Story of the Ogoni people

By: Cole Miller

It's been 60 years since the Nigerian Delta was nearly taken over by major oil companies. Today, much of the land lays in ruin and now those who used to call it home are demanding change.

“That is our message today, clean Ogoniland! Ogoni people cannot continue to suffer!” Mene-Senewo Ikpobari exclaimed.

His words resonate with his fellow people outside the capitol on Friday. They come from southern Nigeria, near a large delta in the Gulf of Guinea, where 60 years ago, major oil companies began setting up operations. But after countless oil spills, the people demanded action on this day 20 years ago.

“300,000 Ogoni people came out in Oginiland in protestation against the devastation of their land,” Mene-Senewo said.

Mene says that while oil and wealth was shipped away, their land was left to suffer. He says their way of life, fishing and farming, was no more. His biggest worry, though, is for the next generation.

“Children are the inheritors of tomorrow,” Mene-Senewo said. “They are our future. If today these children that are born don't have a future, that means the land is going to go extinct.”

Declaring January 4th “Ogoni Day”, Mene hopes the Nigerian government will work with the oil companies to clean up their mess, before it's too late, and the culture he once knew disappears.

“At least there should be somebody in this land that will continue the heritage of the land,” Mene-Senewo said.

The Ogoni People of Nebraska will be hosting an event Saturday, January 5th at 4p.m. at the WSI hall. They invite anyone and everyone to come out and learn about their cause.