Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Peace Pipes and Oil Pipelines

Niger Delta Avengers Destroy Oil Pipelines

I have some sympathy for the Niger Delta Avengers, though I abhor their actions. They destroy oil pipelines to advance their cause. Yet they have reason to be upset.

Since the early days of drilling for oil in Nigeria, the people of the Niger Delta have complained about the degradation of their land. Oil pipelines crossed agricultural land. Leaks were devastating.

The gas flares have been a cause of considerable hardship.

Ken Saro Wiwa

Ken Saro Wiwa, Ogoni activist

More than two decades ago Ken Saro-Wiwa led protests by his Ogoni people. He was executed on trumped-up  charges, according to his supporters.

Today the Niger Delta Avengers are destroying oil pipelines. They are making the difficult economic situation of the country even worse. Less oil to export means fewer dollars in foreign exchange and lower government revenue.

Their latest attack was on the Escravos pipeline belonging to Chevron.

They are demanding no repairs be made to any of the pipeines they’ve damaged until they have negotiations with the federal government. They do not respect their state government – the leaders of Delta State.

The article in Naij.com says, “The attack comes just a day after the Avengers said it would resume bombing of oil facilities if government made any further mistake to enter into negotiation with selfish leaders in the region.”

It must be very difficult for the federal leaders to know how to deal with this group. Are they giving in to terrorism? Is there a clear leader?

Connecting the Ceremonial Pipe and Oil Pipeline

An article in Salon.com relates the story of the ‘showdown at Standing Rock.‘ The conflict between the Native Americans and Energy Transfer Partners is also over an oil pipeline.

The Native Americans say the pipeline will destroy ancestral lands and burial grounds. The pipeline doesn’t cross tribal lands. But the author, Jim Hightower, says the lines defining those lands were arbitrary.

He talks about the peace pipe.

We saw examples like this in the American Indian Museum in DC.

We saw examples like this in the National Museum of the American Indian in DC.

He says that we’ve usually been taught that the peace pipe was a symbol of defeat for Native Americans.

He says, however, “The reality is that the communal smoking of a ceremonial pipe, often filled with tobacco, is a centuries-old tradition rich in spiritual meaning for many Native people who see it as an eternal channel through which tribes seek metaphysical strength, courage and endurance.”

Today’s conflict is, “pitting the cultural power symbolized by the Native American pipe against the bruising financial power of a giant pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners.”

The article describes the activities of the company and its head, Kelcy Warren.

He has been a large contributor to the political campaigns of people who have helped him get access to the land where he wants pipelines to run.

Other tribal lands with historic and religious significance have been destroyed.

Now he’s facing a large and powerful opposition at Standing Rock,

I love the conclusion of the article: “Not since the days of General George Custer has an Anglo been as surprised as Kelcy Warren by a powerful force of Indians thwarting his ambition.”

Have you followed the Standing Rock confrontation?

Visit to Grandson

Clem and I drove to Ithaca NY on the gorgeous though rainy Saturday just past.

Kenechi in the lab

Kenechi in the lab

Our mission? A visit to our grandson Kenechi, now in his senior year at Cornell.

We were able to see him at work in the lab. His project is about proteins and isolating molecules that do something specific to the proteins.

Or at least it’s related to proteins. He did explain, but I couldn’t really follow! Still, it was wonderful to see him enjoying the work.

We got to the lab around 6:30 in the evening. He had to inject a couple of samples into a machine and could then leave for dinner with us. We dropped him back the lab around 9 pm. What dedication!

The next morning we picked him up at his apartment. He shares with two other guys, and it was in just the state you’d expect!

He guided us on a drive through the lovely campus and explained the names and uses of some of the buildings.

Outside the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca

Outside the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca, and after lunch!

We went to the best-known burger place in town for lunch.

We parked, by chance, next to the First Unitarian Society in Ithaca.

Kenechi spotted their Black Lives Matter banner hanging over the doorway.

So we had to have another picture!

We were thrilled to have the opportunity of a few hours with our oldest grandson.

Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.