In 2019, I was asked to give a speech on the need for Ogoni Reparations and Social Justice before the annual Afrikan Emancipation Day Reparations March set off to deliver a petition to the British Prime Minister.

I had never before walked the 3.5 miles to 10 Downing Street from Brixton’s Windrush Square

It was not to be that year, due to time constraints whilst directing communications to the international press.

The invitation was an unexpected and last minute request by Jendayi Serwah, the formidable force behind the Stop the Maangamizi!‘ Campaign.

I did make the time to draft a speech that I hoped would be evocative of the Ogoni environmental and public health crises and in a small way, perhaps effect some change in consumer attitudes to petroleum consumption and their connection to the Niger Delta cause.

The speech was forgotten in my Blog Drafts folder and when I rediscovered it today it seemed timeless as the issues remain the same and little change has come.

It is time to set the truths outlined free!

I hope the unheard speech can have a positive affect on your attitude and commitment to making our global environment a cleaner place and more just society for all people, but particularly the Ogoni who suffer daily due to our dependence on Petroleum and its related products..

It can also be used to inform letters, campaigns and proposals that you might write, create or draft to move forward the cause via Activism, Corporate Social Responsibility and Philanthropy.

“Since 2015, my cultural and creative consultancy AFRICA: Seen & Heard has supported LAZARUS TAMANA, the EU Co-ordinator of MOSOP pro bono in the organisation’s fight for justice for the Ogoni land and Ogoni people. 

We have provided International Communications direction and managed aspects of Business Development, Economic Strategy and Philanthropic Engagement with iconic artists, multinational companies, charities and private foundations.

Over the past five years we have trod much ground at the Royal Courts of Justice and with UK grassroots and academic activism, making significant steps towards necessary change.

I am a British-Nigerian of Yorùbá descent who has had the utmost respect for the plight and power of the Ogoni since hearing of their struggle as a teenage girl in the 1990s.

I followed the case and execution of the Ogoni Nine as it unfolded, it shook the world decades before we had social media and viral campaigns.

Its echo still reverberates .

At present [August 2019], I direct the CONTEMPORARY ENSLAVEMENT PROGRAMME, an initiative that along with key global partners is quietly creating a pan-African narrative and economic strategies and projects that effectively tackle the global issue of Modern Slavery.

We also highlight the implications of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery to Nigeria and Africa’s development.

Shell Oil’s ecocide of the Ogoni land has caused displacement of the Ogoni people.

As an ethnic group they are at risk of extinction and as communities and individuals the Ogoni are vulnerable to human trafficking and are often victims of modern enslavement as they seek to flee their horrendous circumstance.

The danger of Ogoni enslavement in the Twenty-First Century is a tragic irony and unacceptable reality, as out of ALL the Nigerian peoples, the Ogoni are the only ones never to have lost a member to enslavement during the Trans-Atlantic enslaved trade. 

The Ogoni people settled their land in the Niger Delta prior to 15 BC and for millennia were a minority indigenous people living in harmony with their environment.

They were a self-sustaining and content agricultural people renowned for herding livestock, fishing and cultivating and trading salt and palm oil.

Lazarus once stated:

“If you destroy the environment you destroy us, as we and the environment are more or less the same.”

Between 1976 and 1991 there were almost 3,000 oil spills of over 2 million barrels of oil in Ogoniland, amounting to around 40% of the total worldwide oil spills of the Royal Dutch Shell company. 

Shell’s environmental desecration via oil spills, gas flaring and waste discharge has rendered the alluvial soil of much of the Niger Delta no longer viable for agriculture, destroying the traditional livelihoods of the Ogoni and many other Niger Delta indigenous communities.

As we prepare to march in relative comfort across paved roads and with bottled spring water to quench our thirst on this hot Summer’s day, the quality of life is the poorest it has been for the Ogoni since they settled in the Niger Delta thousands of years ago.

Their soil is tarred with spilled oil and their drinking water is polluted.

The failure of Royal Dutch Shell plc and the Nigerian government to implement the recommendations made by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in their 2014 “No Progress” evaluation is a flagrant abuse of the Niger Delta communities’ human rights to food, water and a life free of pollution.

In 2011, a UNEP assessment found the groundwater in unaffected Ogoniland areas was contaminated with the carcinogen Benzene at a level 900 times higher than WHO guidelines.

Hydrocarbon pollution has lead to the destruction of the Ogoni environment and society.

Pollution has destroyed all forms of life from marine to human, eroded social structures, economic opportunity and ignited civil unrest and marginalised the youth.

Pollution has totally contaminated the Niger Delta environment.

The food that is eaten and air that is breathed deliver toxic gaseous elements of crude oil including toluene and xylenes into the bloodstream of all inhabitants.

The increase in miscarriages, stillbirths, premature births, birth defects and neonatal deaths is high. 

In one Niger Delta village, 10 miscarriages per week have been recorded by the traditional ruler.

Sperm count has reduced, abnormal sperm development and the incidence of genetic diseases is on the rise.

Lead poisoning is the prime factor.

The babe on my back [pictured worn in 2015 on the 20 year Ogoni Nine execution commemoration and peaceful protest at Shell U.K. HQ] represents the many Ogoni children who have not been born, who have died before their time and live with defects and handicaps caused by the immoral capitalism and toxic environment that has sabotaged Nigeria’s destiny and potential since the discovery and exploitation of Crude Oil.

Cancers and unknown diseases have lowered the life expectancy of the Ogoni to 40 years of age.

Still they have no choice but to eat food grown in toxic soil and drink the poisoned water.

They have no other option but starvation.

The reparations we demand today are:


UNEP estimates that it could take up to 30 years to rehabilitate Ogoniland to its full potential and that the first five years of rehabilitation would require funding of about US$1 billion.

We must stand with and EMPOWER the Ogoni cause and their fight to ensure the REPARATIONS court awarded to the BODO COMMUNITY and still outstanding from SHELL OIL are delivered and those due to other Niger Delta communities are fought for and forthcoming:

It must be remembered that after turning down a meagre offer of £4,000 from Shell an award of £55million was granted by the High Court in London in 2016 after the Bodo Community fought for their rights.

This was one small battle in the long-standing Ogoni Reparations War.

I am proud to stand here today in support of MOSOP, as its people are the embodiment of RESISTANCE.

Many of you here were not yet born or today may not be aware of the Ogoni people, Ogoniland and the case of the OGONI NINE who were executed as martyrs to the cause of REPARATIONS.

Since the 1950s the Ogoni have struggled with the catastrophic effects of the Shell Oil company’s operations in Ogoniland and faced inequity from the Nigerian government which has favoured capitalist interest in Shell Oil over protecting the human rights of its citizens in the Niger Delta.

We are all to a degree complicit in the destruction of the Ogoni land and Niger Delta peoples as we all consume petroleum and its associated products each day.

From petrol in our vehicles, acrylic fibres in our fast fashion clothing, the plastic packaging of our food and household goods and in products we use to beautify our hair and skin and even “pamper” our babies’ bottoms!

We do not often think of the repercussions for the people of the global African Diaspora going through a daily struggle we contribute to and prolong when we are polluting the planet with our daily consumption.

After we finish this march, please think of the Ogoni when you make your purchasing decisions and again when you dispose of your waste.

We can all be an active part of the change the Ogoni need to ensure they survive: by decreasing corporate demand of petroleum products and their supply of detrimental products from false nails and hair extensions to plastic bottles and carrier bags.

The Ogoni have fought with DIGNITY, VALOUR, REASON & UNCONQUERABLE SPIRIT, much as we are motivated and setting forth to do today with this march.

When we speak of and protest against the Maangamizi, the status quo of the Ogoni land and people in this present time is the ultimate case study in contemporary African holocaust and the struggle for reparations.

Today each one of you is a leader to the the generation behind us and the Africans around the world who will be empowered to follow our example for Economic Justices.

This is my first time joining the Reparation March.

I am proud to join you all today, as each year you have stood for a great principle, stepping forward unified in your duty and honour to walk the extra miles needed to make necessary change.

The last words of Ogoni activist, Ken Saro-Wiwa were:

“Lord take my soul, but the struggle continues…”



HEAR!: Sister Jendayi Serwah and Lazarus Tamana address the crowd at Parliament Square on 1st August 2019.

SEE: The impact and True Tragedy of the two 2008 Bodo Oil Spills that disrupted the lives of 69,000 residents.

ASSESS: The environment and public health impacts of oil contamination in Ogoniland, in the Niger Delta, and options for remediation.

APPRAISE: Why the UNEP Report On Ogoni Has Not Been Implemented.

HEAR: The latest news on the slow speed of implementation of the Ogoni Clean-Up.

CONSIDER: The Niger Delta As A Microcosm Of Nigeria | Eugene Abels | TEDxPortHarcourt.

CONTEMPLATE: Can we survive without Petrochemicals?

DOWNLOAD: The Institute of Economic Affairs‘ full report, Commercial Agriculture: Cure or Curse? Malaysian and African Experience Contrasted, by Keith Boyfield here:

EVALUATE: Plantation Agriculture: Cure or Curse?

OVERSTAND: The links between Cambridge University and the fossil fuel industry, the problems with the state of affairs and what can and is being done to tackle this.

© W. O. Adeyemi/ AFRICA: Seen & Heard Ltd and, 2020. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to W. O. AdeyemiAFRICA: Seen & Heard and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s