Amandla radio interview with environmentalist Nnimo Bassey

Tuesday, 22 July, 2014

Pambazuka News is popping up a lot on our feeds today. Via this piece (French) we learnt of a recent interview with Nigerian environmental activist Nnimmo Bassey, Director of the Health of Mother Earth Foundation, an ecological think tank, and coordinator of Oil Watch International, which he describes as “a network of resistance in the Global South.”

The interview is available as an audio link, accessible here, which Bassey gave to Zahra Moloo, Kenya correspondent of Amandla, a weekly African current affairs programme produced in English and French by CKUT 90.3 in Montreal, Canada.

The written transcript is in French (retranslated by us for the purposes of the summary below, as circles get ever smaller) but the audio interview is in English and is well worth your time. It covers:

- Bassey’s background in oil issues and human rights
- “How Africans across the continent can create a front against the extractive industries, as well as against neoliberal approaches to environmentalism”
- The scale of the destruction that oil companies have caused in the Niger Delta
- How to defend the communities living in this area, and the fact that “there has been no cleaning” there
- Whether an approach to these issues based on rule of law is of any use in “a country like Nigeria where judicial processes are notoriously difficult?” 
- Bassey’s work on other topics such as genetically modified organisms and food sovereignty issues
- How people across Africa can organize to fight against the mining industry and whether in doing so they should avoid entering the “neoliberal discourse that wants to fight against the problems of the environment through profit initiatives?”
- How extractives’ “attack on the continent” is “a new wave of colonisation.” 
- The problems of communicating environmental messages to people?

It’s not industry-friendly, but then again he’s an environmental activist who cut his teeth in the Niger Delta and whose work goes back to the seventies… well, it’d be mighty odd if it was.  The audio interview in particular is worth a listen; Bassey’s a good speaker, and insight into his stances on all of these issues is valuable. The man has much to say.