Sunday, July 06, 2008

Let's Keep Pointing Fingers

Ed Kashi is a very talented and successful photographer, and a global citizen who cares about social and environmental issues. On NPR this morning to talk about his book, the Curse of the Black Gold, it was disappointing to hear him say the following:
"And while it's very easy to point our fingers at the oil companies and we absolutely need to, it's the Nigerian government, that I feel - having spent three years working there - that really bears the greatest responsibility, because after all our governments are."
The problem is that the government that exists in Nigeria, is there in large part because of the actions of the big oil companies that have helped foster a culture of violence and exploitation in Nigeria. The biggest villains in the oil sector are Shell Oil (see the chapter "A Game for Spin Doctors" in the book Where Vultures Feed) and Chevron.

Kashi does not deny that the oil companies are guilty, but I can only guess that he assumes that NPR has covered the oil company aspect fully - but it hasn't. Also it would seem to me that private citizens would have more impact organizing to improve the behavior of the oil companies than we would on the government of Nigeria (which he rightly condemns for being abysmally corrupt and brutal).

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