George Osodi: The Real People of the Delta

George Osodi is a photographer and activist who has been documenting life in the Niger Delta for the past 8 years.   With so many western photographers, researchers, writers and film makers documenting the Niger Delta,  George’s work [he is from Delta State] work is especially important. Far away from the politics of oil, militarisation and the ever changing deals with militants, George’s photographs are powerful representations of the lives of ordinary people living with the daily effects of an environment brutalised by oil exploration from which they have gained nothing.

People are of great value to me , especially what I call the real people.They are a source of joy and inspiration to me.In recent times, the impact of oil in the lives of most oil producing regions has been highly paradoxical especially now that Nigeria is the 6TH largest oil supplier to the world’s most oil addicted consumer

I became involved in this project during my visits working as a photographer for a local newspaper and latter the Associated press. I noticed there was so much injustice being perpetuated in the Delta region. So much had been heard about the situation in the Delta but very little had been seen in images, due to the hostile topography of the region.

In this series called Orange Light, the beauty of the colours of the flares are juxtaposed against the ugliness of their impact on the environment.  At the same time the people appropriate the ugliness for their own survival despite the risk to their lives.  The series records the life of widow, Helen Ikri and her three children, Samuel, Marvis and Joy, whose days and nights are lived in orange light.   They live in a rented hut in Uzere, Delta State where they make their living from drying tapicoa (cassava cake) by the gas flares.    It is generally midnight before they get back to their home where they cook and eat in the orange light of the kerosene lantern.   Helen is determined to continue her work irrespective of the dangers to her health so she can pay the children’s school fees and medical care.  

There are thousands of ordinary people like Helen  all over the the Delta region who against all odds try to make ends meet without being bothered about the oil pollitics and conflicts in the region and they are

THE REAL PEOPLE OF THE DELTA



Drying the cassava by the orange light of the gas flare pit.

Helen and her children bathed in the orange light of the candles.

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