Ok so you may or may not know, but Nigeria has a crazy huge film industry. In fact it’s third in the world after Hollywood and India’s Bollywood scene. In fact, its been named Nollywood as its very similar.
Well last week I attended the first film in the Nigerian Film Series that the Smithsonian Museum of African Art is hosting. The movie was great but the fact that Chevron is the main sponsor was disconcerting. Yep, the same Chevron that is responsible for massive environmental destruction and human rights violations in the Niger Delta. I find it disrespectful that Chevron would use an event like this to make their public image more appealing, especially within the Nigerian community of DC.
Why is Chevron the wrong sponsor for Nigeria?
- Over the last fifty years, Chevron has spilled 1.5 million tons of oil in the Niger Delta, contaminating waterways, fish-stocks and farmlands.
- Chevron still engages in the illegal practice of gas flaring [the burning and emission of natural gas into the air during the oil extraction process], contributing massive amounts of carbon dioxide and resulting in high rates of cancer, asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
- Chevron employs the Nigerian military’s secret security forces – known to violently repress peaceful protests. In 2008 Chevron stood trial for torture; extrajudicial killing; and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of Nigerian villagers.
We were concerned about this so our colleagues at Justice in Nigeria Now (JINN) phoned the museum’s corporate membership office to express concern about Chevron’s sponsoring of the event and to ask about the criteria for evaluating prospective sponsors.
Their response: that they could not divulge its criteria; that they are aware of Chevron’s track record in Nigeria, but that they did not concern themselves with the political ramifications of what their funders do, since the Smithsonian’s objective is to fund art.
So I attended the movie along with some of my friends and we handed out these postcards and collected signatures of other movie-goers that were just as offended by the Chevron sponsorship. In fact, most attendees seemed surprised to find out that an oil company was sponsoring such a lovely evening at the Smithsonian.
I am looking forward to the rest of the film series. Nollywood is fascinating to me. The producer, Lancelot, who was showcased in the documentary, has made over 150 movies in his career! If you are in the DC area, come join me one Thursday.