OUR MEANS OF LIVELIHOOD IS UNDER THREAT THE SMALL CREEK IN Dema-Abbey Community in Bonny Local
These Pictures are the small creek that supports the life of people of Dema-Abbey Community in Bonny Local Government of Rivers State in Nigeria in Niger Delta Region. My forbearer, Chief Orugbe Abbey (alias Manila) founded the community in 1881. Available record shows that 138years ago about 804 persons inhabited it and were mostly his slaves working for until slavery was abolished in 1903.
Their means of livelihood is majorly fishing and small-scale crop farming. They are known to have discovered many other satellite fishing settlement outskirts of the Dema-Abbey main community. This small creek mostly supports subsistence fishing activities in the main community while the satellite fishing settlement was meant for large scale fishing activities.
This creek is normally closed from fishing and other marine activities for 6months or 1year to allow the fishes, periwinkle and other seafood to mature after then it is opened for activities based the tide condition. Closing and opening of the creek is effectively communicated to the natives of the community through the use of native drum called town crier. In the past, during the period for which the creek will be closed nobody including non-native can carry out any fishing activities on the creek because of the fear of the rituals and incantation involved in the closing of the creeks. Similar ritual and incantations are performed during the opening as well.
40yrs ago it is in this creek that my parents fetch fishes and crayfish in quantity that they processed and sold and saw me through education up to University level. It is here that so many other people like me were raised.
But some days ago, I went to the village, I could not help but found myself in tears because of level of ecological damage caused by the illicit activities of those that have engaged in local and crude production of petroleum products.
As I speak now all the aquatic species like periwinkles which we normally found on the mud are no longer seen clustered in their numbers, fishes are no longer see demonstrating their plays, mud skipper which play in the mud is no longer found. Rather films of crude oil are found floating on the water and on the top of the mud. The contours of the creek are being sketched continuously with crude oil.
The oil spill had driven away the fishes, the mudskippers, and the periwinkles, crayfish etc. The means of livelihood of so many people living in the community has been brought to ground zero. The locals are living in a state of hopelessness, low self-esteem. Many have resorted to riskless living and are also vulnerable to all kind of disease because of the impact of this activity on the environment.
Many are living in fears because they think that if they speak up and stand up against them the powerful forces that protect these group will come against them and they may be killed and thrown into the creek. One of the villagers narrated how armed men that protect this group when he accosted because he did not know that this powerful force is involved threatened him with gun.
How did we get to this level of thinking? I know that the world is in two extremes: extreme poverty, extreme destruction, and extreme disease. And then extreme abundance, opportunity and interconnectedness like, we never seen before in the history of the planet. Thanks to technology. Because you see, I believe we can make profit. But we can still look after the people and look after our beautiful planet.
GREAT THINGS HAPPENS WHEN WE EXIST IN EACH OTHER’S SPACE WITH EMPATHY.