Nnimmo Bassey is a renowned Nigerian environmental activist, well known for his work campaigning against the practices of multinational oil corporations in Nigeria. It has been estimated that spills equivalent to the size of that from the Exxon Valdez have occurred in the Niger Delta every year over the past 50 years.
In 1993, Bassey co-founded Environmental Rights Action (ERA), a Nigerian advocacy NGO dealing with environmental human rights issues in the country. Environmental Rights Action is also known as Friends of the Earth Nigeria. In 2010, Bassey was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for his work, otherwise known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’.
In this interview, he talks about the impact of oil drilling and oil spills in the Niger Delta, the threat that GMOs pose to African agriculture and how Africans across the continent can create a front against the extractive industries as well as against neoliberalapproaches to environmentalism.
On March 31, a blast killed 6 people in the predominantly Somali neighbourhood of Eastleigh in Kenya. Following the blast, Kenyan police rounded up thousands Somali refugees and Somali Kenyans, detaining them in overcrowded conditions in makeshift camps and police stations. Those detained reported that people were beaten and raped by the police and required to hand over money and valuables. Some pregnant women had miscarriages or were forced to give birth while in detention.
Meanwhile, in the port city of Mombasa, on April 1st, Muslim cleric Sheikh Abubakar Sharif Ahmed, otherwise known as Makaburi, was assassinated after attending a court hearing. He is the third Muslim cleric to be killed in Mombasa since 2012. While many suspect police involvement, they have denied accusations that they are to blame for extra-judicial killings.
In this interview, Al-Amin Kimathi, a human rights activist and Executive Director of the Muslims for Human Rights Forum, talks about the crackdown on Somali communities in Eastleigh, the assassination of Makaburi, and how these events relate to counter-terrorism strategies and interests in the East Africa region.
In May 2009, toxic sludge from a gold mine operated by African Barrick Gold (a subsidiary of Toronto-based Barrick Gold) seeped into River Thigithe in North Mara, Tanzania. Reports from the surrounding villages alleged that the toxic material led to the deaths of about 20 people and to fish, crops and animals dying from the contaminated water. This radio documentary, produced for Norwegian Church Aid, features interviews with residents around the North Mara almost two years later.
PAMBAZUKA NEWS: Can you tell me very briefly what your book, ‘Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism?’ is about?
SAMIR AMIN: The title of my book is indicative of the intention. The title, in a provocative way, is ‘Ending the Crisis of Capitalism or Ending Capitalism in Crisis?’ As you can see, these are two different visions and strategies of action. Capitalism is currently in a crisis. This is not just a financial crisis which started with the breakdown of the financial system in September 2008. The financial crisis is itself the result of a long, a deep crisis which started long before, around 1975 with as of that time, unemployment, precarity, poverty, inequality, having grown continuously. And this real crisis of really existing capitalism has been overcome by financialisation of the system and the financialisation of the system has been the Achilles heel of the system. Therefore I thought that, and I wrote in 2002 that financialisation, being the Achilles heel of the system, the system will start breaking down and moving into a deeper crisis through a financial crisis, which is what happened.
Ashraf Cassiem of the Cape Town-based Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign discusses the impact of the World Cup on South Africa. In his view, the country, and especially the poor, stand to lose as a result of hosting the World Cup. He highlights the vast amount of public resources spent on the tournament, the loss of livelihoods by traders and the eviction of the poor from public land adjoining stadium sites as prime examples of this.
While world leaders and NGO delegates from around the world converged in Copenhagen for the 15th UN climate change conference, thousands of activists, writers, academics and artists gathered at Klimaforum, an alternative climate summit. Here people were given a space to meet, discuss and create radical solutions to climate change.
The following audio piece features interviews with representatives of different countries across sub-Saharan Africa who were at Klimaforum. Wahu Kaara of the Kenya Debt Relief Network provides a critique of the UN climate change conference and addresses the significance of the Copenhagen mobilisation for movements in Kenya; Demba Moussa Dembele, from the Jubilee South campaign in Senegal, talks about the need for sufficient funds to flow from the North to the South to compensate for ecological and climate debt; Julia Agwu from the University of Nigeria in Nsukka gives an analysis of gender and climate change and the impacts of climate change on women in Nigeria; and finally, Mabule Mokhine of the Greenhouse People’s Environment Centre in Johannesburg explains the process by which land dispossession in South Africa was consolidated at the end of the apartheid and the need for collaborations between global grassroots movements.