Yesterday I visited two Shell oil spill sites in the Niger Delta with Ogoni climate activists from Lekeh Development Foundation, local community leaders, and West African climate experts. It might be the saddest and most enraging thing I have ever seen.
While there I filmed Ogoni community leaders, activists, students and doctors, explaining the situation and the suffering of these communities, and captured footage of the ecological devastation Shell and other oil companies have brought to their homes. See my story for one of these videos, the rest I need time to edit and upload.
Shell has been attacking the people of the Niger Delta from both ends. People here are having their lives ruined and dramatically shortened by the spills and leaks and toxic fumes of oil production in their communities but they're also some of the most heavily affected by climate change. Already floods in this part of the world are far deadlier and more severe than they were ten years ago.
I have to admit I was a little bit sceptical of how useful me coming out here would be, like all the information about these spills is available online, photos, videos and data are all out there. But something happened as I filmed Bariara Kpalap speak, an Ogoni community leader (video in my last story), and he was describing how their water wells had now become oil wells they were so contaminated, but the people had no choice but to drink that water anyway, and as he was speaking I looked down and there was oil literally running between my feet and I don't know what it was but in that moment something snapped inside me.
I didn't think it was possible for me to hate Shell more than I already did. This trip has radicalised me. I don't want to shut down Shell anymore I want to wipe them off the face of the planet. They have to pay for what they have done here. Not just financially, in every sense of the word. They have to pay.