In this VII Interactive Book Club, record­ed live on May 6, 2020, Ed Kashi dis­cuss­es his book Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta with mod­er­a­tor Ziyah Gafic. Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta takes a graph­ic look at the pro­found cost of oil exploita­tion in West Africa. Featuring images by Ed Kashi and text by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, promi­nent Nigerian jour­nal­ists, human rights activists, and Professor at University of California, Berkeley, Michael Watts, this book traces the 50-year his­to­ry of Nigeria’s oil inter­ests and the result­ing envi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion and com­mu­ni­ty con­flicts that have plagued the region. Set against a back­drop of what has been called the scram­ble for African oil, Curse of the Black Gold is the first book to doc­u­ment the con­se­quences of a half-century of oil explo­ration and pro­duc­tion in one of the world’s fore­most cen­ters of bio­di­ver­si­ty.

This book expos­es the real­i­ty of oil’s impact and the absence of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in its wake, pro­vid­ing a com­pelling pic­to­r­i­al his­to­ry of one of the world’s great delta­ic areas. Accompanied by pow­er­ful writ­ing by some of the most promi­nent pub­lic intel­lec­tu­als and crit­ics in con­tem­po­rary Nigeria, Kashi’s pho­tographs cap­ture local lead­ers, armed mil­i­tants, oil work­ers, and name­less vil­lagers, all of whose fates are inex­tri­ca­bly linked. His exclu­sive cov­er­age bears wit­ness to the ongo­ing strug­gles of local com­mu­ni­ties, illus­trat­ing the para­dox of pover­ty in the midst of plen­ty.

This lec­ture was orig­i­nal­ly host­ed at VII Interactive, a new resource for shar­ing insights and infor­ma­tion on the craft of visu­al sto­ry­telling. We are build­ing dif­fer­ent plat­forms with­in the VII ecosys­tem, where the pub­lic can engage direct­ly, online with a live instruc­tor. VII Interactive offers pro­gram­ming that is free and avail­able to every­one, in addi­tion to paid class­es and indi­vid­ual men­tor­ing that can be fash­ioned to your needs.