

He started the interview talking about Fela and the way the government treated him. They tortured, abused, and disgraced him in front of the whole world, he said. That was what propelled him into becoming an understudy of the legendary musician, craving to discern the whys, how, and whens about Fela.

“Our people die for want of wisdom, and lack of awareness,” Mabiaku said.

With regard to Occupy Nigeria, he referenced the fact that it was the only movement in Nigeria that was non-violent, stressing that it is absurd for Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan and the media to speculate that it was sponsored. “Occupy Nigerian was not just about the fuel increase,” Mabiaku said. “It was about the decadent, despicable way the governance was going with the flagrant abuse of our own finances, and of rulership.”

The movement was successful, in Mabiaku’s eyes, because it was a rude awakening to people, especially young boys who used social networks to create awareness and start a revolution.   

Reflecting on “Black November,” he characterized it as “an eye-opening movie with a cause,” and encouraged people to reach out and sign the bill so the law can be passed for the immediate cleanup of the Niger Delta.

Mabiaku can currently be found performing with the Underground African Sounds, his 25-piece orchestra band.

He left us with the famous Yoruba proverb, “If we don’t eat oil because of yam, we eat yam because of oil.”

Watch the full interview here

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